This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. ß 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In re Delyne Helen Mattison,
Gerry Lee Mattison,
Red Lake County District Court
File No. F2-02-31
Michael L. Jorgenson, Charlson & Jorgenson, P.A., 119 West Second Street, P.O. Box 506, Thief River Falls, MN 56701 (for respondent)
Delray Sparby, Ihle & Sparby, P.A., 312 North Main Avenue, P.O. Box 574, Thief River Falls, MN 56701 (for appellant)
††††††††††† Considered and decided by Shumaker, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Minge, Judge.
††††††††††† Appellant husband and respondent wife each challenge the district courtís dissolution judgment on several grounds, including its findings of fact and its valuation and distribution of the partiesí marital assets.† Because the courtís findings and valuations are not clearly erroneous and because the court did not abuse its discretion in dividing the marital property, we affirm.††††
Appellant Gerry Lee Mattison and respondent Delyne Helen Mattison married in 1991.† Their marriage was dissolved on December 23, 2002.† Both parties moved for amended findings and/or a new trial, and on May 5, 2003, the district court made amended findings.† Both parties appeal the amended judgment.
Appellant and respondent have engaged in an exhaustive appeal, claiming error with numerous aspects of the district courtís order.† At the outset, we note that the parties created an extensive record and that the district court issued very detailed findings.† We further note that many of the issues now on appeal were presented to the district court in motions for amended findings.† Therefore, the district court had an occasion to consider the evidence and arguments and correct any alleged errors.† We have conducted a painstaking review of the record and the partiesí claims and find that the record supports the district courtís judgment.† See Wilson v. Moline, 234 Minn. 174, 182, 47 N.W.2d 865, 870 (1951) (stating appellate court need not ďdiscuss and review in detail the evidence for the purpose of demonstrating that it supports the trial courtís findings,Ē and that its ďduty is performed when [it] consider[s] all the evidence . . . and determine[s] that it reasonably supports the findingsĒ); Vangsness v. Vangsness, 607 N.W.2d 468. 474-75 (Minn. App. 2000) (applying Wilson).† We further find that the judgment is fair to both parties in its overall scope.
Because the record clearly supports the amended judgment and in the interest of judicial economy, we will confine our analysis to certain of the nonmarital property, land ownership, and crop-damage issues and not discuss the particulars of the partiesí other arguments.††
ďWhether property is marital or nonmarital is a question of law, but a reviewing court must defer to the trial courtís underlying findings of facts.Ē† Olsen v. Olsen, 562 N.W.2d 797, 800 (Minn. 1997).† But if this court is ďleft with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made, we may find the trial courtís decision to be clearly erroneous, notwithstanding the existence of evidence to support such findings.Ē† Id. (quotation omitted).††
††††††††††† District courts have broad discretion over the division of marital property, and this court will not alter a district courtís property division absent a clear abuse of discretion or an erroneous application of the law.† Ebnet v. Ebnet, 347 N.W.2d 840, 842 (Minn. App. 1984).† Reviewing courts ďwill affirm the trial courtís division of property if it had an acceptable basis in fact and principle even though [the reviewing court] might have taken a different approach.Ē† Antone v. Antone, 645 N.W.2d 96, 100 (Minn. 2002).† Courts must make a just and equitable division of marital property.† Minn. Stat. ß 518.58, subd. 1 (2002).† But just and equitable does not necessarily mean mathematically equal.† Nazar v. Nazar, 505 N.W.2d 628, 635 (Minn. App. 1993), review denied (Minn. Oct. 28, 1993).
††††††††††† The record supports the courtís nonmarital/marital classification of the partiesí property.† Respondent argues that the district court erred in its conclusion that her injury settlement was marital property.†† The marital or nonmarital characterization of amounts received from personal injury awards depends upon the purpose of recovery and allows for separate treatment of various components of the recovery.† Van De Loo v. Van De Loo, 346 N.W.2d 173, 176 (Minn. App. 1984).† The burden of proving the purpose of the recovery is on the party seeking the nonmarital classification.† Id. at 177.† The standard is preponderance of the evidence.† Ward v. Ward, 453 N.W.2d 729, 732 (Minn. App. 1990), review denied (Minn. June 6, 1990).† Respondent failed to offer any proof as to the nature of the recovery and therefore did not meet her burden.† Absent proof otherwise, the personal injury money is to be treated as marital property.† See Van De Loo, 346 N.W.2d at 177.
