This opinion will be unpublished and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:
Joseph T. Pults, petitioner,
Sharon L. Pults,
Filed May 4, 2004
Washington County District Court
File No. F6-02-2792
John M. Mulligan, Mulligan & Bjornnes PLLP, 401 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403-3292 (for respondent)
Ronald Resnik, 6200 Shingle Creek Parkway, Suite 340, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Halbrooks, Judge.
Appellant Sharon L. Pults challenges the district court’s determination that she is not entitled to permanent spousal maintenance following the dissolution of her marriage to respondent Joseph T. Pults. Appellant argues that the district court’s findings of fact are not supported by the record and that the court’s conclusions of law are not supported by its findings. We affirm.
The parties’ 1976 marriage was dissolved by judgment and decree entered following a half-day trial in June 2003. At the time of the dissolution, appellant was 56 and respondent was 59. The only issue for resolution before the district court was whether appellant is entitled to spousal maintenance. At trial, both parties testified to their monthly budgets, employability, and available assets.
In its order, the court found that respondent’s sole source of income is a taxable net monthly distribution of approximately $3,500 from his lump-sum retirement account and that his reasonable monthly expenses total approximately $2,600. It is undisputed that the value of the retirement account declines with each monthly payment and that the account will be depleted at some point after ten years have passed. The court found that the value of respondent’s retirement account is $498,000, of which approximately $142,000 is nonmarital property – having been earned before the parties married – and approximately $356,000 is marital property. The court divided the marital portion of the retirement account, awarding approximately $283,000 to respondent and $73,000 to appellant. The court found that appellant’s average net monthly income from her job as a Title One Assistant at the Forest Lake Independent School District is approximately $800 and her monthly expenses total approximately $1,600.
Based on the stipulated division of marital assets, the court determined that the value of the marital property awarded to respondent is approximately $283,000, consisting entirely of his share of the marital portion of the lump-sum retirement account. The court awarded appellant marital property with a value of approximately $257,000. The total value of the assets awarded appellant by the decree is approximately $266,000. The court found the division of property – including the fact that respondent’s portion is approximately $17,000 more than appellant’s – “fair and equitable, particularly in light of the fact that [respondent’s monthly retirement disbursements] . . . are entirely subject to taxation . . . [while] the parties’ homestead [awarded to appellant] . . . can be liquidated without any income tax consequences whatsoever.”
The district court found that appellant is employed and will receive sufficient marital property to provide for her reasonable needs and adequate support. After considering these findings in light of the spousal-maintenance factors set forth in Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 2 (2002), the court concluded that appellant was not entitled to spousal maintenance. The court also observed that, even were an award of maintenance warranted, Minnesota law prohibits requiring a party to pay spousal maintenance out of marital property awarded as part of the equitable division of marital assets. Because the court had already treated respondent’s lump-sum retirement account – his only source of income – as marital property subject to division, it concluded that it could not consider respondent’s disbursements from the retirement account as “income” for the purpose of awarding appellant maintenance. This appeal follows.
A court may grant a maintenance order for either spouse if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance lacks sufficient resources to meet his or her needs or is unable to provide adequate self-support. Minn. Stat. § 518.552 (2002) (enumerating factors that must be considered and setting standards governing the amount and duration of the award, temporary or permanent).
The district court has broad discretion in determining the amount of maintenance. Rutten v. Rutten, 347 N.W.2d 47, 50 (Minn. 1984). For us to conclude that the district court abused that discretion, the court’s findings of fact must be “against logic and the facts on [the] record.” Id. “If there is reasonable evidence to support the district court’s findings, we will not disturb them.” Rogers v. Moore, 603 N.W.2d 650, 656 (Minn. 1999).
Appellant contends generally that the evidence presented at trial does not support the district court’s findings of fact and that those findings do not support the court’s conclusions of law. She first argues that the court erred by concluding that respondent’s retirement fund, having been designated and divided as marital property without her objection, could not also be considered income for the purpose of establishing respondent’s maintenance obligation. In Walker v. Walker, 553 N.W.2d 90, 94 (Minn. App. 1996), we considered and rejected this argument, holding that “[p]ension benefits awarded as property in a dissolution cannot be included in the income of a party when determining that party’s maintenance obligation.” See also Kruschel v. Kruschel, 419 N.W.2d 119, 122 (Minn. App. 1988) (noting that in a dissolution proceeding, a party’s “pension should be viewed as property or income, but not both”). Moreover, a district court cannot order an obligor to pay maintenance out of his pension payments until he “receive[s] from the pension an amount equivalent to its value as determined in the original property distribution.” Id. at 123. Here, once respondent receives from the pension an amount equivalent to its value as determined in the original property distribution, the fund will be depleted.
Appellant also argues that the district court abused its discretion by not questioning the reasonableness or credibility of various monthly expenses claimed by respondent. We defer to the district court’s decisions concerning the weight and credibility of evidence presented at trial. Sefkow v. Sefkow, 427 N.W.2d 203, 210 (Minn. 1988).
Finally, appellant argues that the district court erred by concluding that maintenance is not warranted here because the record contains evidence that (1) her current monthly expenses exceed her current net monthly salary; (2) she is unable to earn more at her present job than she currently does; and (3) she cannot afford approximately $375 a month for medical insurance. We disagree. Because of the disparity between appellant’s income and her expenses, the record demonstrates that appellant is entitled to receive gross monthly disbursements of approximately $1,100 from her share of respondent’s retirement account.
In analyzing the sufficiency of appellant’s current income, the court found that appellant’s current salary is sufficient, when considered in the context of the property distribution and appellant’s own retirement funds, to provide for her reasonable needs. See Abuzzahab v. Abuzzahab, 359 N.W.2d 12, 14 (Minn. 1984) (holding wife was not entitled to permanent spousal maintenance, since she was capable of attaining a degree of self-sufficiency through employment and, under the distribution of marital property, she had sufficient property to provide for her reasonable needs). This finding is supported by the record.
Appellant also challenges the district court’s determination regarding medical insurance. At trial appellant testified that she was denied low-cost coverage – $30 monthly premiums – through MinnesotaCare because her gross monthly income, including the $1,000 monthly temporary maintenance she was receiving from appellant until the trial, exceeded the maximum monthly MinnesotaCare eligibility income of approximately $1,100. Without the temporary maintenance, she will be eligible for the MinnesotaCare insurance. The district court’s findings concerning the parties’ resources are supported by the record and those findings support the court’s conclusion that appellant is not entitled to permanent spousal maintenance.