This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. ß 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Kim Teresa Pattinson, petitioner,
Daniel Keller Pattinson,
Filed ≠≠≠June 7, 2005
Reversed and remanded; motion denied
Anoka County District Court
File No. F6-95-11276
Jennifer R. Wellner, Wellner & Isaacson, PLLP, Glen Oaks Center, 2E South Pine Drive, Circle Pines, MN 55014 (for appellant)
Thomas R. Hughes, Hughes & Costello, 1230 Landmark Towers, 345 St. Peter Street, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent)
††††††††††† Considered and decided by Dietzen, Presiding Judge; Toussaint, Chief Judge; and Shumaker, Judge.
††††††††††† In this post-dissolution proceeding, appellant argues that the district court abused its discretion by reducing to $0 respondentís maintenance obligation.† Because the district court failed to make adequate findings, we reverse and remand.† We also deny appellantís motion to strike.
††††††††††† Appellant Kim Theresa Pattinson and respondent Daniel Keller Pattinson were married in 1984, had two children, and dissolved the marriage in 1996.
††††††††††† Respondent works as a carpet installer.† From 1993 through early 1997, he owned and operated Carpet Concepts, Inc., a company that sold and installed carpeting.† The company dissolved shortly after the dissolution proceeding at which time respondent returned to work full time for a carpet installation company.† Appellant does not have a high school diploma and worked at low-paying positions throughout the marriage.† She was a homemaker until 1991 and then started working part time selling pull-tabs.† In 1993, she became employed part time at Minnesota Plastics making $9 an hour for four hours a week.† At the time of the dissolution, she worked nearly full time at the rate of $9.25 an hour.† Her monthly income was $961.02 and her reasonable living expenses for herself and the children were $2,960.28.† Respondentís net income was $2,570 and his living expenses were $1,363.
††††††††††† In 1997, the district court dissolved the partiesí marriage, awarded appellant custody of the partiesí minor children, and determined the amount of respondentís child support obligation.† Also, the court divided the property and awarded appellant $600 per month in permanent spousal maintenance.† This court affirmed the 1997 amended judgment.† Pattinson v. Pattinson, No. C0-97-458 (Minn. App. Oct. 14, 1997).† The judgment stated that either party could seek review of the spousal maintenance award in five years.
††††††††††† In March 2002, respondent moved to terminate
spousal maintenance, which had increased through cost-of-living adjustments to
$720 per month.† Respondent based his
motion on the improvement in appellantís circumstances.† After a hearing on respondentís motion, the
district court terminated spousal maintenance.†
The district court, in ruling that appellantís circumstances had
significantly and substantially improved, found that appellant: (1) earned a
monthly net income of $1,731.36, an increase of 80%; (2) had monthly expenses
for herself and the children of $3,678.44; and (3) enjoyed many benefits that
she did not have at the time of the dissolution decree, including medical
insurance, dental coverage, a 401(k) plan, long-term disability insurance and
personal leave time.† The district court
also found that the value of respondentís carpeting business was inflated in
the dissolution decree, resulting in a disproportionate distribution of assets
and an inflated standard of living in favor of appellant.† This court reversed, concluding that the district
court abused its discretion by making new findings regarding the value of
respondentís business.† We remanded to
the district court to reconsider the merits of respondentís motion and to
render a decision based only upon those factors that are appropriately
considered in deciding whether and to what extent maintenance should be
modified.† Pattinson v. Pattinson,
††††††††††† Following our remand, appellant moved the district court to require respondent to show cause why an order should not be entered denying respondentís motion to terminate spousal maintenance.† Subsequently, respondent filed a motion to reduce his spousal maintenance obligation to $0.† Respondent also filed with the district court a letter dated April 22, 2004 and an affidavit dated April 21, 2004 setting forth his financial information in support of the motion.
††††††††††† On July 19, 2004, the district court filed its order amending spousal maintenance to $0 retroactive to May 2002.† The district court found that appellantís net income between 1997 and 2002 increased from $961.02 to $1,731.36, or an increase of 80% and that, for the same time period, her expenses for herself and the children increased from $2,960.28 to $3,678.44.† Accordingly, the district court found that there was a substantial change in appellantís financial circumstances rendering the spousal maintenance award unfair and unreasonable.† On August 25, 2004, appellant filed a motion to amend the district courtís July 2004 order.† Before the motion was heard, appellant filed this appeal.
