This opinion will be unpublished and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:
Kimberly Ann Anderson, petitioner,
Joel Mark Anderson,
Filed June 11, 2002
Ramsey County District Court
File No. F9991172
John R. Schulz, Jennifer A. Jameson, Collins, Buckley, Sauntry & Haugh, PLLP, W-1100 First National Bank Building, 332 Minnesota Street, Saint Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent)
Michael C. Hager, Joel M. Anderson, 2150 Third Street, White Bear Lake, MN 55110 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Shumaker, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Willis, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant-husband challenges the judgment regarding issues reserved when the parties dissolved their marriage, arguing that the district court erred by (1) valuing the parties’ marital property at amounts unsupported by the evidence; (2) inequitably dividing marital property, including debt; (3) failing to make findings regarding his nonmarital-property claims; (4) failing to award him spousal maintenance; (5) failing to award child support pursuant to the statutory guidelines; (6) improperly vacating the parties’ custody stipulation; and (7) awarding respondent-wife conduct-based attorney fees. He “also appeals from all pretrial orders and adverse evidentiary rulings at trial.” Because we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion, we affirm.
Appellant Joel Mark Anderson and respondent Kimberly Ann Anderson married in 1973. Appellant practices law; respondent practices medicine. Their marriage produced three children. In 1999, respondent petitioned the district court for dissolution of the marriage, and, in August 2000, the district court entered judgment dissolving the marriage and reserving all other issues for trial.
In July 2001, following a trial on the reserved issues, the district court divided the parties’ marital property, including debt, between them; denied appellant’s motion for spousal maintenance; reserved the child-support issue; awarded the parties joint legal custody of their three children; and awarded sole physical custody of the oldest child to appellant and of the two younger children to respondent. The district court also assessed $75,000 in conduct-based attorney fees against appellant for “unnecessarily and significantly” contributing to the length and expense of the proceeding. This appeal follows.
Appellant did not move the district court for a new trial.
On appeal from a judgment where there has been no motion for new trial, the only questions for review are whether the evidence sustains the findings of fact and whether such findings sustain the conclusions of law and the judgment.
Erickson v. Erickson, 434 N.W.2d 284, 286 (Minn. App. 1989) (citation omitted).
[A district] court’s findings of fact are given great deference, and shall not be set aside unless clearly erroneous. * * * If there is reasonable evidence to support the [district] court’s findings of fact, [this court] should not disturb those findings.
Fletcher v. St. Paul Pioneer Press, 589 N.W.2d 96, 101 (Minn. 1999) (citations omitted).
I. Marital property
A. Valuation of marital property
Appellant contends that the district court erred by valuing the parties’ marital property at amounts unsupported by the evidence. The valuation of an asset “should be supported by either clear documentary or testimonial evidence or by comprehensive findings issued by the court.” Ronnkvist v. Ronnkvist, 331 N.W.2d 764, 766 (Minn. 1983). But the district court need not be exact in its valuation of assets; “it is only necessary that the value arrived at lies within a reasonable range of figures.” Maurer v. Maurer, 623 N.W.2d 604, 608 (Minn. 2001) (quotation and citation omitted). We will not set aside a district court’s valuation of an asset unless it is “clearly erroneous on the record as a whole.” Hertz v. Hertz, 304 Minn. 144, 145, 229 N.W.2d 42, 44 (1975) (citations omitted).
The district court established a range of values for the parties’ extensive collection of antique fishing tackle and traps (collectibles) of $386,113 to $491,550. Appellant contends that the collectibles should have been valued at $161,628 to $187,029, based on the testimony of his witnesses. But other witnesses who testified at trial valued the collectibles at a range of $375,463 to $491,550. We defer to the district court’s determination regarding the credibility and weight of evidence that expert witnesses provided. See State ex rel. Trimble v. Hedman, 291 Minn. 442, 456, 192 N.W.2d 432, 440 (1971) (“The weight and credibility to be given to the opinion of an expert lies with the factfinder.”).
