MN Divorce, Custody, Change of Circumstances

Minnesota case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: MN Divorce, Custody, Change of Circumstances.

In re the Marriage of: Denise Louise Spanier v. Terence Urban Spanier. MN Divorce, Custody, Change of Circumstances

In this appeal from Hennepin County, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held:

On a motion to modify custody under Minn. Stat. 518.18, an order that does not modify physical or legal custody is not a "prior order" for purposes of determining whether a change of circumstances has occurred since the last custody order.

The mother had argued that her deployment to Arlington, Virginia, constituted a change of circumstances. The trial court, and the Court of Appeals, held that parties knew at the time of the divorce that she was on full-time duty with the Naval Reserve, and thus knew that she would be deployed to other locations. Therefore, there had been no change of circumstances.

No. A13-2175 (Minn. Ct. App. Aug. 18, 2014).

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


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Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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