This opinion will be unpublished and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
In re the Marriage of:
Irene Bernadette Oberstar, petitioner,
John Anthony Oberstar,
Carver County District Court
File No. F2-01-364
Joel A. Seltz, Seltz & Seltz, P.L.L.P., 6601 Lyndale Avenue South, #320, Minneapolis, MN 55423 (for respondent)
William G. Swanson, 6200 Shingle Creek Parkway, Suite 460, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge; Shumaker, Judge; and Minge, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant John Oberstar argues that the district court abused its discretion in dividing the parties’ assets and debts and in awarding respondent Irene Oberstar nonmarital property. We affirm.
District courts have broad discretion over the division of marital property, and appellate courts will not alter a district court’s property division absent a clear abuse of discretion or an erroneous application of the law. Chamberlain v. Chamberlain, 615 N.W.2d 405, 412 (Minn. App. 2000) (clear abuse of discretion), review denied (Minn. Oct. 25, 2000); Ebnet v. Ebnet, 347 N.W.2d 840, 842 (Minn. App. 1984) (misapplication of the law). A district court abuses its discretion if its findings of fact are against logic and the facts on the record. Rutten v. Rutten, 347 N.W.2d 47, 50 (Minn. 1984). A reviewing court will affirm the district court’s property division if it has “an acceptable basis in fact and principle even though [the appellate court] might have taken a different approach.” Antone v. Antone, 645 N.W.2d 96, 100 (Minn. 2002).
Appellant first argues that the district court abused its discretion by requiring him to pay 75% of the $133,000 balance on the parties’ second mortgage. We disagree. District courts have broad discretion in apportioning the parties’ debt. O’Donnell v. O’Donnell, 412 N.W.2d 394, 396 (Minn. App. 1987). Even if the debts are marital, the district court has the discretion to allocate debts solely to one party. Meyer v. Meyer, 375 N.W.2d 820, 824, 828 (Minn. App. 1985), review denied (Minn. Dec. 30, 1985). Further, “a party to a dissolution may be held liable for marital debts even though the other party receives the benefit of payment.” Dahlberg v. Dahlberg, 358 N.W.2d 76, 80 (Minn. App. 1984).
Here, the district court found that several months prior to the commencement of dissolution proceedings and without the knowledge or consent of respondent, appellant withdrew $100,000 from the second mortgage’s line of credit and quickly lost the money in the stock market. The court also found that at the time of the withdrawal, the first mortgage had a balance of approximately $23,000, and the equity in the homestead was the only substantial marital asset of the parties. The district court concluded that appellant’s “transfer, encumbrance, and disposition of approximately $100,000 of equity in the homestead was without justification and equity requires that an adjustment be made in the final distribution of marital assets.”
Appellant contends that the district court abused its discretion in apportioning the second mortgage debt because he used the money he withdrew from the mortgage’s line of credit for the betterment of the entire family, and he “had no idea” that a divorce was imminent. When making a just and equitable distribution of marital property or debt, the district court must consider many factors, including the contribution of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation, or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property. Minn. Stat. § 518.58, subd. 1(2002).
We cannot say that the district court’s findings are against logic or the facts on the record. Indeed, the record shows that appellant chose to encumber the homestead, the parties’ most valuable marital asset, rather than invade other assets, including his own nonmarital assets.
Appellant also contends that the district court abused its discretion in apportioning the debt because respondent withdrew $50,000 from the second mortgage’s line of credit in contemplation of dissolution proceedings in violation of Minn. Stat. § 518.58, subd. 1a. But the record indicates that the district court ordered respondent to pay back the money minus certain expenses, and that she complied with the court’s order. Therefore, we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion in apportioning 75% of the second mortgage debt to appellant and 25% to respondent.
Appellant claims that the district court erred by failing to make a valuation when it awarded the household goods, which appellant claims are worth $20,000 and respondent claims are worth $5,000. We disagree. The district court acted within its discretion because in making a just and equitable division of marital property, “[t]he court may also award to either spouse the household goods and furniture of the parties, whether or not acquired during the marriage.” Minn. Stat. § 518.58, subd. 1.
Appellant challenges the district court’s order requiring that the real estate taxes be paid out of the gross proceeds of the sale of the parties’ homestead, claiming that respondent was required to pay the taxes in an earlier order. But the temporary order only required respondent to “pay the first half of the 2001 real estate taxes from the retained proceeds from the line of credit.” Thus, the district court did not abuse its discretion in ordering the payment of the remaining real estate taxes out of the gross proceeds instead of requiring respondent to pay them out of her share of the net proceeds.
