This opinion will be unpublished and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:


Daniel William Handlin, petitioner,





Barbara Rose Handlin,



Filed January 15, 2002

Reversed and remanded

Lansing, Judge


Dakota County District Court

File No. F19512879



Ellen Dresselhuis, Dresselhuis Law Office, P.A., Suite 360, 5801 Duluth St., Golden Valley, MN  55422-3900 (for respondent)


Daniel M. Fiskum, Olson, Usset & Weingarden, P.L.L.P., Suite 300, 4500 Park Glen Road, Minneapolis, MN  55416 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Hanson, Judge.


U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N




This appeal is from the denial of a postdecree motion in a marital dissolution action.  Barbara Handlin challenges the adequacy of the district court's findings in denying modification of spousal maintenance and the legal basis for denying her motion to enforce a provision in the dissolution judgment requiring Daniel Handlin to maintain life insurance.  We reverse and remand to allow the district court to make findings on the factors set out in Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 2 (2000) and to compel proof of life insurance.


Barbara and Daniel Handlin’s 1995 dissolution judgment required Daniel Handlin to make monthly maintenance payments of $2,600, reduced to $2,400 upon the sale of the marital homestead.  The judgment provided a formula for further reductions to a base amount of $1,500 per month, calculated on Barbara Handlin's prospective employment income.  The judgment reserved both Barbara and Daniel Handlin's right to modify the maintenance amount under Minn. Stat. § 518.64 (Supp. 2001).

Daniel Handlin moved to reduce maintenance in February 1996, alleging that Barbara Handlin had not made a good faith effort to seek employment.  Before the hearing on the motion, the Handlins stipulated to a modification that provided for a step reduction of $200 every six months until maintenance reached the base amount of $1,500.  The new reduction formula was not contingent on Barbara Handlin's employment income.

In July 1999, Barbara Handlin moved to increase maintenance.  She based the motion on her inability to meet monthly expenses and Daniel Handlin's increased ability to pay maintenance because of a substantial raise in salary.  In a subsequent amended motion, she also moved to compel Daniel Handlin to provide proof of life insurance required by the dissolution judgment to secure his maintenance obligation.  The district court denied both motions, and Barbara Handlin appeals.



The district court has broad discretion in determining spousal maintenance.  Rutten v. Rutten, 347 N.W.2d 47, 50 (Minn. 1984).  The court must, however, make findings that reflect it considered the relevant factors in determining the amount of maintenance.  Stich v. Stich, 435 N.W.2d 52, 53 (Minn. 1989).  Findings are necessary even if the record supports the maintenance determination.  Stevens v. Stevens, 501 N.W.2d 634, 637 (Minn. App. 1993).

To modify maintenance, the person seeking modification must show both a substantial change in circumstances and that the substantial change has made the original maintenance amount unreasonable and unfair.  Minn. Stat. § 518.64, subd. 2(a); Hecker v. Hecker, 568 N.W.2d 705, 709 (Minn. 1997) (citations omitted).  In applying this two-part analysis courts must consider “in addition to all other relevant factors, the factors for an award of maintenance under section 518.552 that exist at the time of the motion.”  Minn. Stat. § 518.64, subd. 2(c).

The factors set forth in section 518.552 include the financial resources of the person seeking maintenance, the time necessary for that person to acquire appropriate employment, the standard of living established during the marriage, the duration of the marriage and its effect on employment opportunities and benefits, the age and capacity of the person seeking maintenance, the contribution of each spouse to marital property or to the other's employment, and the ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to provide maintenance.  Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 2; Cisek v. Cisek, 409 N.W.2d 233, 236 (Minn. App. 1987), review denied (Minn. Sept. 18, 1987).

The court found that Daniel Handlin’s increased income was a substantial change in circumstances but concluded that the current maintenance order was not unfair or unreasonable.  Barbara Handlin submitted affidavits relating to her inability to find work, her inability to meet her current monthly expenses, her standard of living before the divorce, her changing physical and mental condition, and Daniel Handlin’s ability to afford an increased maintenance amount.  The court confined its findings to Barbara Handlin’s income, her share of the proceeds received from the sale of the family home, and her share in Daniel Handlin’s employment benefits.  This limitation in the findings abridges the directive of Minn. Stat. § 518.64 to consider all of the factors in Minn. Stat.    § 518.552, subd. 2, that are present at the time of decision.

Daniel Handlin claims that, notwithstanding the court’s limited findings of fact, his salary increase cannot make the maintenance payments unreasonable and unfair because Barbara Handlin was well aware of his impending promotions and the corresponding raises in salary when maintenance payments were renegotiated in the 1996 stipulation.  This argument relies on Beck v. Kaplan, 566 N.W.2d 723, 726 (Minn. 1997), which we conclude is inapposite.  Unlike the circumstances in Beck, neither the stipulation nor the district court's findings establish that Barbara Handlin knew, at the time of the 1996 stipulation, that Daniel Handlin would be promoted and receive the substantial salary increase.  See Rapacke v. Rapacke, 442 N.W.2d at 340, 343 (Minn. App. 1989) (noting that appellate court cannot make factual determinations).  We also reject Daniel Handlin's argument that the 1996 stipulation makes Barbara Handlin's inability to find employment irrelevant to the maintenance determination.  See Minn. Stat. § 518.64, subd. 2(c) (requiring district court to consider factors in Minn. Stat. § 518.552 “that exist at the time of the motion”  (emphasis added)).

The district court's findings do not address Barbara Handlin’s employment prospects, her current health condition, her standard of living, her age, or Daniel Handlin’s ability to meet increased support needs based on his salary and his own needs.  The absence of findings on these factors prevents us from determining whether the district court abused its discretion in denying the modification motion.  Id.; Wallin v. Wallin, 290 Minn. 261, 266-67, 187 N.W.2d 627, 631 (1971), Lewis v. Lewis, 414 N.W.2d 588, 590 (Minn. App. 1987).  We therefore remand to the district court to make findings in accordance with Minn. Stat. § 518.64.


            The 1995 dissolution judgment requires Daniel Handlin to secure his support and maintenance obligation with a life insurance policy "in the amount of $250,000 or the lesser amount of his projected future child-support and maintenance obligations."  Daniel Handlin does not dispute the plain meaning of the provision but contends the district court reasonably determined that the judgment provided an adequate remedy by allowing Barbara Handlin a charge against his estate if he failed to provide the coverage.  But the charge against the estate is a remedy for default, not a substitute for the obligation.

The district court has not provided a legal basis to deny Barbara Handlin’s request to compel Daniel Handlin to show proof that he has obtained life insurance naming her as the beneficiary.  It is within the court's discretion to modify the policy amount in light of the elimination of the child-support obligation.  Absent modification, however, Barbara Handlin is entitled to compel proof of the requisite policy of insurance.

            Reversed and remanded.