D E C I S I O N
††††††††††† Appellant moves
to strike from respondentís appendix the cover letter and affidavit setting
forth respondentís financial information.†
Appellant argues that the letter and affidavit were not properly before
the district court because, while they were filed with the district court,
appellantís attorney did not receive them until she was served with the brief
and appendix respondent filed with this court.†
The district courtís finding of respondentís average net monthly income
and its finding of what respondent claimed were his expenses reflect the
exhibits to respondentís affidavit.†
Thus, the letter and affidavit were both filed in, and considered by,
the district court.† On appeal, the
record includes the documents filed in the district court.†
††††††††††† The district court file, however, lacks an affidavit showing service of these documents.† See Minn. R. Gen. Pract. 7 (requiring proof of service for filed documents); Minn. R. Gen. Pract. 303.03(a)(1)-(3) (reciting service requirements for motions in family-law matters).† On appeal, respondentís attorney submitted an affidavit by his legal assistant stating that the legal assistant typed the letter and mailed both the letter and ďattachmentsĒ to the district court and appellantís attorney on April 21, 2004.† But the affidavit fails to identify the attachments that were mailed to appellantís attorney.† Because the record does not disclose what was mailed to appellantís attorney, we conclude that the district court should review the issue on remand and determine what documents were mailed to appellantís attorney and whether appellantís attorney should be afforded an opportunity to respond to respondentís financial documents.
A party moving to
modify maintenance must show both that there has been a substantial change in
circumstances since the dissolution or the last time maintenance was modified,
and that the change renders the existing maintenance award unreasonable and
unfair.† Minn. Stat. ß 518.64, subd.
2(a), (b) (2004); Hecker v. Hecker,
568 N.W.2d 705, 709 (
maintenance was set or last modified.† Wiese v. Wiese, 295 N.W.2d 371, 372 (
requires a showing of need, and the setting of a maintenance award involves
balancing the recipientís need against the obligorís ability to pay.† See Lyon
v. Lyon, 439 N.W.2d 18, 22 (
††††††††††† Here, the district court found that appellantís circumstances had ďimproved significantlyĒ between the dissolution judgment and the 2002 hearing.† In doing so, it found both that appellantís income had increased from the $961.02 found in the dissolution judgment, to $1,731.36 at the time of the 2002 hearing, and that appellant had employment-related benefits available to her in 2002 that were not available to her when the partiesí marriage was dissolved.† The district court also noted that while appellantís reasonable monthly expenses for herself and the children at the time of the dissolution were $2,960.28, in 2002, appellantís ďstated monthly expensesĒ were $3,678.44, suggesting that appellantís expenses increased less than her income.† Further, between the dissolution and respondentís 2002 motion, appellantís support and maintenance awards had increased.
whether appellantís circumstances actually improved substantially rendering the
original spousal maintenance award unreasonable and unfair cannot be determined
or reviewed on the existing record.† The
district courtís findings of fact are incomplete.† The findings should address all of
appellantís income including child support and spousal maintenance as well as actual
rather than ďstatedĒ expenses.† See Dean v. Pelton, 437 N.W.2d 762, 764
††††††††††† Because the district courtís findings of respondentís average net monthly income for the period 2000 to 2003 and its finding of respondentís ďstatement of living expensesĒ are based on respondentís affidavit that appellantís attorney claims she did not receive, we remand the questions of respondentís net monthly income and his reasonable monthly expenses for further review by the district court.† Accordingly, we do not address appellantís argument that the record and the district courtís findings are insufficient to support its maintenance ruling because neither the record nor the findings adequately addresses respondentís financial circumstances.
††††††††††† On remand, the district court should make both findings of fact on the partiesí maintenance-related circumstances as of the dissolution and respondentís 2002 motion to modify maintenance, as well as whether a substantial change in circumstances occurred rendering appellantís existing maintenance award unreasonable and unfair.† In that regard, any betterment of a maintenance recipientís circumstances is not necessarily sufficient, by itself, to allow reduction, reservation, or termination of a spousal maintenance award if after the betterment, the recipient still cannot reach the partiesí marital standard of living.† If the district court finds that, between the dissolution and respondentís 2002 motion, a substantial change in circumstances occurred rendering appellantís maintenance award unreasonable and unfair, the district court should set appellantís maintenance award at a new amount that would have been appropriate in 2002 and make findings explaining that amount.
Because three years have passed since the original March 2002 motion to modify spousal maintenance, and there have been two appeals and subsequent decisions by this court, the district court shall also have the discretion to consider the partiesí current financial situation and determine whether spousal maintenance should be adjusted for any changes in the partiesí circumstances occurring between respondentís 2002 motion and the proceedings on remand.† If the district court does so, it should make separate findings of fact explaining those adjustments.
††††††††††† Reversed and remanded; motion denied.
 Appellant contends that the first time she saw the letter and affidavit was when she was served with the appendix to respondentís brief in this appeal.
 We understand that the district court may not have been aware of this issue.
note, however, that a district court is not necessarily required to make
explicit findings on all statutory maintenance factors if certain factors are
not at issue or otherwise not before the district court for decision.† Justis
v. Justis, 384 N.W.2d 885, 891 (Minn. App. 1986), review denied (Minn. May 29, 1986); see Roberson v. Roberson,