Appellant also claims that the district court erred by failing to deduct from the valuation of the collectibles 25% of the value that expert witnesses testified would be lost upon liquidation. But because appellant cites no legal authority to support his claim that the district court must consider the liquidation value of property, we decline to address it here. See Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 128.02, subd. 1(d) (providing that briefs must include citations to legal authorities); Stephens v. Bd. of Regents, 614 N.W.2d 764, 771 n.4 (Minn. App. 2000) (declining to address claims not supported by citation to relevant legal authority or by legal analysis), review denied (Minn. Sept. 26, 2000).
Appellant disputes the district court’s valuation of the homestead, which was awarded to respondent, arguing that the district court improperly deducted $45,250 from the appraised value of the homestead for proposed repairs and improvements. Respondent testified that the homestead needed approximately $45,000 in repairs and offered into evidence a detailed list of necessary home repairs and their estimated cost. The district court based its valuation on that evidence and on the testimony of a real-estate appraiser. Appellant argues that the repairs and improvements would benefit respondent. But the cost of those repairs is respondent’s obligation. Based on the evidence as a whole, the district court’s valuation of the homestead is not clearly erroneous.
Appellant argues that the district court misvalued respondent’s medical practice, an antique-book collection, and other personal property, including tools, guns, and silverware. A business appraiser testified at trial that respondent’s medical practice had no value because its liabilities exceeded its assets. Appellant contends that the district court erred by not considering certain evidence when valuing respondent’s medical practice, including, for example, the amount of insurance that she carried on the practice’s personal property. But appellant fails to explain how considering such evidence would have had an impact on the business appraiser’s conclusion that respondent’s medical practice had no net value.
Witness testimony at trial or documents admitted into evidence supports the district court’s valuation of the tools, guns, silverware, and other personal property. Because the district court assigned values to the property that are supported by testimonial or documentary evidence, or both, the district court did not clearly err when it valued the parties’ marital property.
Appellant contends that the district court abused its discretion by inequitably dividing marital property. “District courts have broad discretion over the division of marital property, and [this court] will not disturb the division on appeal absent a clear abuse of discretion.” Chamberlain v. Chamberlain, 615 N.W.2d 405, 412 (Minn. App. 2000) (citation omitted), review denied (Minn. Oct. 25, 2000). For this court to find that the district court abused its discretion, the district court’s conclusions must be “against logic and the facts on [the] record.” Rutten v. Rutten, 347 N.W.2d 47, 50 (Minn. 1984) (citation omitted). When the evidence supports the district court’s division, we will affirm even if we might have reached a different conclusion. Stassen v. Stassen, 351 N.W.2d 20, 23 (Minn. App. 1984).
Minn. Stat. § 518.58, subd. 1 (2000), provides:
Upon a dissolution of a marriage, * * * the court shall make a just and equitable division of the marital property of the parties without regard to marital misconduct, after making findings regarding the division of the property. The court shall base its findings on all relevant factors * * * . 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. It shall be conclusively presumed that each spouse made a substantial contribution to the acquisition of income and property while they were living together as husband and wife.
Appellant argues that, based on the evidence, the district court inequitably awarded him $80,733, or 8% of the marital property. But based on its valuation of the collectibles and other marital property, the district court awarded appellant marital property valued at $488,237 to $593,674, or 40% to 45% of the marital estate, and awarded respondent marital property valued at $717,912, or 55% to 60% of the marital estate.
Appellant argues that the parties’ long-term marriage warranted an equal division of property. He contends that the district court ignored his significant contribution to the acquisition of income and property and to the marriage as a homemaker and as the children’s caregiver.
By awarding at least $488,237, or 40%, of the marital estate to appellant, the district court recognized his substantial contribution to the parties’ acquisition of money and property during the marriage. See id. Although it is “conclusively presumed” that each spouse substantially contributed to the acquisition of income and property while living together as husband and wife, “an equitable property division does not necessarily require equal distribution.” Ziemer v. Ziemer, 401 N.W.2d 432, 433 (Minn. App. 1987) (citation omitted), review denied (Minn. Apr. 29, 1987). Upon the dissolution of a long-term marriage, an equal division of property is appropriate when the parties accumulated that property through their joint efforts. Miller v. Miller, 352 N.W.2d 738, 742 (Minn. 1984). Once the district court applies the conclusive presumption, it may consider the relevant statutory factors and determine that a fair division is not an equal division. Letsch v. Letsch, 409 N.W.2d 239, 243 (Minn. App. 1987).
