This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Mark Irvin Hummer, petitioner,
Lori Kathleen Farley,
f/k/a Lori Kathleen Hummer,
Filed April 8, 2003
Blue Earth County District Court
File No. F5951589
Michael H. Kennedy, Kennedy & Kennedy, Suite 104, 99 Navaho Avenue, Mankato, MN 56001 (for respondent)
David F. Frundt, Frundt & Johnson, Ltd., 117 West Fifth Street, Blue Earth, MN 56013 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Stoneburner, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
In this appeal from an amended marital-dissolution judgment, Lori Farley contends the district court abused its discretion by modifying the judgment after expiration of the appeal period and by incorrectly calculating the value of her interest in the marital home. Because the district court’s order was necessary to implement the original judgment and because the evidence provided a reasonable basis for the district court’s valuation and division of the marital home, we affirm.
F A C T S
Lori Farley and Mark Hummer’s 1995 dissolution judgment provided that their marital home would be retained in joint tenancy until sold, Hummer would live in the home, the parties’ debts would be paid from the sale profits, and any remaining profits would be split equally between them. Farley and Hummer had previously agreed to all of these provisions in a marital-termination agreement, and the district court incorporated the agreement into the judgment. The stipulation and the judgment did not specify which party would initiate or administer the sale provision, or a time limit for selling the home.
Hummer did not list the home for sale after the dissolution judgment was entered. In January 2002 Farley brought a motion to compel Hummer to sell the home or, in the alternative, to award her a lien equal to fifty percent of the home’s current market value. In response to Farley’s motion, Hummer brought a countermotion requesting attorneys’ fees and asserting that Farley’s share of the joint bills, together with obligations paid by Hummer on her behalf, satisfied any interest Farley had in the property.
The district court denied Farley’s motion to compel the sale of the home but reserved her motion to place a lien on it. The court concluded that Hummer owed Farley $1,977 for her share of equity in the home on the dissolution date and that upon payment of this amount Farley must execute a quit-claim deed divesting herself of any interest in the home. The district court amended the dissolution judgment to reflect this conclusion and entered the amended judgment, from which Farley now appeals.
A property division in a dissolution action is final and cannot be revoked or modified unless the standards that justify reopening a judgment exist. Minn. Stat. § 518.64, subd. 2(e) (2002). But a district court may issue orders to implement, enforce, or clarify the provisions of a judgment, so long as it does not alter either party’s substantive rights. Kornberg v. Kornberg, 542 N.W.2d 379, 388 (Minn. 1996).
Farley argues that the district court abused its discretion by amending the real property division in the original dissolution judgment without finding that the circumstances justified reopening. We reject this argument for two reasons. First, the district court’s order was necessary to implement and enforce the original judgment because the judgment did not provide for a timeline for sale of the marital home, a process for the sale, or a procedure for crediting debt payment and dividing any remaining proceeds. Second, Farley, by bringing the motion for enforcement, tacitly acknowledged the defects in the judgment that impeded enforcement.
The district court had discretion to implement the provisions of the dissolution by amending the judgment. Linder v. Linder, 391 N.W.2d 5, 8 (Minn. App. 1986). The amended judgment did not change or modify the substantive rights of Hummer or Farley that were provided in the terms of the original dissolution judgment. Farley and Hummer are each receiving half of the profits remaining after the agreed-on deductions. This division does not substantively differ from the division they would have received if Hummer had sold the house, as required under the original judgment.
Farley argues in the alternative that, even if the district court had the power to amend the judgment, the court erred in valuing the home and in determining the amount Farley should receive. In a dissolution action the district court has broad discretion in making and implementing divisions of marital property and will not be overturned absent a clear abuse of discretion. Bogen v. Bogen, 261 N.W.2d 606, 609 (Minn. 1977). Valuation of an asset is a finding of fact, which is “necessarily an approximation in many cases.” Maurer v. Maurer, 623 N.W.2d 604, 606 (Minn. 2001) (quotation omitted). Accordingly, the value arrived at by the district court need only fall “within a reasonable range of figures.” Id. (quotation omitted). Reversal is required only when the district court’s findings are erroneous based on the record as a whole. Johnson v. Johnson, 277 N.W.2d 208, 211 (Minn. 1979).
