This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In Re the Marriage of:
Stephen W. Halvorson, petitioner,
Filed March 7, 2000
Roseau County District Court
File No. F198754
Donna K. Dixon, 116 North Main Street, P.O. Box F, Warroad, MN 56763 (for respondent)
Steven A. Anderson, 115 Roberts Avenue Northeast, P.O. Box 430, Warroad, MN 56763 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Willis, Judge, and Halbrooks, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
In this marital dissolution action, appellant Genevieve Halvorson contends the court erred in failing to award her an additional $13,000 because her allegedly nonmarital personal injury settlement was used to pay respondent Stephen Halvorson’s allegedly nonmarital debt. We affirm.
D E C I S I O N
The district court has broad discretion in dividing property; absent an abuse of discretion, its property distribution must stand. Rutten v. Rutten, 347 N.W.2d 47, 50 (Minn. 1984). Property acquired during a marriage is presumed to be marital. Minn. Stat. § 518.54, subd. 5 (1998). To overcome this presumption, the claimant must prove the property is nonmarital by a preponderance of evidence. Olsen v. Olsen, 562 N.W.2d 797, 800 (Minn. 1997). Nonmarital property includes property acquired before, during, or after the marriage that is acquired in exchange for nonmarital property. Minn. Stat § 518.54, subd. 5(c); see also Doering v. Doering, 385 N.W.2d 387, 390 (Minn. App. 1986) (holding that there is no “strict tracing” standard, but party must show by preponderance of evidence that asset was acquired in exchange for nonmarital property).
Whether property is marital or nonmarital is a question of law, but a reviewing court must defer to the trial court’s underlying findings of fact. Olsen, 562 N.W.2d at 800. Here, the district court found that “no evidence was presented to allow tracing the use of the $13,000 to a non-marital expense.” We conclude that the evidence supports this finding.
Appellant argues she is entitled to $13,000 because (1) she received a nonmarital personal injury settlement; and (2) the settlement was used to pay off a loan that the parties took out to pay a debt to respondent’s previous wife. Although appellant acquired her personal injury claim before the marriage and contends the proceeds from the loan were used to pay respondent’s obligations to his ex-wife, appellant presented no other evidence that the settlement and debt were nonmarital. Moreover, the record includes evidence that (1) both parties signed the injury claim settlement release, (2) the settlement was compensation for medical bills and lost wages that accrued after the marriage, (3) the couple deposited the $13,000 into their joint account, where it was commingled with marital income, and (4) the parties jointly obtained the loan during the marriage. Therefore, we conclude the settlement and loan were marital. See Van de Loo v. Van de Loo, 346 N.W.2d 173, 176 (Minn. App. 1984) (holding personal injury compensation is nonmarital if intended to replace injuries personal to spouse, such as good health, while compensation for wages lost during a marriage is marital property); Haaland v. Haaland, 392 N.W.2d 268, 272 (Minn. App. 1986) (applying presumption in favor of marital property to nonmarital funds that passed through a general fund where there was no attempt to segregate the funds by their source); Tucker v. Tucker, 368 N.W.2d 335, 337 (Minn. App. 1985) (affirming district court’s conclusion that parties’ commingling of assets indicated intent to transmute property into marital property), review denied (Minn. Aug. 20, 1985).
In addition, appellant does not articulate any property interest acquired in exchange for the settlement proceeds. Although the settlement money might be “traceable” in the sense that it is possible to tell where it went, the district court did not believe appellant’s testimony that she got something in exchange for it. See Sefkow v. Sefkow, 427 N.W.2d 203, 210 (Minn. 1988) (stating appellate courts defer to district court credibility determinations); see also Doering, 385 N.W.2d at 390-91 (deferring to district court’s credibility determination regarding testimony on whether party could trace property to a nonmarital source). Thus, even if appellant proved the settlement proceeds were nonmarital, the district court properly determined that appellant did not prove she acquired a property interest in exchange for her nonmarital property. See Pettit v. Pettit, 472 N.W.2d 668, 670 (Minn. App. 1991) (holding acquisition of property is a prerequisite to tracing under Minn. Stat. § 518.54, subd. 5(c)).