Appellant argues that he supported the family from 1973 until 1984 but acknowledges that the parties had no savings as of 1988. The district court found that (1) from 1984 through 1998, appellant’s law practice had a cumulative loss of $63,174; respondent’s wages totaled $1,496,528 during the same period, (2) the parties engaged part-time nannies to care for their children and otherwise shared that responsibility, (3) appellant borrowed significant sums of money that respondent repaid and that appellant used to buy collectibles, not to support the family; and (4) appellant made frequent hunting and fishing trips, and because he was on one of the trips, he was not available to help respondent while she recuperated from surgery.
Appellant cites the findings as evidence that the district court improperly based the property division on its “pervasive view of alleged marital misconduct” by him. But the findings all bear directly on the issue of whether appellant contributed to “the acquisition, preservation, depreciation or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property” and whether he contributed as a homemaker. See Minn. Stat. § 518.58, subd. 1. The district court concluded that appellant “did not contribute in any meaningful way to the support of the family or accumulation of assets.” The record supports the court’s findings on that issue, and the findings support the conclusion.
Appellant complains that the district court abused its discretion when it failed to award to him one-half the value of respondent’s deferred-compensation account. But “[t]he contribution of a party in the acquisition of assets is a factor in determining the division of marital property.” Montgomery v. Montgomery, 358 N.W.2d 169, 174 (Minn. App. 1984) (citing Minn. Stat. § 518.58). In Hense1 v. Hensel, the supreme court affirmed a district court’s award of a wife’s vested interest in her profit-sharing account entirely to her, in part because she had generated substantially more income during the marriage than her husband. 266 N.W.2d 712, 713 (Minn. 1978); see Kvenild v. Kvenild, 410 N.W.2d 70, 72 (Minn. App. 1987) (holding that district court did not err by awarding one party his pension income when other party had sufficient assets to provide for her own support).
Appellant contends that the district court improperly awarded him fishing reels that are missing from his collection. He alleges that respondent stole the reels from his law office; she testified that she took the reels to have them appraised and returned them later that same day to where she had found them. The district court found respondent’s testimony credible, and this court defers to the district court’s credibility determinations. Vangsness v. Vangsness, 607 N.W.2d 468, 472 (Minn. App. 2000).
Appellant claims that respondent agreed to indemnify him for $2,500 in tax credits that he lost because he filed joint income tax returns with her “as part of the court order to file jointly for Respondent’s benefit.” The record shows that the court did not order him to file joint returns with respondent, and appellant offers no evidence that he lost tax credits because he filed joint returns with respondent.
Appellant argues that the district court ignored the parties’ stipulation to divide post-separation tax refunds equally and instead awarded appellant nothing but “seized assets.” But his citation to the transcript in support of this argument indicates only that he testified, “And there is a Minnesota tax [refund] of $400 for 1998 that still hasn’t been divided either or credited.”
Appellant contends that the district court’s refusal to “enforce Rule 37” against respondent allowed her to withhold from him income information and business records, to refuse him access to his boat, and to hide jewelry, china, and silver. We conclude that appellant means to challenge one or more of the district court’s discovery rulings. See Minn. R. Civ. P. 37.01-.04 (governing failure to make or to cooperate in discovery). Because appellant offers no supporting legal analysis for this claim, we decline to address it. See Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 128.02, subd. 1(d) (providing that brief must include analysis); Stephens, 614 N.W.2d at 771 n.4 (declining to address claims unsupported by legal analysis).
Finally, appellant alleges that respondent deceived the district court by failing to disclose $19,195 in bank accounts as of the marital-valuation date. But the bank-account statements that were admitted into evidence to support his claim show that $10,929 was on deposit in respondent’s business account. The district court awarded respondent’s medical practice in its entirety to her.
The evidence shows that two other checking accounts in respondent’s name totaling $8,265 existed on or near the marriage-valuation date. Although it appears that the district court made every effort to provide comprehensive findings regarding the parties’ property, the $8,265 is not included in those findings. But in the context of the total value of the parties’ property, this omission does not make the property award inequitable. See Prahl v. Prahl, 627 N.W.2d 698, 704-05 (Minn. App. 2001) (finding district court’s division of marital property equitable, despite erroneous valuation of parties’ van by as much as $6,773).