Farley contends that the property division of the marital-home value is flawed in four ways: (1) the determination of the base value; (2) the finding that Hummer, rather than Farley, made the down payment; (3) the amount of debts attributed to Farley; and (4) the deduction of the $1,500 down payment twice.
The record contains sufficient evidence to support the district court’s finding that the value of the marital home at the time of the dissolution was $45,000. The evidence shows that Hummer purchased the home for $32,500 the year preceding the marriage. When Hummer and Farley ended their two-year marriage they stipulated in the marital termination agreement that the home was worth $45,000. Although real-estate-tax records from 1995 and 1996 show an estimated value of $55,400, Hummer and Farley acknowledged that the home was in poor condition when it was purchased and that there were no major improvements to the home during the marriage. No evidence refuted the poor condition of the home at the time of dissolution other than Farley’s contention that the home was “livable.” In light of the $32,500 purchase price, the poor condition of the home, and Farley and Hummer’s estimated value of the home at $45,000 in their marital termination agreement, it was not clear error for the district court to find that the home was worth $45,000 at the time of the dissolution.
The record also supports the conclusion that Hummer made the down payment on the marital home. Farley submitted an affidavit in which she claimed that she made the $1,500 down payment on the home. Hummer submitted a contrary affidavit in which he claimed that he made the down payment by obtaining a loan for $2,500. The district court concluded that Hummer made the down payment because the loan amount owed to 1st Bank of Mapleton supported Hummer’s assertion that he took out a loan for the down payment. Based on the limited evidence in the record, the district court’s finding that Hummer made the down payment on the marital home was not manifestly contrary to the weight of the evidence.
Under the original judgment, both parties were required to pay their own bills incurred after their separation. Hummer stated in his affidavit that he paid a number of Farley’s bills after their separation, including bills incurred for substance-abuse treatment and long-distance telephone calls. Farley failed to offer any proof to support her assertion that she did not incur these bills. Judging the credibility of witnesses and assessing the weight to be given to their testimony rests within the province of the fact-finder. Fontaine v. Hoffman, 359 N.W.2d 692, 694 (Minn. App. 1984). It was not clear error for the district court to credit Hummer for $1,500 paid toward Farley’s personal bills after the parties separated.
Finally, Farley argues that the final division is not accurate because the district court deducted the down payment amount of $1,500 twice. The district court found that Hummer and Farley had equity of approximately $14,900 in their home as well as joint debts at the time of the dissolution. The court found that Hummer paid the debts in the amount of $7,365 and that the $1,500 down payment was a joint debt because it increased the equity in the home. The district court deducted $8,865 from the equity in the home, leaving $6,035 to be split between Hummer and Farley. From Farley’s $3,017.50 share, the court deducted the $1,500 amount that Hummer had expended for Farley’s debts. To the remaining amount of approximately $1,500, the court added $477 in interest, bringing the total to $1,977. The record shows that the down payment amount was not deducted twice. Hummer’s affidavit clearly lists the amount of money he paid toward the couple’s joint debts, which totaled approximately $7,365. The $1,500 down payment was not included in the joint debts Hummer listed, and it was subtracted separately from the equity amount in the home.
In an affidavit submitted in support of her motion, Farley alleged that she was under duress at the time she signed the dissolution stipulation. Duress may provide a basis for reopening a judgment. Hestekin v. Hestekin, 587 N.W.2d 308, 310 (Minn. App. 1998). But Farley did not move to reopen the judgment; instead, she moved to enforce it. Furthermore, the evidence does not demonstrate that the division of the parties’ one asset—the marital home—was inequitable. The judge’s detailed calculation properly balanced the marital debts and the marital asset.
Farley contends that it is unfair for Hummer to receive title to the home because it has increased in value “approximately 150%” from its value at the time of the dissolution. But Hummer is arguably in no better position now than if he had sold the marital home in 1995 and purchased a new home. His new home would have appreciated in value since 1995; therefore any appreciation in the marital home due to market forces should not be considered a windfall to him. In addition, the record shows that Hummer made substantial improvements to the home at his own expense after the dissolution. Hummer is entitled to any appreciation in the home resulting from these improvements.