This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. ß 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).

 

STATE OF MINNESOTA

IN COURT OF APPEALS

A06-481

 

 

In re the Marriage of:

Steven Nicholas Duffala,

petitioner,

Respondent,

 

vs.

 

Karen Marie Duffala,

Appellant.

 

Filed December 19, 2006

Affirmed
Klaphake, Judge

 

Scott County District Court

File No. F-04-22554

 

 

John F. Wagner, McDonough, Wagner & Ho, L.L.P., 14501 Granada Drive, Suite 200, Apple Valley, MN† 55124 (for respondent)

 

Dennis Felix, Felix Law Office, P.A., 200 East Travelers Trail, Suite 215, Burnsville, MN† 55337 (for appellant)

 

††††††††††† Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Ross, Judge, and Huspeni, Judge.*


U N P U B L I S H E D†† O P I N I O N

KLAPHAKE, Judge

††††††††††† Appellant Karen Marie Duffala challenges the district courtís order denying her motion to reopen the judgment dissolving the partiesí marriage, asserting that respondent Steven Nicholas Duffala committed fraud by failing to disclose the value of his retirement assets and that the district courtís refusal to reopen the judgment was therefore an abuse of discretion.

††††††††††† Because the district courtís finding that respondent made full disclosure of the partiesí assets is supported by record evidence, the courtís conclusion that appellant did not sustain her burden of proof is not an abuse of discretion.† We therefore affirm.†

D E C I S I O N

††††††††††† We review the district courtís findings for clear error, with due regard for the courtís opportunity to judge the credibility of witnesses, and its determination of whether to reopen a marital dissolution judgment for an abuse of discretion.† Haefele v. Haefele, 621 N.W.2d 758, 761 (Minn. App. 2001), review denied (Minn. Feb. 21, 2001); Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01.† The moving party bears the burden of proof in a motion to reopen a dissolution judgment.† Haefele, 621 N.W.2d at 765.

††††††††††† A decree of dissolution is final upon entry, subject to the right of appeal.† Minn. Stat. ß 518.145, subd. 1 (2004).† The district court may relieve a party from a dissolution judgment for various reasons enumerated in Minn. Stat. ß 518.145, subd. 2 (2004), including a finding that the judgment was based on fraud or misrepresentation.† Id.

††††††††††† ďThe general rule is that parties to a marital dissolution proceeding have a duty to make a full and accurate disclosure of all assets and liabilities to facilitate the trial courtís property distribution.† This duty to fully disclose extends to the time the decree is entered.Ē† Ronnkvist v. Ronnkvist, 331 N.W.2d 764, 765-66 (Minn. 1983).† Thus, ďthe failure of a party to a dissolution to make a full and complete disclosure constitutes a sufficient reason to reopen the dissolution judgment for fraud.Ē† Doering v. Doering, 629 N.W.2d 124, 129 (Minn. App. 2001), review denied (Minn. Sep. 11, 2001).

††††††††††† Appellant asserts that respondent failed to make a full disclosure of the partiesí assets before they entered into the marital termination agreement and stipulated judgment and decree, pointing to the lack of numerical values in those documents.† But the district court found that respondent had made full disclosure and that appellant was not a credible witness.† This court accepts the factual findings of the district court unless clearly erroneous, particularly on issues of witness credibility.† Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01.† Furthermore, there is sufficient record evidence to support the district courtís finding.

††††††††††† Respondent testified that (1) appellant saw copies of his pension and retirement accounts at various times; (2) for most of their married life, appellant handled the partiesí financial and tax affairs; and (3) appellant knew where the retirement account documents were kept and had access to them.† Respondentís dissolution attorney testified that (1) although no values were disclosed to him by the parties, the parties discussed the ďlarge discrepancy between their respective retirement accountsĒ in his presence; (2) appellant bargained for greater life insurance coverage for the partiesí children by agreeing to waive claims to respondentís retirement interests; and (3) appellant won a larger portion of the homestead equity ďby way of negotiation and compromise after considering . . . [appellantís] potential interest in [respondentís] retirement accounts.Ē† The district court found this testimony credible.

††††††††††† We also note that appellant signed the stipulated judgment, approving it as to form and content.† This document included a clause stating that the parties had made full and fair disclosure of their assets and income.† Both the parties and respondentís dissolution attorney agreed that they had reviewed this document line by line.†

††††††††††† Although a disclosure of the specific value of marital property is preferable, the district courtís findings establishing that the parties knew at least the relative values of their retirement accounts are not clearly erroneous, and support the courtís conclusion that appellant failed to prove that respondent committed fraud by failing to disclose assets.† We conclude, therefore, that the district courtís refusal to reopen the judgment was not an abuse of discretion, and affirm.

††††††††††† Affirmed.



* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, ß 10.