This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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






In Re the Marriage of:

John B. Schrock, petitioner,





Mary E. Schrock,



Filed December 11, 2001

Affirmed in part and reversed in part.

Toussaint, Chief Judge


St. Louis County District Court

File No. FX99600935



Larry M. Nord, Ormand & Nord, 1301 Miller Trunk Highway, Duluth, MN 55811 (for respondent)


Elizabeth A. Storaasli, Boyd Agnew Dryer & Storaasli, Ltd., 200 Sellwood Building, 202 West Superior Street, Duluth, MN 55802 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Klaphake, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N


TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge


Appellant challenges various district court findings and conclusions in this marital dissolution action.  We affirm those findings and conclusions except with regard to the district court’s conclusion to divest itself of jurisdiction over the issue of maintenance.  Because appellant’s employability, medical condition, and income from the property division suggest that she may be a future maintenance candidate, we reverse the district court’s decision in order to preserve the district court’s jurisdiction over the maintenance issue.






            The standard of review for an appeal from a maintenance award is whether the district court abused its discretion.  Erlandson v. Erlandson, 318 N.W.2d 36, 38 (Minn. 1982).  This court must review the district court’sdecision in light of Minn. Stat. § 518.552 (2000) (setting out factors to beconsidered for maintenance award).  Findings related to maintenance will not be set aside unless clearly erroneousMcCulloch v. McCulloch, 435 N.W.2d 564, 566 (Minn. App. 1989).  The district court found that appellant is fully capable of self-support and meeting her expenses from her employment and income-producing assets.  The district court concluded that neither party was entitled to maintenance and divested itself of jurisdiction to award either party maintenance in the future.

The district court’s findings regarding appellant’s income reflect appellant’s success in employment.  Appellant worked throughout the marriage and began increasing her hours as an unscheduled emergency-room nurse in 1996.  By the time the parties separated, she was in a nearly full-time position to successfully earn benefits.  Despite medical conditions that could restrict her employment, including paroxysmal superventricular tachycardia, chronic plantar fascaiitis, and peptic ulcer disease, appellant earned a gross income of $41,500 in 1999 and testified that she had benefited personally from the work and work environment.  Therefore, the district court’s findings regarding her income and employability were not clearly erroneous.

The district court considered appellant’s monthly expenses, which were based on her needs while working in an unscheduled nursing position without benefits.  While the court reduced appellant’s claimed expenses without a specific explanation, the court had found that appellant’s current .6 position included retirement, vacation, and medical and dental benefits, all of which were set out as expenses in appellant’s budget.  Therefore, the court did not clearly err in its adjustment of appellant’s expenses to reflect her current situation. 

Appellant argues that the district court failed to consider the parties’ standard of living during the marriage.  The court’s consideration of appellant’s expenses and needs, however, implies that the court considered the parties’ standard of living during the marriage.  See Dobrin v. Dobrin, 569 N.W.2d 199, 201-02 (Minn. 1997) (district court’s finding need not explicitly address each criterion if analysis is implicit in decision).  The court’s findings also reflect income, hobbies, the homestead and substantial asset accumulation during the marriage.  The court also expressly accepted both parties’ recent employment evidence, which reflected even during the marriage, a change with regard to the parties’ standard of living.  

Appellant argues that respondent decreased his income in bad faith.  The district court implicitly rejected appellant’s allegation of bad faith when it accepted respondent’s decrease in income.  Based on the parties’ testimony regarding respondent’s work history and habits, the court could find that respondent’s employment changes were justified.  See Sefkow v. Sefkow, 427 N.W.2d 203, 210 (Minn. 1988) (appellate court defers to district court credibility determinations).  Because respondent’s decreased income was associated with those changes, the court did not clearly err in its findings regarding respondent’s income.

Appellant also contends that the district court clearly erred in finding that the award of $200,000 in non-tax-deferred assets to appellant “ensures that she will have a substantial source of income in addition to her income from employment.”  When a party’s income from the marital estate exceeds the party’s living expenses, the threshold for maintenance is not met.  Lyon v. Lyon, 439 N.W.2d 18, 22 (Minn. 1989).  In light of the testimony and evidence regarding appellant’s current earnings, her unearned income of $8,000 prior to the property division, and the substantial property division, the district court did not clearly err in finding that she had the means to pay her expenses.

