This opinion will be unpublished and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:
Paul Chamberlain, petitioner,
Mary Lou Chamberlain,
Filed May 7, 2002
Affirmed as modified
Hennepin County District Court
File No. DC 236 829
Becky Toevs Rooney, 510 Marquette Avenue, Suite 700, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellant)
Jerrold F. Bergfalk, Lindquist & Vennum P.L.L.P., 4200 IDS Center, 80 South Eighth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Hanson, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Huspeni, Judge.[*]
On appeal after remand on issues involving spousal maintenance, appellant-husband argues that the district court erred by insufficiently reducing the spousal maintenance award, by failing to conduct a hearing, and by rejecting a portion of his financial expert’s affidavit. Further, husband argues that the district court overstated his maintenance arrears. We affirm as modified.
In April 1999, appellant-husband Paul Chamberlain and respondent-wife Mary Lou Chamberlain dissolved their 20-year marriage. In the original dissolution judgment, the district court ordered husband to pay wife permanent spousal maintenance of $2,400 per month. Five months later, the district court amended the judgment, reducing husband’s spousal maintenance obligation to $1,200 per month when wife moved out of the marital homestead but reinstating the $2,400 monthly amount after the homestead was sold. In determining the spousal maintenance amount, the district court assumed a sales price for the homestead of $1 million.
Husband filed an appeal with this court. We affirmed the award of permanent spousal maintenance, but held the amount of $2,400 was excessive. Chamberlain v. Chamberlain, 615 N.W.2d 405, 412 (Minn. App. 2000), review denied (Minn. Oct. 25, 2000) (Chamberlain I). In reaching that conclusion, we considered the fact that the homestead had actually been sold for $1,300,000, providing wife with greater resources than originally contemplated by the district court. Id.
After remand, the district court denied husband’s request to hold a hearing on husband’s motion to modify spousal maintenance and on the remanded issues. Instead, the district court ordered the parties to submit written information about wife’s reasonable housing expenses. The district court granted husband’s motion to consider expert affidavits, except with respect to any analysis of wife’s cash flow, which the court excluded.
Ultimately, the district court filed its second amended judgment, which set husband’s maintenance obligation at $1,975 per month retroactive to July 1, 2000 and reserved jurisdiction over the issue of arrears. Later, the district court determined that husband had been obligated to pay maintenance of $1,200 per month between April 1999 and July 2000, credited husband for the amounts he had paid, and found him in arrears in the amount of $13,675. This appeal followed.
The district court has broad discretion to decide whether to award spousal maintenance, and an appellate court will not reverse the district court’s decision unless there has been a clear abuse of that discretion. Dobrin v. Dobrin, 569 N.W.2d 199, 202 (Minn. 1997). Before an appellate court may determine that there has been an abuse of discretion, it must determine that the district court made a “clearly erroneous conclusion that is against logic and the facts on record.” Id. (citation omitted).
The district court’s duty on remand is to execute the mandate of an appellate court strictly according to its terms. Halverson v. Vill. of Deerwood, 322 N.W.2d 761, 766 (Minn. 1982). If the appellate court does not specifically direct the district court how to proceed, the district court may exercise its discretion in a manner consistent with the remand order. Duffey v. Duffey, 432 N.W.2d 473, 476 (Minn. App. 1988) (citing John Wright & Assocs., Inc. v. City of Red Wing, 256 Minn. 101, 102, 97 N.W.2d 432, 434 (1959)).
In Chamberlain I, we affirmed the district court’s finding that maintenance should be permanent, but reversed the amount of maintenance. 615 N.W.2d at 412. We remanded “as an abuse of discretion the district court’s determination that [wife] needs monthly spousal maintenance of $2,400.” Id. at 415. We did not specifically direct the district court how to determine the appropriate amount of spousal maintenance.
Husband argues that the district court erred by decreasing his maintenance obligation by only $425, by not allowing an evidentiary hearing on remand, and by not considering the portion of one expert’s affidavit that discussed wife’s cash flow.
When determining whether to provide 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). Once the district court determines that maintenance is proper, it then considers the factors of Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 2 (2000), to determine the amount and duration of maintenance. Dobrin, 569 N.W.2d at 201. Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 2 provides that
[t]he maintenance order shall be in amounts * * * after considering all relevant factors including:
(a) the financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to the party, and the party's ability to meet needs independently * * *;
(b) the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, and the probability * * * of * * * becoming fully or partially self-supporting;
(c) the standard of living established during the marriage;
(d) the duration of the marriage * * *;
(e) * * * employment opportunities forgone by the spouse seeking spousal maintenance;
(f) the age, and the physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance;
(g) the ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance; and
(h) the contribution of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation, or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property * * *.
In Chamberlain I, we reversed the amount of $2,400 based on our determination that the monthly housing allowance component of $2,000 was excessive. 615 N.W.2d at 412. We stated:
Nonetheless, the district court used as its basis in
arriving at a maintenance amount a claimed monthly housing allowance for [wife]
of $2,000, notwithstanding that [wife] had at least $150,000 in equity to use
as a down payment. The housing needs
here are for two people, soon to be one person as the youngest child achieves
the age of majority, and given the other assets awarded to [wife] in the
permanent maintenance in the amount of $2,400 per month is excessive and an abuse of discretion.
Id. Thus,our remand implicitly authorized the district court to only reconsider the housing allowance portion of spousal maintenance.
