This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).







In re Shirley A. Bramstedt, petitioner,





Dennis M. Bramstedt,



Filed December 30, 2003

Reversed and remanded

Hudson, Judge


Dodge County District Court

File No. F2-89-457


Thomas J. Kraus, Kraus Law Offices, 1601 South State Street, P.O. Box 410, Waseca, Minnesota 56093 (for respondent)


Paul V. Sween, Sarah L. Nelsen, Adams, Rizzi & Sween, P.A., 300 First Street Northwest, Austin, Minnesota 55912 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge; Peterson, Judge; and Hudson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


On appeal from the district court’s denial of appellant’s motion to modify maintenance, appellant argues the district court erred in finding that appellant’s income had not substantially decreased, making his current maintenance payments unreasonable and unfair.  Because the district court did not make sufficient findings we reverse and remand.


Appellant Dennis Bramstedt and respondent Shirley Bramstedt dissolved their 33-year marriage on November 26, 1991.  The final judgment ordered appellant to pay respondent $1,400 per month for permanent spousal maintenance, which was later amended to $1,100 per month.  The original maintenance award was based on appellant’s income from his employment at A.J. Lysne Contracting Corporation (A.J. Lysne) and his farm rental income, compared to respondent’s income from her part-time job and her farm rental income. 

In January 2002 appellant retired from A.J. Lysne.  As a result of his retirement, appellant moved for a reduction in his maintenance payments.  The district court found that appellant’s decision to retire from his employment was made in good faith and not solely for the purpose of altering or terminating appellant’s maintenance requirement.  Further, the district court found that appellant currently receives $1,473 a month from social security and $9,000 per year from farm rental income.  The district court also noted that appellant has a pension from A.J. Lysne, and that appellant’s wife earns $19,000 per year.  Appellant claimed living expenses in the amount of $3,075, but the district court found this calculation was unreasonable. 

The district court found that respondent currently earns approximately $400 a month in net income from part-time work.  Further, respondent is also eligible to receive $433 a month in social security, and the initial dissolution awarded respondent income from the farm property.  Respondent claimed that her monthly expenses totaled $2,923, but the district court found this amount to be unreasonable. 

            On December 3, 2002, the district court issued an order denying both appellant’s motion to modify his permanent maintenance obligation and respondent’s cross-motion for a cost-of-living adjustment, concluding that neither party showed a substantial increase or decrease in earnings making the terms of the original judgment unreasonable and unfair as required under Minn. Stat. § 518.64, subd. 2 (2002).  This appeal follows.


Appellant contends that the district court abused its discretion by denying his motion to modify his permanent maintenance obligation.  A decision to modify maintenance is discretionary with the district court and requires the moving party to show both substantially changed circumstances and that the change makes the existing award unreasonable and unfair.  Minn. Stat. § 518.64, subd. 2(a) (2002).  On appeal from a district court’s decision addressing a modification motion, an appellate court reviews the district court’s decision for an abuse of discretion.  Dobrin v. Dobrin, 569 N.W.2d 199, 202 (Minn. 1997).  An abuse of discretion occurs when the district court resolves the matter in a manner that is “against logic and the facts on [the] record.”  Rutten v. Rutten, 347 N.W.2d 47, 50 (Minn. 1984).  On a motion for modification of maintenance the court must apply, in addition to all other relevant factors, the factors listed in Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 2 (2002), that exist at the time of the motion.  Minn. Stat. § 518.64, subd. 2(c).  The equation for determining the amount of maintenance is essentially the recipient’s need balanced against the obligor’s financial condition.  Erlandson v. Erlandson, 318 N.W.2d 36, 39-40 (Minn. 1982).

To determine whether appellant or respondent had a significant change in their income so as to render it unreasonable and unfair to continue appellant’s maintenance payments, this court reviews the district court’s findings of the parties’ reasonable expenses and current income.  See Stich v. Stich, 435 N.W.2d 52, 52-53 (Minn. 1989); Minn. Stat. § 518.64, subd. 2(c).

But here, the district court’s findings failed to clearly calculate either respondent’s or appellant’s income.  Instead, the district court merely rendered a list of possible income sources for both parties, never clearly calculating the current income for either party. 

In addition, the district court did not make conclusive findings of either appellant’s or respondent’s reasonable monthly expenses.  Rather, the district court stated “[r]espondent claims living expenses in the amount of $3,075.00” and “[p]etitioner claims monthly expenses of $2,923.00,” but acknowledged that it found neither appellant’s nor respondent’s calculations reasonable.  In Dean v. Pelton, 437 N.W.2d 762, 764 (Minn. App. 1989), we explained that when the district court prefaces its findings with “petitioner claims” or “respondent asserts,” it is not making true findings, but merely reciting the parties’ claims.

Effective appellate review is possible only when the district court has issued sufficiently detailed findings of fact.  Stich, 435 N.W.2d at 53.  Thus, on the record before us, effective review is not possible.  Therefore, we remand this case for the district court to make clear findings identifying the parties’ incomes and reasonable monthly expenses.

Reversed and remanded.