This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).

 

STATE OF MINNESOTA

IN COURT OF APPEALS

C5-00-1620

 

 

In Re the Marriage of:
Mary Margaret Flannery,

n/k/a/ Mary Margaret Franzel,
Appellant,

v.

Michael John Flannery,
Respondent.

Filed April 3, 2001

Affirmed

Peterson, Judge

 

 

Wright County District Court
File No. FX962738

 

Ann Schulz, Suzanne E. Grandchamp, Robin & Thompson, P.A., 1000 Superior Boulevard, Suite 300, Wayzata, MN  55391 (for appellant)

 

Pamela L. Green, 2738 Winnetka Avenue North, New Hope, MN  55427 (for respondent)

 

            Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge, Peterson, Judge, and Huspeni, Judge.*

U N P U B L I S H E D    O P I N I O N

PETERSON, Judge

            Appellant-wife challenges the district court’s order concluding that the parties’ dissolution judgment did not divest the district court of jurisdiction to modify maintenance.  She argues that the parties’ stipulated dissolution judgment included the language required by Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 5 (1998), to divest the district court of jurisdiction to modify maintenance.  We affirm.

FACTS

            The marriage of appellant-wife Mary Margaret Flannery, n/k/a Mary Margaret Franzel, and respondent-husband Michael John Flannery was dissolved in 1997 pursuant to a marital-termination agreement that was adopted by the district court.  The dissolution judgment contains the following provision regarding spousal maintenance payable to wife:

            Commencing January 1, 1997, $4,000.00 from the ITT Hartford payment shall be designated as spousal maintenance.

 

            * * * *

 

            (2) Said $4,000.00 shall not be subject to any cost-of-living increase and shall not be subject to ANY adjustment in amount or in duration.

 

            (3) Except to enforce [this provision], the court shall be divested of jurisdiction to make any change in spousal maintenance payable to [wife] by [husband].

 

            * * * *

 

            (5) Spousal maintenance under this paragraph * * * shall terminate upon the occurrence of the first of any of the following:  death of either Party, remarriage of [wife], termination of * * * the ITT Hartford disability payments to [husband].

 

The dissolution judgment also awards wife an additional $1,000 per month in maintenance, which remains payable even if she remarries.  Husband waived any right to spousal maintenance, past, present, and future, and the dissolution judgment divests the district court of jurisdiction to consider the issue of spousal maintenance for husband.

            Husband filed a motion to terminate the $4,000 spousal maintenance payment, alleging that wife was living with a man, and that she claimed she would marry the man except that she did not want to lose the spousal maintenance.  Husband submitted an affidavit asserting that wife and the man are involved in a romantic relationship and that wife derives an economic benefit from the relationship.  Wife denies husband’s allegations, claiming that the man is just a renter.

            Following a hearing, the district court concluded that the parties’ stipulation to preclude modification of maintenance was invalid and the court had not been divested of jurisdiction to modify maintenance.  The court found that the dissolution judgment lacked the specific findings required under Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 5, that (1) the stipulation of the parties was supported by consideration described in the findings; (2) full disclosure of each parties’ financial circumstances had occurred; and (3) the parties’ stipulation was fair and equitable.

            Wife sought discretionary review by this court of the district court’s order and also filed a direct appeal from the order.  This court denied wife’s petition for discretionary review and permitted the direct appeal to proceed.  This court also limited the direct appeal “to the issue of whether the district court is divested of jurisdiction to consider the motion to modify spousal maintenance.” 

D E C I S I O N

            Statutory construction is a question of law subject to de novo review.  Hince v. O’Keefe, 613 N.W.2d 784, 786 (Minn. App. 2000), review granted (Minn. Sept. 13, 2000).

When interpreting a statute, our role is to effectuate the intention of the legislature.  In doing so, we construe technical words according to their technical meaning and other words according to their common and approved usage and the rules of grammar.

 

Current Technology Concepts, Inc. v. Irie Enterprises, Inc., 530 N.W.2d 539, 543 (Minn. 1995) (citations omitted).

            Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 5 (1998), provides:

            The parties may expressly preclude or limit modification of maintenance through a stipulation, if the court makes specific findings that the stipulation is fair and equitable, is supported by consideration described in the findings, and that full disclosure of each party’s financial circumstances has occurred.  The stipulation must be made a part of the judgment and decree.

 

            Under the plain language of the statute, the parties to a marital dissolution may stipulate that spousal maintenance cannot be modified, but to be effective, the stipulation must be included in the judgment and decree, and the judgment and decree must include certain specific findings.  The district court concluded that the parties’ stipulation precluding maintenance modification was not valid because none of the requirements of the statute were met.

            Wife argues that the judgment and decree meets all of the statutory requirements.  However, because a stipulation is not valid if it fails to meet any of the statutory requirements, we need only determine whether there is one requirement that has not been met.  It is not necessary to discuss all of the requirements.

            The district court concluded that, “The Judgment and Decree does not contain a specific finding that the stipulation of the parties is supported by consideration described in the findings.”  Wife argues that this requirement is met by the following findings in the judgment and decree:

XVIII.

 

            It is fair and just that [husband] waive spousal maintenance.  The consideration for this waiver is mutual agreement and the fact that [husband] has sufficient permanent money to meet his reasonable financial needs.  It is fair and just that [wife] be awarded the spousal maintenance set forth herein.

 

XX.

 

            The Court finds the following regarding this Judgment and Decree:

 

A.                 The Parties have given it serious thought and consideration.

 

Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 5, requires a finding that a stipulation precluding modification of maintenance “is supported by consideration described in the findings.”  Finding of fact XVIII does not indicate that the parties’ stipulation is supported by consideration; it indicates that husband’s waiver of spousal maintenance is supported by consideration.  Nor does finding of fact XX indicate that the stipulation is supported by consideration.

For purposes of contract law,

[c]onsideration is something of value given in return for a performance or promise of performance that is bargained for; consideration is what distinguishes a contract from a gift.

 

In re Estate of Peterson, 579 N.W.2d 488, 490 (Minn. App. 1998), review denied (Minn. Aug. 18, 1998); see also Kornberg v. Kornberg, 542 N.W.2d 379, 388 (Minn. 1996) (applying contract-law definition under Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 5).

            Finding XX does not indicate that the parties gave something of value in return for the stipulation precluding maintenance modification; it indicates only that the parties thought about and considered the judgment and decree.

            Wife also claims, without explanation, that the sentence, “Petitioner is unable to meet her reasonable financial needs without help from Respondent,” which appears in finding of fact I, indicates that the stipulation is supported by consideration.  We see no basis for concluding that this sentence is a finding that the parties’ stipulation precluding maintenance modification is supported by consideration described in the findings of the judgment and decree.

            Because the judgment and decree does not contain a specific finding that the parties’ stipulation precluding maintenance modification is supported by consideration described in the judgment and decree, the district court did not err when it concluded that the stipulation is not valid.  Consequently, the district court is not divested of jurisdiction to modify maintenance.

            Affirmed.

 



*          Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.