Under the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act, adopted by Minnesota, a “‘[f]oreign judgment’ means any judgment, decree, or order of a court of the United States or of any other court which is entitled to full faith and credit in this state.” Minn. Stat. § 548.26. The impact of this is that judgments from other states may be given full faith and credit by Minnesota courts if they have been properly filed in Minnesota pursuant to statute. See Minn. Stat. §§ 548.26 to 548.33.
However, the Court of Appeals clarified that a Minnesota court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to modify a spousal maintenance or child support order when another state retains continuing, exclusive jurisdiction. See Schroeder v. Schroeder, 658 N.W.2d 909 (Minn. Ct. App. 2003)
Therefore, the central issue to be answered is whether the other state has the authority to retain “continuing, exclusive jurisdiction” over the case or whether it can be transferred to Minnesota.
With regard to custody, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) addresses issues of subject matter jurisdiction involving cases such as the one at hand. See Johnson v. Murray, 648 N.W.2d 664, 670 (Minn. 2002). This Act has been adopted by Minnesota at Minn. Stat. § 518D et seq.
The UCCJEA provides that the state issuing a custody decree can retain exclusive, continuing jurisdiction over the decree as long as that state remains the residence of the children or a parent. Minn. Stat. § 518D.202, 518D.203(2).
Specifically, Minn. Stat. § 518D.202 states:
(a) Except as otherwise provided in section 518D.204, a court of this state which has made a child custody determination consistent with section 518D.201 or 518D.203 has exclusive, continuing jurisdiction over the determination until: (1) a court of this state determines that the child, the child’s parents, and any person acting as a parent do not have a significant connection with this state and that substantial evidence is no longer available in this state concerning the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships; or (2) a court of this state or a court of another state determines that the child, the child’s parents, and any person acting as a parent do not presently reside in this state. (b) A court of this state which has made a child custody determination and does not have exclusive, continuing jurisdiction under this section may modify that determination only if it has jurisdiction to make an initial determination under section 518D.201.
Similarly, with regard to child support, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), which was adopted by Minnesota at Minn. Stat. § 518C et seq, allows the registration of a support order from another state “for enforcement.” Minn. Stat. § 518C.601. Correspondingly, a Minnesota court may modify the foreign support order only if it finds, among other things, that (1) the child, the obligee, and the obligor, do not reside in the issuing state, and (2) the petitioner is a nonresident of Minnesota. See Minn. Stat. § 518C.611(a)(1)(i)-(ii).
The Minnesota Court of Appeals has upheld and applied these principles stating that if neither of the parents nor the child reside in the state that issued an existing child-support order, a court in another state may modify a properly registered order. See Rivera v. Ramsey County, 615 N.W.2d 854, 858 (Minn. Ct. App. 2000)
Federal law is also consistent providing that a party seeking to modify in one state a child-support order issued in another state may only register the order for modification “[i]f there is no individual contestant or child residing in the issuing State”. 28 U.S.C. § 1738B(i).