The district court considered the net proceeds wife received from the sale of the marital homestead and wife’s expenditures for replacement housing, furniture, appliances, and legal fees. The district court determined that husband’s monthly obligation should be reduced by $425 to $1,925 per month because (1) wife’s original housing allowance was $2,000 per month; (2) wife’s purchase of a $385,000 home was not excessive; (3) wife used more than $150,000 of the proceeds from the sale of the marital homestead to purchase her new home; (4) wife’s actual monthly housing expenses for principal, interest, taxes and insurance (PITI) are $2,227.03; (5) the fact that wife exceeded her original housing allowance by $227.03 per month indicated that she had more funds available to her than the court originally anticipated; (6) a $2,000 per month allowance is excessive and it should be reduced by the additional gross funds wife actually has available; and (7) the net funds of $227.03 would imply gross funds before taxes of $425.
Although the district court’s approach is unusual, and may differ from the approach we would have used, we conclude it was not an abuse of discretion. We noted in Chamberlain I, that an abuse of discretion is not shown simply because the record could support a different result, or because we might have reached a different result on the same record. 615 N.W.2d at 412. The district court’s findings are supported by the evidence and are not against logic. Our instructions on remand were to reduce wife’s housing allowance to some reasonable figure less than $2,000. By decreasing wife’s total monthly maintenance from $2,400 to $1,975, the district court in effect reduced her housing allowance from $2,000 to $1,575. This amount, which is about $700 less than what wife is actually spending for PITI, or about two-thirds of her actual housing costs, is a reasonable amount to allocate to husband.
Husband argues the district court abused its discretion by not conducting an evidentiary hearing on remand. The district court has the discretion to determine whether to conduct an evidentiary hearing “where the facts are relatively uncomplicated and the evidence can be fairly and efficiently presented by affidavits and documentary evidence.” Christenson v. Christenson, 490 N.W.2d 447, 451 (Minn. App. 1992) (citing Sieber v. Sieber, 258 N.W.2d 754, 756 (Minn. 1977), review granted (Minn. Jan. 15, 1993) appeal dismissed (Minn. Feb. 16, 1993)). The district court acted within its discretion because affidavits and documentary evidence could be fairly and efficiently used to address the limited issue of wife’s monthly housing allowance.
Husband argues that the district court erred by excluding the portion of an expert’s affidavit that addressed wife’s cash flow. “[E]videntiary rulings, including a decision to exclude expert testimony, lie within the sound discretion of the [district] court.” Benson v. N. Gopher Enters., 455 N.W.2d 444, 445 (Minn. 1990) (citation omitted). Because the district court had already determined the parties’ resources, standard of living, and other expenses, the district court acted within the scope of its discretion by not allowing further evidence with respect to wife’s cash flow.
The district court’s second amended judgment reserved jurisdiction on the issue of whether husband owed any unpaid maintenance “as of July 1, 2000.” Later, the district court found that the monthly maintenance contained in the first amended judgment, of $1,200 until the homestead was sold, was temporary maintenance that remained in effect from April 1999 until June 2000, when the redetermined permanent maintenance became effective. The district court concluded that, because there was no appeal of the temporary maintenance to this court, Chamberlain I did not alter the temporary amount. Based on the conclusion that husband owed $1,200 per month in temporary maintenance through June 2000, the district court found husband in arrears and ordered him to pay the past due amount of $13,675.
Husband first argues that our reversal and remand fully removed any of his obligations and placed the parties in the same position they were in on April 23, 1999, when the original judgment was entered and provided only for permanent maintenance of $2,400. See Gerardy v. Gerardy, 406 N.W.2d 10, 12 (Minn. App. 1987) (stating that, when a judgment is vacated, the parties are returned to their original positions). But Chamberlain I did not reverse the imposition of spousal maintenance. It only reversed the amount of permanent maintenance. Thus, Chamberlain I did not address the $1,200 maintenance for the period until the homestead was sold.
Husband also argues that the district court erred by finding that the original maintenance of $1,200 per month was a temporary amount, which would remain in effect until the permanent amount was made effective as of July 1, 2000. The district court’s characterization of the $1,200 monthly maintenance as a temporary amount is correct because it had an end date, the date the homestead was sold. Minn. Stat. § 518.131, subd. 1 (2001). See Gales v. Gales, 553 N.W.2d 416, 422 (Minn. 1996) (stating that if there is no end date to ordered maintenance, it is permanent). However, husband is correct that the end date of the $1,200 temporary monthly maintenance expired before July 1, 2000. The amended judgment states:
Commencing with the first day of the month after [wife] moves out of the parties’ homestead, as and for spousal maintenance, [husband] shall pay $1,200.00 per month in permanent maintenance to [wife] * * *. Commencing the first day of the month after the parties’ homestead has been sold (i.e. the closing has occurred), the monthly payment shall increase to $2,400.
Thus, under the amended judgment, the temporary monthly maintenance of $1,200 terminated on the sale of the homestead. It is undisputed that the sale of the homestead occurred on November 30, 1999. Accordingly, the $1,200 temporary monthly maintenance obligation ended on November 30, 1999, and husband had no maintenance obligation from December 1999 through June 2000. As a result, the district court’s determination of husband’s arrears should be reduced from $13,675 to $5,275.
Affirmed as modified.
[*] Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.