This opinion will be unpublished and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
In re the Marriage of:
Caryl L. Erickson, petitioner,
Allan D. Erickson,
Filed February 12, 2002
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 198359
Brian L. Sobol, A. Larry Katz, Katz & Manka, Ltd., 4150 U.S. Bank Place, 601 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellant)
Jeffrey R. Arrigoni, Louis M. Reidenberg (of counsel), Jeffrey R. Arrigoni Law Offices, Woodbury Office Plaza, 1811 Weir Drive, Suite 160, Woodbury, MN 55125-2291 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Hanson, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Kalitowski, Judge.
On appeal from a dissolution judgment, appellant-wife argues that the district court failed to make adequate findings to support its denial of her request for maintenance, and that, had it made findings, it would have been required to award maintenance or, alternatively, to reserve the issue of maintenance. She also argues that the district court abused its discretion in failing to establish an above-guideline child-support obligation for respondent-husband. Because we find that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying maintenance and establishing child support, we affirm.
Appellant Caryl L. Erickson and Respondent Allan D. Erickson were married on April 7, 1970. The parties have two children – a son, who was emancipated prior to the original judgment, and a daughter, now age 19, but who was a minor at the time of trial. Husband is self-employed as the CEO of a corporation the couple formed in 1974. Wife is not currently employed but held the title of president of the corporation at its inception until 1990. Thereafter she was a full-time mother and homemaker. The parties have an estate valued at $5,476,467.
The district court, in its amended order, awarded wife $2,791,084 in marital assets and husband $2,685,383. This difference in wife’s favor recognized that wife had been out of the workforce for ten years and that, if she chose to work, she would have to start at a new place of employment.
A part of wife’s award was the parties’ $800,000 unencumbered home (which she agreed to sell after the last child graduated from high school in June of 2001). The court awarded husband the family business. A large part of husband’s award was in retirement and other pre-tax assets.
The district court did not award spousal maintenance to either party and did not reserve jurisdiction over the issue of spousal maintenance. The court ordered husband to pay $1,570/month in child support, the maximum guideline amount. Wife appeals.
Wife claims that the district court abused its discretion by failing to award her spousal maintenance. The standard of review from a district court’s decision on spousal maintenance is whether the district court abused its wide discretion. Erlandson v. Erlandson,318 N.W.2d 36, 38 (Minn. 1982). This court will not find an abuse of discretion absent “a clearly erroneous conclusion that is against logic and the facts on the record.” Rutten v. Rutten,347 N.W.2d 47, 50 (Minn. 1984) (citation omitted).
Spousal maintenance awards are governed by Minn. Stat. § 518.552 (2000), which enumerates factors to aid district courts when they consider whether to award maintenance. However, no single factor is dispositive. Elwell v. Elwell, 372 N.W.2d 67, 69 (Minn. 1985). A trial court may award maintenance if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her reasonable needs, or is unable to provide adequate self-support through appropriate employment. Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 1. The amount and duration of maintenance depends on the needs of the party seeking maintenance and the ability of the other party to pay, in light of the standard of living established during the marriage. Id., subd. 2; Erlandson, 318 N.W.2d at 39-40.
Wife first argues that the district erred in not awarding maintenance because husband has the ability to pay maintenance. However, husband’s ability to pay maintenance does not obviate the statutory mandate to consider wife’s independent financial resources. Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 2(a); Lyon v. Lyon, 439 N.W.2d 18, 22 (Minn. 1989).
Wife then argues that the district court erred in concluding that wife’s independent financial resources were adequate to satisfy her needs. The district court denied wife’s motion to amend, stating:
In large measure, both parties received what they wanted. [Wife] did not want to work and neither party wanted Dagan Corporation. [Husband] wanted to be able to retire and to sell the Dagan Corporation and/or the building in which it operates. Employment income was not imputed to [wife]. [Husband] was awarded Dagan Corporation, and is free to sell it if he chooses. [Wife] was awarded the homestead. The assets awarded to each party are suffiicent for their support. Both parties have the opportunity [to] order their lives and assets as they please.
The district court’s conclusions on the adequacy of wife’s financial resources fairly reflect the manner in which the parties presented the issues at trial and are within the court’s discretion.
The district court found wife’s reasonable monthly expenses to be $6,900. Reasonable expenses are based on the parties’ standard of living during the marriage. See Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 2(c); Flynn v. Flynn, 402 N.W.2d 111, 115 (Minn. App. 1987), review denied (Minn. Nov. 24, 1987). The court found husband’s testimony concerning the parties’ standard of living to be more credible, and that wife provided inadequate pre-separation documentary evidence to support her claimed monthly expenses of $11,484. We cannot say that the district court clearly erred in finding wife’s reasonable monthly needs to be $6,900.
The district court found that, at an expected annual return of 6.5%, wife could earn over $105,000 annually, or $8,750 monthly, from the assets distributed to her in the division of the parties’ marital property. The court therefore concluded that wife had sufficient property to provide for her reasonable needs. Although the district court also found that wife had the ability to earn $35,000 annually, it did not need to impute this income to her because her investment income already exceeded her reasonable expenses.
Wife claims that the district court overstated her investment income by (a) not deducting income taxes; (b) assuming proceeds from the sale of the homestead that did not reflect reductions for selling costs and capital gains taxes; (c) not considering the decrease in the value of her money market account after trial; and (d) not deducting her credit card debt of $101,731 from the value of her investment assets.