Contrary to appellant’s arguments, it is not clear that the court expected her to liquidate assets to support her reasonable monthly needs.  Appellant should not be required to invade the principal of investments to satisfy her monthly needs.  Fink v. Fink, 366 N.W.2d 340, 342 (Minn. App. 1985); see Minn Stat. Sec. 518.552, subd. 2(a) (2000).  In the event that appellant’s medical conditions, employment income, unearned income, or other circumstances require that she invade principal to meet her needs, she may be entitled to maintenance.  Reserving jurisdiction over maintenance would allow the court to assess future changes in appellant’s situation as those changes arise.  Prahl v. Prahl, 627 N.W.2d 698, 703 (Minn. App. 2001) (reserving maintenance appropriate where party’s current ability to support himself coupled with medical condition suggest future need for maintenance) (citation omitted).  Therefore, given appellant’s circumstances and the facts available at the time of trial, the district court erred by divesting itself of jurisdiction over maintenance, and we reverse the district court’s conclusion on maintenance to reserve the district court’s jurisdiction over maintenance.


Property Division

Although a district court has broad discretion in the valuation and distribution of an asset, its discretion is not unlimited and its determination should be supported by clear documentary or testimonial evidence, or by comprehensive findings issued by the court.  Ronnkvist v. Ronnkvist, 331 N.W.2d 764, 766 (Minn. 1983).  Appellant argues that the district court abused its discretion in valuing or awarding the 1996 GTO automobile, Norwest accounts, St. Luke’s pension, and retirement funds.

Evidence produced at trial showed a range of possible values for the GTO from $7,925 to $22,700.  The district court was within its discretion when it decided on $8,000.  See Hertz v. Hertz, 304 Minn. 144, 145, 229 N.W.2d 42, 44 (1975) (valuations are sustained if they fall within limits of credible estimates).

On appeal, appellant argues that the Norwest account awarded to appellant included $3,000 of their adult son’s money.  At trial, however, appellant could not identify what amount belonged to her son.  Consequently, the district court did not clearly err by concluding that none of it was his.  See O’Brien v. O’Brien, 343 N.W.2d 850, 854 (Minn. 1984).  With regard to the home-equity loan, appellant argues that the Norwest bank account balance should have been reduced by $13,500, monies used to repair the homestead.  The court noted in its findings, however, that the loan was assumed by appellant after the valuation date for assets.  Therefore, the court did not err in treating it as appellant’s debt.   In contrast, the court correctly treated the parties’ 1999 tax payments as a marital obligation.  Justis v. Justis, 384 N.W.2d 885, 889 (Minn. App. 1986) (division of debt treated same as division of assets), review denied (Minn. May 29, 1986).   Because the division was just and equitable, the court did not abuse its discretion.

Appellant provided additional evidence of the value of the St. Luke’s pension at the post-trial motions hearing.  A motion to amend the findings must be made on the existing files, exhibits, and minutes of the court.  Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.02; see also Otte v. Otte, 368 N.W.2d 293, 299 (Minn. App. 1985) (on motion for amended findings, court correctly declined to consider new evidence).  Therefore, the court did not err when it denied appellant’s request to change the value of the pension based on evidence submitted after the trial. 

The district court awarded appellant more non-tax-deferred assets than tax-deferred assets.  Appellant received about $200,000 in non-tax-deferred assets to respondent’s $60,000 in non-tax-deferred assets.  The court did not abuse its discretion in awarding appellant more non-tax-deferred assets.  A district court may make a disproportionate property settlement so that a party might receive more support from investment income.  Fink v. Fink, 366 N.W.2d 340, 343 (Minn. App. 1985).  Otherwise, the overall property division was nearly equal.  Absent expert testimony of reliable and accurate values to the contrary, the court correctly declined to speculate and made the valuations on the evidence before it.  O’Brien v. O’Brien, 343 N.W.2d 850, 854 (Minn. 1984) (district court should not consider tax consequences of award when to do so would force court to speculate).


Attorney Fees

A court shall award attorney fees if it finds that the fees are necessary for a good-faith assertion of a party’s rights, they will not unnecessarily prolong the proceedings, the payor has the means to pay them, and the payee does not have the means to pay them.  Minn. Stat. § 518.14, subd. 1 (2000).  Because appellant has adequatemeans to pay her own attorney fees, she was not entitled to an award of fees.


Motion for Amended Findings or New Trial

The district court denied appellant’s motion, stating that it was satisfied that the findings and conclusions were correct.  As noted above, we conclude that the district court’s findings were not clearly erroneous.  Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01.  We also defer to the district court’s broad discretion whether to amend its findings or to grant a new trial because the court here had the benefit of hearing both parties testify on the relevant issues.  See Vangsness v. Vangsness, 607 N.W.2d 468, 472 (Minn. App. 2000).  Therefore, the court did not err in denying appellant’s motions.

Affirmed in part and reversed in part.