from the District Court of Burleigh County, South Central
Judicial District, the Honorable Gail Hagerty, Judge.
Spencer K. Curtiss (on brief), self-represented, P.O. Box
5521, Bismarck, ND 58506-5521, defendant and appellant.
Rebecca L. Curtiss, plaintiff, no appearance.
1] Spencer Curtiss appeals from a district court Third
Amended Judgment modifying his parenting time and its order
denying his motion to reconsider. For the reasons discussed
in this opinion, we retain jurisdiction under N.D.R.App.P.
35(a)(3) and remand with instructions that the district court
make specific findings.
2] Spencer and Rebecca Curtiss are divorced and have two
minor children. Spencer Curtiss was awarded primary
residential custody of the children by a district court in
Sedgwick County, Kansas. Spencer Curtiss moved to North
Dakota in 2009 and Rebecca Curtiss moved to North Dakota in
2010. In February 2011, Spencer Curtiss was convicted and
incarcerated at the North Dakota State Penitentiary and
remains incarcerated. In March 2011, Rebecca Curtiss moved
the North Dakota district court to amend the divorce judgment
to provide her with primary residential responsibility of the
children. The district court entered an Amended Judgment, as
stipulated to by the parties, awarding Rebecca Curtiss
primary residential responsibility and awarding Spencer
Curtiss supervised parenting time every other weekend at the
state penitentiary. The district court issued a Second
Amended Judgment modifying Spencer Curtiss's child
support obligation in October 2013.
3] In July 2015, Spencer Curtiss moved the district court to
enforce the existing judgment regarding his parenting time.
Spencer Curtiss argued Rebecca Curtiss was not following the
judgment by failing to bring the children to the state
penitentiary to visit him. In November 2015, Rebecca Curtiss
moved the district court to modify the Second Amended
Judgment to suspend Spencer Curtiss's parenting time
while he is incarcerated. In support of her motion, Rebecca
Curtiss argued that she and the children's therapist
believed any visits to the state penitentiary are harmful to
4] The district court scheduled a hearing to address both
parties' motions. Spencer Curtiss moved the court for an
order allowing him to participate in the hearing through the
Interactive Video Network ("IVN") due to his
incarceration. The court granted Spencer Curtiss's
motion, but stated he was responsible for making the
arrangements. The district court noted the hearing would not
be delayed or continued if Spencer Curtiss did not make the
appropriate arrangements. Spencer Curtiss did not appear
through IVN at the December 4, 2015 hearing. Rebecca Curtiss
and the children's therapist testified at the hearing.
5] On December 22, 2015, the district court entered a Third
Amended Judgment ordering that, while Spencer Curtiss is
incarcerated, the children are not required to visit him, but
if the children want to visit him, the parenting time must be
supervised by a professional such as a counselor or a
therapist. The district court also ordered Spencer Curtiss
could set up telephone calls and letters through the
children's therapist, and that all communication had to
be supervised by a professional. Spencer Curtiss moved the
district court to reconsider. The district court denied
Spencer Curtiss's motion.
6] Spencer Curtiss appeals, arguing the district court did
not have jurisdiction to amend the judgment; the district
court violated his constitutional rights by not issuing an
order to the Department of Corrections demanding his
appearance at the hearing; the district court erred by not
scheduling a hearing and ruling on his motion; and the
district court failed to make findings of fact on the record
that a material change in circumstance had been established
and modifying his parenting time was in the best interests of
the children. Spencer Curtiss also makes numerous complaints
against the Department of Corrections not relevant in this
action and several indiscernible arguments regarding his
constitutional rights and bias by the court.
7] Spencer Curtiss argues the district court did not have
jurisdiction over him, without citing any relevant legal
authority. He makes no argument that the district court did
not have subject-matter jurisdiction. Personal jurisdiction
is the court's power over a party, acquired through
service of process or by voluntary general appearance in the
action. Interest of T.H., 2012 ND 38, ¶ 16, 812
N.W.2d 373. The district court had jurisdiction to amend the
Second Amended Judgment. The court had personal jurisdiction
over Spencer Curtiss under N.D.R.Civ.P. 4(b)(1). He was
incarcerated in Burleigh County at the time of this action.
Furthermore, he already submitted to the jurisdiction of the
district court by moving to ...