This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. ß 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In re the Marriage of:
Robin Campbell Machen,
n/k/a Robin Campbell, petitioner,
James Alan Machen,
Filed February 25, 2003
Hennepin County District Court
File No. DC213392
Andrew V. Moran, Moran Law Office, 1305 Berry Ridge Road, Eagan, MN† 55123 (for respondent)
Colette A. Medas-Forbes, Medas-Forbes Law Firm, 7415 Wayzata Boulevard, Suite 108, Minneapolis, MN† 55426† (for appellant)
††††††††††† Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Stoneburner, Judge.
††††††††††† Appellant James Alan Machen challenges a district court order awarding more than $90,000 to respondent Robin Campbell for past-due child support, spousal maintenance, unreimbursed medical expenses, and other amounts he was obligated to pay under the terms of the partiesí 1997 dissolution judgment, which was based on a stipulation.† On appeal, Machen argues that the district court erred in ruling that:† (1) he was in arrears for child support, spousal maintenance, and additional medical expenses without making findings regarding his income or indicating a time frame for the arrearages; (2) he owed an additional amount based on his tax returns for 1994 and 1995, arguing that the issue was decided in a previous order and thus barred by res judicata; and (3) he was in contempt and subject to sequestration, without making findings as to his ability to pay and his reasons for not paying support.
††††††††††† Because (1) the district courtís findings are not clearly erroneous and are supported by the evidence; (2) res judicata does not bar Campbellís claim for additional support under the terms of the 1997 judgment; and (3) the court did not hold Machen in contempt but properly exercised its discretion by ordering him to secure his judgments for arrearages and ongoing obligations by posting a bond or by forcing the sale of his homestead, we affirm.
††††††††††† † Courts favor stipulations in divorce cases as a means of simplifying and expediting litigation, and these agreements are accorded the sanctity of binding contracts.† Shirk v. Shirk, 561 N.W.2d 519, 521 (Minn. 1997).† This court will not set aside a district courtís findings of fact regarding enforcement of a stipulation unless those findings are clearly erroneous.† Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01.† Findings are clearly erroneous only if this court, on the entire record, is left with the ďdefinite and firm conviction that a mistake was made.Ē† Vangsness v. Vangsness, 607 N.W.2d 468, 474 (Minn. App. 2000).
††††††††††† Machen challenges the district courtís findings regarding his past-due child support and spousal maintenance obligations.† The court found that through April 30, 2002, Machen was in arrears $16,744.92 for child support and $27,851.80 for spousal maintenance.† These figures are based on Campbellís uncontradicted affidavit and supporting documentation.† Machen criticizes the courtís failure to make findings on his income and ability to pay, given that his company is in bankruptcy.† Machen insists that Campbellís motion should have been stayed until his later-filed motion to modify maintenance and support was heard.
††††††††††† However, absent findings on certain statutory factors, Machenís modification motion can only be made retroactive to the date of its service, May 8, 2002.† See Minn. Stat. ß 518.64, subd. 2(d) (2002).† Because these arrearages accrued prior to April 30, 2002, findings regarding Machenís current income and ability to pay are irrelevant to his past-due obligations under the 1997 judgment.† More importantly, the parties specifically waived any right to modify spousal maintenance and expressly incorporated a Karon waiver into their stipulation, which divested the district court of jurisdiction to consider any motions to modify maintenance.† See Karon v. Karon, 435 N.W.2d 501, 503 (Minn. 1989).† We therefore conclude that the district courtís findings regarding child support and spousal maintenance arrearages are based on the record and not clearly erroneous.
††††††††††† Machen also challenges the district courtís findings regarding the amount owed for unreimbursed medical and dental expenses.† The court found that Machen failed to pay his portion of the childrenís unreimbursed medical and dental expenses between August 2001 and March 2002, totaling $4,184.54, and that Campbell provided documentation of these expenses to the court.† Machen insists that the court erred by failing to state the dates the expenses were incurred and to make findings detailing each unreimbursed medical expense.† The courtís findings are based on the amounts claimed by Campbell in her affidavit, which she supported with documentation that included receipts.† Because Machen makes no specific challenges to Campbellís affidavit or documentation, we cannot conclude that the district court clearly erred in its findings relating to the amounts owed by Machen for his share of the childrenís unreimbursed medical and dental expenses.
††††††††††† Machen challenges the district courtís finding that additional amounts are owed under a provision of the 1997 judgment that provided for modification of spousal maintenance based on his actual tax liability for 1994 and 1995.† He argues that this issue was decided in a prior hearing before another district court judge and that the doctrine of res judicata now precludes relitigation or reconsideration of the issue.† Campbellís claim for additional maintenance under this provision, however, has never been decided or litigated and therefore res judicata does not apply.† Campbell was unable to determine whether Machen owed her any additional amounts under this provision until she was provided with his 1994 and 1995 tax returns in January 2002.† The district court therefore did not clearly err in finding that judgment should be entered against Machen in the amount of $41,283.50 for additional spousal maintenance and accrued interest.
††††††††††† Machen argues that security for maintenance and support is unwarranted because his motion to modify maintenance and support has not yet been heard and because he has satisfied his obligations under the 1997 judgment.† Absent certain findings of fact, Machenís modification motion does not affect Campbellís motion to enforce Machenís obligations to pay amounts owed prior to May 8, 2002, the date he served his motion for modification.
††††††††††† Machen further argues that the court inappropriately held him in ďcontemptĒ for failure to provide security without following the proper procedures.† However, this is not a contempt proceeding and the court did not find Machen in contempt.† Rather, the court ordered that if Machen did not post a bond, his homestead would be sold and the proceeds held as security for payment of his past-due and ongoing child support and maintenance obligations.
††††††††††† Minn. Stat. ß 518.24 (2002) authorizes a court to require that sufficient security be given to insure payment of maintenance or support obligations.† If the required security is not given or if maintenance or support payments are not made, then the court may sequester the obligorís personal estate and appoint a receiver.† Id.† This court will review the subject of security ďas almost wholly within the trial courtís discretion.Ē† Zagar v. Zagar, 396 N.W.2d 98, 102 (Minn. App. 1986).
††††††††††† Here, the district court found that Machen owes arrearages totaling more than $90,000.† The district court further found that Machen remains liable for non-modifiable, ongoing spousal maintenance payments of $162,000 and that his projected child support payments will total more than $94,000.† Despite these substantial arrearages, the evidence established that Machen continues to reside in a $1 million home, with equity in that home of approximately $300,000.† Given Machenís history of defaulting on his obligations, we cannot conclude that the district court abused its discretion in ordering the homestead sold if Machen fails to post a bond to secure payment of his maintenance and child support obligations.
††††††††††† We therefore affirm the district courtís order in its entirety.