††††††††††† Appellant argues that the district court erred in its finding that the parties purchased, rather than rented, the ďNymann land.Ē† But the district courtís finding is not clearly erroneous, as respondent presented evidence that the parties purchased the land.
Respondent claims the district court erred in finding that the appellant had an approximate $69,000 nonmarital interest in the partiesí residence.† The record supports the district courtís findings on the value of the home, the amount of loans on the home, and the characterization of the money used to pay these loans.† Further, we cannot say that the district courtís calculations of appellantís interest based on these findings are incorrect.† Respondent argues that the court erred in classifying the horse JD and a 16 inch saddle as marital property.† But again, the district courtís findings are not clearly erroneous as the record indicates that the horse was registered in both partiesí names after the marriage and that respondent used marital funds to purchase the saddle.†
A district courtís valuation of an item of property is a finding of fact and will not be set aside unless it is clearly erroneous.† Maurer v. Maurer, 623 N.W.2d 604, 606 (Minn. 2001).† An appellate court does not require the district court be exact in its valuation of assets; ďit is only necessary that the value arrived at lies within a reasonable range of figures.Ē† Johnson v. Johnson, 277 N.W.2d 208, 211 (Minn. 1979).
††††††††††† The district courtís valuations of the partiesí property are not clearly erroneous.† Appellant challenges the district courtís valuation of the partiesí ďMitzelĒ property.† Because the parties only presented their own opinions as to the landís value, the court, as finder of fact, had the discretion to adopt the value it found most credible.† See Bury v. Bury, 416 N.W.2d 133, 136 (Minn. App. 1987) (noting parties are presumed competent to testify to the value of their property); see also Sefkow v. Sefkow, 427 N.W.2d 203, 210 (Minn. 1988) (deferring to the district courtís assessment of credibility).† Respondent testified to the landís value and detailed the improvements to the land during the partiesí marriage.† Therefore, the district courtís valuation is not clearly erroneous.
††††††††††† The parties also argue that the district court erred in its valuations of the property it awarded to each party.† Because neither party presented concrete evidence on the values of many of the items in question, the district courtís valuations are not clearly erroneous, as the values it used lie within a reasonable range of values.†
††††††††††† While the values of the property awarded to each party are not mathematically equal, it does not appear the division was unjust or inequitable.† Furthermore, certain specific arguments are unpersuasive.† For example, appellant asserts the district court erred in specifying that he was to receive the first $21,341 from the auction and 50% of amounts in excess of that figure.† Appellant claims that to equalize the property division he should have received more and been protected against poor auction results that would produce less than $21,341.† However, we note that the record supports the courtís finding that appellant sold marital assets during the dissolution.† Therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in limiting appellantís share of the auction and in not requiring respondent to reimburse appellant for any shortcoming from the auction.†
Both parties appeal the district courtís findings and conclusions regarding the partiesí hay crop.† Minn. Stat. ß 518.58, subd. 1a (2002), provides that:
During the pendency of a marriage dissolution [or] separation . . . each party owes a fiduciary duty to the other for any profit or loss derived by the party, without the consent of the other, from a transaction or from any use by the party of the marital assets.† If the court finds that a party . . . without consent of the other party, has . . . transferred, encumbered, concealed, or disposed of marital assets except in the usual course of business or for the necessities of life, the court shall compensate the other party by placing both parties in the same position that they would have been in had [the action] not occurred.
There is evidence in the record to support the district courtís finding that appellant committed intentional waste by spraying the pesticide and destroying the second crop of hay.† Because of appellantís action, the second crop could not be valued; the district court did not then err by looking at crop prices in previous years.
In sum, the district courtís division is based on fact and proper considerations and should not be disturbed.