C. Division of marital debt
The district court apportioned $41,843 in debt to appellant, finding that the debt was incurred in the operation of his law practice. But appellant contends that the district court actually apportioned $106,629, or 92%, of marital debt to him.
Minn. Stat. § 518.58 provides that, upon a dissolution of a marriage, “the court shall make a just and equitable division” of marital debt, as well as marital property. O’Donnell v. O’Donnell, 412 N.W.2d 394, 396 (Minn. App. 1987). The district court has broad discretion in apportioning the parties’ debt. Dahlberg v. Dahlberg, 358 N.W.2d 76, 80 (Minn. App. 1984). When making an equitable apportionment of marital debt, the court may consider which party is responsible for incurring that debt. Id. The court may equitably apportion debt to one spouse even when the other receives the benefit of payment. Id.
Appellant includes in his calculation of marital debt a loan for approximately $50,000 that his father made to the parties to help them purchase their home and a loan for $5,400 that his father made to appellant for the purchase of antique fishing tackle. Appellant claims that the loans remain outstanding. But appellant’s father testified at trial that he both gifted and loaned the parties money and that, at times, he forgave interest and the principal owing. Appellant’s father testified that he believed that the parties owed him approximately $50,000 and that Exhibit 121 described the loans for which he expected repayment. Exhibit 121, admitted into evidence, described loans totaling $49,516 that appellant’s father had made to the parties from April 1977 to March 1988 and described payments totaling $62,800 that the parties had made to him from June 1990 to December 1997. Appellant alone executed the loan agreements that were admitted into evidence. Evidence therefore supports the district court’s determination that no marital loan from appellant’s father remains outstanding.
Appellant claims that the district court omitted in its findings a marital loan of $1,295 owing to another person. But even if the marital loan of $1,295 exists, appellant offered no evidence that he is obligated to pay it and, therefore, failed to show that he has been prejudiced by its omission.
Finally, appellant contends that the district court erroneously found that he did not challenge respondent’s testimony that the remaining debts were his alone, incurred in the operation of his law practice. Regardless, the district court found respondent’s testimony on this issue credible, and we defer to the district court’s credibility determinations. See Vangsness, 607 N.W.2d at 472. The district court did not abuse its discretion in apportioning the parties’ debt.
Appellant contends that the district court erred by not awarding him certain property that he claims is nonmarital. “Whether property is marital or nonmarital is a question of law, but a reviewing court must defer to the [district] court’s underlying findings of fact.” Olsen v. Olsen, 562 N.W.2d 797, 800 (Minn. 1997) (citation omitted). Property that either spouse acquires during the marriage is presumed marital, regardless of how that property is owned. Minn. Stat. § 518.54, subd. 5 (2000). To overcome that presumption,
a party must demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that the property is nonmarital. * * * For nonmarital property to maintain its nonmarital status, it must either be kept separate from marital property or, if commingled with marital property, be readily traceable.
Olsen, 562 N.W.2d at 800 (citations omitted).
Appellant claims that most of the trap collection, which the district court valued at $24,690, is nonmarital because he collected traps for 11 years before the parties married. But appellant testified at trial:
After 15 years [of marriage], we still had no savings but I had had considerable collectibles that I had accrued even before marriage. I sold some of them. We paid for living expenses by liquidating many of the assets, the tools of my prior trade * * * .
I sold a good amount of my trap collection in about three stages. My trap collection these days is far smaller than my trap collection was at the time of my marriage. But it is a little confusing because the traps have been somewhat intermingled and some of the things that I had before marriage have been sold and some of the things that I still retain have come after the marriage, but the value of the collection or the bulk of the collection is way down from the time that I was married.
He offered no evidence tracing specific traps to him as nonmarital property.
Likewise, he contends that his nonmarital property includes coins worth $33 to $42,a wolf rug, jewelry, an Aladdin lamp, a yulebakken horse, a drill press and table saw, two place settings of silver, and unappraised books. The district court awarded him the wolf rug and an antelope rack as nonmarital property. But appellant offered insufficient evidence or no evidence to support his claim that the remaining property is nonmarital. For example, regarding the drill press and table saw, appellant cites his own testimony to support his claims:
The drill press, the table saw, that’s items number 13 and 15 – table saw is non-marital. The radial arm saw and the drill press are in [respondent’s] possession. She can have them.