We conclude that wife’s arguments concerning selling costs and taxes were not properly preserved for appeal. When the case was tried, neither party presented evidence of the cost of selling the homestead. Likewise, no evidence was presented regarding the future tax consequences of their respective proposals for property division or maintenance. While the district court may, in its discretion, consider the impact of the possible tax consequences of its dissolution decree, the court is not allowed to speculate and the parties must provide sufficient information so that the actual tax liability “can be calculated with a reasonable degree of certainty.” Miller v. Miller, 352 N.W.2d 738, 744 (Minn. 1984); see also Johnson v. Johnson, 277 N.W.2d 208, 213 (Minn. 1979) (finding no error in district court’s refusal to consider tax consequences “where no evidence on the issue was presented at trial”).
Further, when the district court calculated wife’s ability to support herself without considering the impact of taxes or selling costs, wife did not specify this as error in her motion for a new trial. While wife did propose an amended finding, that wife could be expected to earn only “$53,000 per year on her share of the parties’ liquid assets,” her motion did not explain or provide support for that calculation. Finally, when wife offered calculations of selling costs and tax calculations at the hearing on the motion for a new trial, the district court sustained objection to them as not having been provided with the motion for a new trial. Accordingly, wife’s argument is not properly before this court. See Thiele v. Stich, 425 N.W.2d 580, 582 (Minn. 1988) (stating that a party may not raise new issues on appeal); Peters v. Bodin, 242 Minn. 489, 492, 65 N.W.2d 917, 919 (1954) (holding that an alleged error that is not made the basis for a motion for a new trial cannot be considered on appeal).
Moreover, the district court’s failure to consider these costs would not be an abuse of discretion under these particular facts. First, the district court’s property division likewise ignored the tax consequences, even though husband received a greater share of pre-tax assets. Second, had wife’s investment income been insufficent to provide for her needs, the court would have been required to consider the imputation of employment income to wife, which would have eliminated any shortfall.
The district court was not obliged to consider the decline in the value of a money market account since the time of trial. Under Minnesota law, marital assets are generally to be valued as of the day of the initially scheduled prehearing conference. Minn. Stat. § 518.58, subd 1 (2000). Although the initial prehearing settlement conference was scheduled for June 14, 1999, wife argues that the district court should have used the value of the account in October 2000, when it heard the motion to amend the findings. In its amended findings, the court actually did recognize the decline in value after June 14, 1999, using the exhibits presented at trial which presented a value as of April 2000. This determination favored wife and was well within the district court’s discretion.
Wife argues that the court failed to consider her large credit card debt when determining her anticipated investment income. The court clearly considered this debt, but specifically found that wife did not prove that the credit card debt, incurred during the parties’ separation, was necessary to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage. Accordingly, it was within the court’s discretion to exclude this debt in determining the value of wife’s investment assets. A party cannot be permitted to benefit from the unnecessary depletion of marital assets within her control. Bollenbach v. Bollenbach, 285 Minn. 418, 428, 175 N.W.2d 148, 155 (1970).
Wife claims that the district court erred in failing to reserve jurisdiction over the issue of spousal maintenance. Reservation of spousal maintenance allows the court to later assess and address future changes in one party’s situation, without prematurely burdening the other party. Van de Loo v. Van de Loo, 346 N.W.2d 173, 178 (Minn. App. 1984). Typically, maintenance is reserved in those situations where one spouse is self-sufficient at the time of trial but future self-sufficiency is uncertain. Tomscak v. Tomscak, 352 N.W.2d 464, 466 (Minn. App. 1984) (requiring the district court to amend the parties’ decree to include a reservation of jurisdiction on the maintenance issue where wife’s cancer could recur); see Wopata v. Wopata, 498 N.W.2d 478, 485-86 (Minn. App. 1993) (upholding reservation of maintenance where at the time of dissolution, husband was financially self-sufficient but heart problems made his future ability to meet his reasonable needs uncertain). Whether to reserve jurisdiction over the issue of maintenance is within the district court’s discretion. Minn. Stat. § 518.55, subd. 1 (2000).
Wife presented evidence of several medical conditions. Both parties presented expert testimony regarding wife’s ability to function in the workplace in light of these medical conditions. While the experts disagreed as to the ultimate income that wife could reasonably expect to earn, both experts agreed, and the court found, that wife could earn $35,000 annually, after a transition period. Under these facts, we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion by declining to reserve maintenance.
Wife claims that the district court erred by failing to deviate upward from the guidelines amount in establishing husband’s child support obligation. Wife contends that the guidelines amount is insufficient to provide for the care, support and education of the child when viewed in the context of the parties’ standard of living. Further, wife argues that the district court abused its discretion by failing to make adequate findings on the issue of child support and by failing to require husband to contribute to the minor child’s private school educational costs.
A district court has broad discretion in determining child support and will be reversed for abuse of discretion only if there is a “clearly erroneous conclusion that is against logic and the facts on record.” Rutten v. Rutten, 347 N.W.2d 47, 50 (Minn. 1984) (citation omitted). “The guidelines * * * are a rebuttable presumption and shall be used in all cases when establishing * * * child support.” Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5(i) (2000) (emphasis added).
Here, the district court determined father’s income exceeded the income cap of $6,280 set by the guidelines. Accordingly, it established his monthly child-support obligation at $1,570, the maximum allowed under the guidelines. See Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5(k) (2000) (establishing maximum income limit for application of guidelines). While the guidelines amount for child support is a rebuttable presumption, the court may deviate only if it finds it is in the child’s best interest and it provides written findings. Minn. Stat. § 518.551, subd. 5(i).
We conclude that wife failed to present sufficient evidence to compel an upward deviation from the guidelines. See Sherburne County Soc. Servs. v. Riedele, 481 N.W.2d 111, 113 (Minn. App. 1992) (noting an obligor’s high income alone is not sufficient to support an upward departure from the guidelines). Wife did not provide sufficient evidence of specific expenses in excess of the guidelines amount, and some of the future expenses she claimed, including private school tuition, were shown to have been already paid. Thus, the district court did not abuse its discretion in making the child-support determination.