This opinion will be unpublished and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:


Kim L. Savoie, petitioner,





Anita L. Savoie,



Filed April 9, 2002


Hanson, Judge


Renville County District Court

File No. F7-00-667


Sara J. Runchey, Runchey, Louwagie & Wellman, P.L.L.P., 533 West Main Street, Post Office Box 1043, Marshall, MN 56258 (for respondent)  


John E. Mack, Mack & Daby, 26 Main Street, Post Office Box 302, New London, MN 56273 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Hanson, Judge, and Poritsky, Judge.[*]


U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N



On appeal from a marital dissolution judgment, appellant-wife argues that the district court erred (a) by denying her request for spousal maintenance and (b) by its division of marital property.  We affirm.


After more than fifteen years of marriage, appellant-wife Anita L. Savoie and respondent-husband Kim L. Savoie separated.  A short time after separating, husband filed a dissolution petition.  In the dissolution judgment, the district court denied wife’s request for spousal maintenance and detailed which party would receive specific assets and be responsible for specific debts.  Wife appealed.


Because wife did not move the district court for amended findings or a new trial, this court’s scope of review is limited to whether the evidence sustains the district court's factual findings and whether the district court's findings support its conclusions of law and judgment.  See Keith v. Keith, 429 N.W.2d 276, 278 (Minn. App. 1988) (citing Gruenhagen v. Larson, 310 Minn. 454, 458, 246 N.W.2d 565, 569 (1976)).  The evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the district court’s findings.  Id


When determining whether to award spousal maintenance, the district court essentially balances the financial needs of the spouse seeking maintenance against the resources of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought.  Maeder v. Maeder,480 N.W.2d 677, 679 (Minn. App. 1992), review denied (Minn. Mar. 19, 1992).  In doing so, the district court must consider the factors in Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 1 (2000).  The district court may award maintenance

if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance:

(a) lacks sufficient property, including marital property apportioned to the spouse, to provide for reasonable needs of the spouse considering the standard of living established during the marriage, especially, but not limited to, a period of training or education, or

(b) is unable to provide adequate self-support, after considering the standard of living established during the marriage and all relevant circumstances, through appropriate employment, or is the custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home.


Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 1.  No single factor is dispositive.  Elwell v. Elwell, 372 N.W.2d 67, 69 (Minn. App. 1985) (citing Erlandson v. Erlandson, 318 N.W.2d 36, 38 (Minn. 1982)).  If the district court determines that a maintenance award is proper, then it will consider the factors of Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 2 (2000) to determine the amount and duration of maintenance.  Dobrin v. Dobrin, 569 N.W.2d 199, 201 (Minn. 1997).

            Wife did not provide any evidence to establish her standard of living, her living expenses, or any other financial needs.  Wife testified only that (1) she seeks maintenance because she has not been employed since 1998 as the result of an unidentified injury, (2) she has a pending legal claim for her injury, but that claim does not include a claim for loss of income because her two part-time jobs at the time of the accident only paid her in cash, (3) her attorney in the injury action told her to expect $5,000 - $7,000 as a settlement, and (4) she has not visited a professional, such as a vocational counselor or vocational evaluator, to determine that she is unable to work or whether she may be capable of working. 

            The district court found that wife “is not employed and claims that she is not employable[,] * * * is being supported by her family and has taken no steps toward becoming employable.”  Based on that finding and wife’s failure to provide essential evidence, the district court concluded that wife failed to demonstrate that she lacks sufficient property to provide for her reasonable needs, or that she is unable to adequately support herself through appropriate employment. 

Wife had the burden of demonstrating that an award of maintenance was proper.  See Dobrin, 569 N.W.2d at 202 (stating that the statute implicitly places a burden on the spouse seeking maintenance to prove the need for it).  We conclude that the district court’s findings of fact are supported by the evidence and properly reflect the failure of wife to prove facts as to which she had the burden.  We further conclude that the district court’s findings support its conclusions of law.

Wife argues that the district court should have considered the factors of Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 2 to determine whether to award maintenance.  But the factors in that subdivision are used to determine the amount and duration of a maintenance award once the district court has decided to award maintenance.  See id. at 201.  Additionally, wife argues that husband did not demonstrate why maintenance should not be awarded.  But wife, as the party seeking maintenance, had the burden of proving that maintenance should be awarded.  See id. at 202.  Because wife provided no evidence of her financial needs or her inability to work, she did not satisfy her burden of proving that she either lacks sufficient property to provide for her reasonable needs or that she is unable to provide adequate self-support. 


Minnesota law requires the court to make a “just and equitable” division of marital property.  Minn. Stat. § 518.58, subd. 1 (2000).  The division of marital property need not be mathematically equal, however.  Nazar v. Nazar,505 N.W.2d 628, 635 (Minn. App. 1993), review denied(Minn. Oct. 28, 1993).  The district court must base its findings on

all relevant factors including the length of the marriage, any prior marriage of a party, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities, needs, opportunity for future acquisition of capital assets, and income of each party.  The court shall also consider the contribution of each in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property, as well as the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker.  * * * The court may also award to either spouse the household goods and furniture of the parties, whether or not acquired during the marriage. 


Minn. Stat. § 518.58, subd. 1.

               The district court considered the length of the parties’ marriage, wife’s health, the parties’ past and current occupations, wife’s employability, and evidence of the parties’ assets and liabilities, including husband’s income, husband’s expenses, the estimated value of the home, the outstanding mortgages on the home, the value of the vehicle that was not repossessed after the parties separated, the items that each party had in his or her possession at the time of dissolution and those which could be assigned a value, the credit card debt, and the balances on the outstanding marital loans.

            The district court awarded husband the home, with a negative net equity, and the pick-up truck, valued at $5,000.  Wife testified that this was acceptable, so long as the total distribution was equitable.  The district court concluded that because wife did not “demonstrate an inability to procure employment,” one-third of the marital debt should be allocated to her and two-thirds to husband.  The district court concluded that wife had received about half of the couple’s personal property and household items prior to trial.  The district court distributed the remainder of the personal property between the parties.  Depending on the actual value of a trading card collection, wife received additional property valued as much as $50,000, while husband received property valued at $25,000. 

We conclude that the district court’s findings were supported by the evidence and that the court properly applied the law to its findings in dividing the marital property.




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