Thus, appellant failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the remaining property that he claims is nonmarital is, in fact, nonmarital. See Olsen, 562 N.W.2d at 800.
Appellant also claims that respondent violated a court order when she sold a John Deere tractor, appraised at $1,975. He contends that the district court erred when it did not sanction her for the sale and that the district court improperly awarded her the sale proceeds of $600. Respondent claims that the tractor did not run, that it had water in the engine, and that appellant gave her permission to sell the tractor for $600. She provided the district court with a sale receipt for $600. The court found respondent’s testimony credible, and this court defers to the district court’s credibility determinations. Vangsness,607 N.W.2d at 472.
Appellant claims that the district court abused its discretion by not awarding him spousal maintenance, arguing that the district court (1) had no basis to impute income or earning capacity to him of $50,000 to $75,000 a year, (2) failed to make the required statutory findings for temporary or permanent maintenance, and (3) failed to consider the parties’ “widely disparate [future] social-security benefits.”
A district court has “broad discretion in determining the level and duration of spousal maintenance.” Gessner v. Gessner, 487 N.W.2d 921, 923 (Minn. App. 1992) (citation omitted). We will uphold the district court’s findings of fact regarding spousal maintenance unless they are clearly erroneous. Id. A finding is clearly erroneous if “a reviewing court is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made.” Gjovik v. Strope, 401 N.W.2d 664, 667 (Minn. 1987). For this court to conclude that the district court abused its broad discretion regarding an award of spousal maintenance, the district court’s findings must be “against logic and the facts on [the] record.” Rutten, 347 N.W.2d at 50 (citation omitted).
Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 1 (2000), provides that the district court may award spousal 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 * * * .
“In the questionable case, the statute directs that the district court order permanent maintenance, leaving the order open for later modification.” Chamberlain, 615 N.W.2d at 409 (citing Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 3).
Although “[c]ourts cannot force a spouse to work at a specific job,” a court may consider a spouse’s earning potential when determining whether a spousal-maintenance award is appropriate. Flynn v. Flynn, 402 N.W.2d 111, 114-15 (Minn. App. 1987) (citation omitted), review denied (Minn. Nov. 24, 1987). Appellant, a licensed attorney, argues that he needs further training to be self-supporting. But he has practiced law for 14 years. He stated on an application for a mortgage in his name alone that his income was $130,000 per year, and he testified that he has periodically traded collectibles for profit. Witnesses testified that they had made a comfortable living trading similar collectibles.
Appellant argues that the district court failed to make the required statutory findings for determining spousal maintenance. See Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 2 (listing statutory factors district court must consider when determining spousal maintenance); Davey v. Davey, 415 N.W.2d 84, 87 (Minn. App. 1987) (“No single statutory factor for determining the type or amount of maintenance is dispositive.”), review denied (Minn. Jan. 20, 1988). But “[w]e may treat statutory factors as addressed when they are implicit in the findings.” Prahl, 627 N.W.2d at 703 (citation omitted). The district court apparently accepted the monthly expenses that appellant submitted into evidence and found that he could meet his expenses by working as an attorney or by using his knowledge of collectibles and through his property award. See id. (affirming district court’s decision not to award spousal maintenance based on findings that implicitly addressed statutory factors). The record supports that finding; the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying appellant spousal maintenance.
IV. Child support
Appellant argues that the district court abused its discretion by failing to award child support pursuant to the statutory guidelines. A district court has broad discretion to provide for the support of the parties’ children. Rutten, 347 N.W.2d at 50. The district court abuses its discretion by establishing child support in a manner that is against logic and the facts on the record. Id. We will affirm a district court’s decision regarding child support on appeal if the decision has a reasonable basis in fact. Duffney v. Duffney, 625 N.W.2d 839, 841 (Minn. App. 2001).
Appellant argues that the district court erred by imputing income to him for the purposes of calculating child support because the district court failed to make a finding that he unjustifiably self-limited his income. But the district court did not establish child support; it expressly reserved the issue. See Mulroy v. Mulroy, 354 N.W.2d 66, 69 (Minn. App. 1984) (holding that setting child support after reservation of issue initially establishes rather than modifies child support). Considering that appellant has sole physical custody of the oldest child and respondent has sole physical custody of the two younger children and that the parties expect their oldest child to graduate from high school in a year, the district court’s decision to reserve the issue of child support until the oldest child’s graduation is not illogical or against the facts on the record. See Rutten, 347 N.W.2d at 50.