A district court can award up to one-half of a spouse’s nonmarital property to the other spouse if it finds undue hardship based on all relevant factors, including the length of the marriage, the health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities, needs and opportunity for future acquisition of capital assets and income of each party. Minn. Stat. § 518.58, subd. 2 (2002). Awards of nonmarital property are within the discretion of the district court. Rutten, 347 N.W.2d at 50. But “[a] very severe disparity between the parties is required to sustain a finding of unfair hardship necessary to apportion nonmarital property.” Ward v. Ward, 453 N.W.2d 729, 733 (Minn. App. 1990), review denied (Minn. June 6, 1990).
Appellant argues that the district court abused its discretion by awarding respondent one-half, or $34,158, of a Charles Schwab account, because it failed to find that undue hardship existed. We disagree. The district court found, and the parties do not dispute, that the account is nonmarital property because it was derived from an inheritance appellant received from his parents. See Minn. Stat. § 518.54, subd. 5(a) (2002) (nonmarital property includes property that is acquired by gift, bequest, devise or inheritance made by a third party to one but not the other spouse). The district court concluded that it was just and equitable to award 50% of the account to respondent based on all the facts and circumstances, including the length of marriage, the age, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, needs and opportunity for future acquisition of assets and income of each party, as well as appellant’s actions in dissipating family funds. Specifically, the court found that appellant was employed at Split Rock Energy, LLC and earned approximately $88,000 per year (although the record indicates he has since been terminated from that position). And the court found that respondent has a high school education, last worked full time approximately 14 years ago, currently worked part time as a teacher’s aide in the Minnetonka school district, and earned approximately $16,000 per year.
On these facts, we cannot say that the district court abused its discretion. The record indicates that appellant has substantially greater earning potential than respondent, even if respondent supplements her income with summer employment. Appellant contends that respondent is capable of full-time employment, implying that she should quit her current position and seek other employment. But the district court credited an employment assessment report that determined that (1) respondent’s office skills were obsolete; (2) respondent’s position was a “good match” to her vocational interests; and (3) her wage was “very good” considering her level of education, work experience, and current labor market. Thus the district court acted within its discretion in awarding respondent one-half of appellant’s nonmarital Schwab account.
Appellant also argues that the district court erred in awarding appellant a 1992 Buick LaSabre. We disagree. The parties disagree whether the vehicle is nonmarital property, and the district court did not make a specific finding. Whether property is marital or nonmarital is a question of law, but a reviewing court defers to the district court’s underlying findings of fact unless they are clearly erroneous. Olsen v. Olsen, 562 N.W.2d 797, 800 (Minn. 1997). All property obtained during the marriage by either spouse is presumed marital, regardless of the form of ownership. Minn. Stat. § 518.54, subd. 5 (2002). A party challenging the presumption that property is marital must demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that the property is nonmarital. Olsen, 562 N.W.2d at 800. But property that is acquired by gift, bequest, devise or inheritance made by a third party to one but not the other spouse is generally considered nonmarital. Minn. Stat. § 518.54, subd. 5(a). And an award of vehicles must be upheld if it is just and equitable. Doering v. Doering, 385 N.W.2d 387, 391 (Minn. App. 1986).
Appellant argues that the 1992 Buick LaSabre was nonmarital property because he inherited it from a trust created by his parents. But appellant waived this argument by failing to raise it in his posttrial motion for amended findings of fact, conclusions of law, or alternatively, a new trial. See Thiele v. Stich, 425 N.W.2d 580, 582 (Minn. 1988) (concluding that only issues presented to and considered by the district court will be reviewed). And even if appellant had not waived the argument, we would conclude that the award of the vehicle to respondent was not an abuse of discretion. Respondent has driven the Buick for six years and has paid for the vehicle’s maintenance and repair during that time. In addition, appellant was awarded respondent’s one-half interest in the 1992 Pontiac Bonneville, which the parties agree is marital property. And even by appellant’s estimate, the Buick is worth at most $4,000. We conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding the Buick to respondent.
Finally, we reject appellant’s argument that respondent received more than one-half of his nonmarital property in violation of Minn. Stat. § 518.58, subd. 2. Appellant fails to acknowledge that the record indicates he was awarded significant additional nonmarital property including a Honda Gold Wing motorcycle, silverware, ceramic items, a piano, and bedroom and dining room furniture.