Appellant contends that the district court improperly vacated the parties’ child-custody stipulation. Our review of a custody determination is limited to whether the district court abused its discretion by making findings not supported by the evidence or by improperly applying the law. Silbaugh v. Silbaugh, 543 N.W.2d 639, 641 (Minn. 1996). We will sustain a district court’s findings of fact unless they are clearly erroneous. Pikula v. Pikula, 374 N.W.2d 705, 710 (Minn. 1985).
At a temporary-relief hearing, in response to the district court’s comment that it understood that the parties had reached an agreement regarding “temporary matters,” respondent’s counsel stated that the parties had agreed to a custody arrangement that they believed would “obviate the need for any further Court Services involvement.” For the record, she stated that the parties had agreed to joint legal and joint physical custody of all three children, subject to the oldest child’s “significant input into where she is going to primarily reside.” Respondent’s counsel agreed to reduce to writing the “temporary order” regarding issues discussed at the hearing. Neither party objected at that time to the district court’s use of the word “temporary” to describe the order.
Respondent drafted the temporary order, and appellant objected to its terms. He submitted a letter to the district court claiming that the proposed temporary order departed from the terms of the parties’ agreement because it granted the parties joint physical custody of the oldest child; he understood that the agreement would allow her to choose where she wanted to live.
Upon learning that appellant disagreed with the terms of the proposed temporary order and that respondent had second thoughts regarding the arrangement, the district court ordered a custody evaluation, noting that “there hasn’t been a meeting of the minds.” See Pekarek v. Wilking, 380 N.W.2d 161, 163 (Minn. App. 1986) (stating that for a stipulation to stand, a meeting of the minds on the agreement’s essential terms must have occurred). No motion, therefore, was required to vacate the stipulation because the evidence supports the district court’s finding that no stipulation between the parties regarding child custody existed. We therefore do not address appellant’s arguments that the district court improperly vacated the custody stipulation with respect to the two younger children or that the district court’s custody determination constituted a “modification” made without the statutory findings that he contends Minn. Stat. § 518.18 (2000) requires.
Appellant contends that the district court failed to make detailed findings on each of the factors to be considered in determining child custody. See Minn. Stat. § 518.17 (2000). Minn. Stat. § 518.166 (2000) provides that in contested custody proceedings, the district court may seek recommendations regarding custody from professionals. The district court ordered a custody evaluation from county court services and, at trial, received into evidence the custody report based on that evaluation. In its order, the district court expressly adopted the report and noted that both the report and the evaluator’s trial testimony “carefully delineated the statutory criteria” that the evaluator considered in making his report.
Appellant cites Oltmanns v. Oltmanns for the proposition that it is prejudicial error for the district court to deny the parties to a custody proceeding an opportunity to cross-examine the custody evaluator and rebut the contents of a report. See 265 Minn. 377, 379-80, 121 N.W.2d 779, 781-82 (1963). But the evaluator testified at trial, and both parties had the opportunity to examine him. Appellant contends that he was “improperly shielded” from cross-examining the evaluator. To the contrary, the record shows that during his cross-examination appellant asked the evaluator for advice regarding the children. After appellant admitted that he was asking for advice, instead of eliciting testimony, the district court declined to require the evaluator to answer the question.
Finally, appellant argues that the district court erred by not allowing the two younger children to testify regarding their custodial preference. Although factors to consider in determining custody include the child’s reasonable custodial preference, “[w]hether to interview children to ascertain their preferences as to custody is within the [district] court’s discretion.” Knott v. Knott, 418 N.W.2d 505, 509 (Minn. App. 1988); see Minn. Stat. § 518.17, subd. 1(2); Minn. Stat. § 518.166 (providing that district court may interview child to ascertain the child’s custodial preference); Madgett v. Madgett, 360 N.W.2d 411, 413 (Minn. App. 1985) (“An interview is not the only way to determine a child’s preference.”). At trial, the custody evaluator testified that he had interviewed the children regarding their custodial preference and that he preferred that neither party hear what the children might have to say if they testified because of the potentially negative impact on the parties’ parent-child relationships. The district court did not, therefore, abuse its discretion by not allowing the children to testify regarding custodial preference.
The district court awarded respondent $75,000 in conduct-based attorney fees and costs, finding that appellant “contributed unnecessarily and significantly to the length and expense of this proceeding” by filing numerous, repetitive, and unfounded motions for relief; by repeatedly renewing motions for spousal maintenance despite his ability to support himself; and by interfering with respondent’s attempts to appraise the parties’ property. To satisfy the award, the district court ordered appellant to deliver to respondent, in lieu of cash, specific antique fishing lures from the collectibles awarded to appellant. In making the award, the district court noted that it
has had no other family law matter before it that has required such significant court involvement and in this case, it is due to [appellant’s] conduct.
Appellant contends that the district court abused its discretion by awarding conduct-based attorney fees and costs, arguing that (1) the district court did not expressly find that he acted in bad faith, (2) both parties contributed to the length and expense of the proceeding, (3) awarding respondent more than one-half of her fees and costs is unreasonable, and (4) respondent filed no motion for an award of conduct-based attorney fees.
Stat. § 518.14, subd. 1 (2000), authorizes the district court to award attorney
fees “against a party who unreasonably contributes to the length or expense of
[a] proceeding.” An award of
conduct-based attorney fees under Minn. Stat. § 518.14,
subd. 1, “rests almost entirely within the discretion of the [district] court and will not be disturbed absent a clear abuse of discretion.” Crosby v. Crosby, 587 N.W.2d 292, 298 (Minn. App. 1998) (quotation omitted), review denied (Minn. Feb. 18, 1999). Moreover,
[f]ee awards under Minn. Stat. § 518.14 may be based on the impact a party’s behavior has had on the costs of the litigation regardless of the relative financial resources of the parties.
Dabrowski v. Dabrowski, 477 N.W.2d 761, 766 (Minn. App. 1991) (citation omitted).
A finding of bad faith is not required for the district court to award conduct-based attorney fees under Minn. Stat. § 518.14. Geske v. Marcolina, 624 N.W.2d 813, 818-19 (Minn. App. 2001). Further, the record does not support appellant’s claim that both parties contributed to the length and expense of the proceeding. See Nazar v. Nazar, 505 N.W.2d 628, 636 (Minn. App. 1993) (stating that award of attorney fees was not justified when no one party was solely responsible for complex and protracted procedural history of proceeding), review denied (Minn. Oct. 28, 1993).
Appellant cites Bollenbach v. Bollenbach for the proposition that an award of more than one-half of the recipient’s fees and costs is unreasonable. 285 Minn. 418, 175 N.W.2d 148 (1970). In Bollenbach, the supreme court recognized that dividing the parties’ complex marital estate required the special expertise of attorneys to preserve as much of the estate as possible. Id. at 441, 175 N.W.2d at 162. In that case, the court treated the attorney fees incurred like marital debt, offsetting the fees against the marital assets. Id. at 442, 175 N.W.2d at 162-63. Bollenbach is not relevant to the issue here of whether appellant unreasonably contributed to the length and expenses of the proceeding. See Minn. Stat. § 518.14, subd. 1.
Appellant argues in his reply brief that this court must reverse the attorney-fee award to respondent because she filed no motion requesting attorney or witness fees, as District Court Rule of Practice 119 requires. Issues first raised in a reply brief are not properly before this court, and we will not consider them. See Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 128.02, subd. 3 (providing that “reply brief must be confined to new matter raised in the brief of the respondent”); Berg v. State, 557 N.W.2d 593, 596 (Minn. App. 1996) (granting state’s motion to strike that portion of reply brief that was not raised in main brief and that exceeded scope of state’s brief).
VII. Remaining issues
Appellant also challenges “all pretrial orders and adverse evidentiary rulings at trial.” But he provides no citation to legal authority or legal analysis in support of his appeal of a specific pretrial order or adverse evidentiary ruling. See Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 128.02, subd. 1(d) (providing that brief must be accompanied by citations to relevant legal authority and legal analysis). We will not address arguments not supported by legal authority or by legal analysis. Stephens, 614 N.W.2d at 771 n.4 (declining to address claims unsupported by legal analysis).