This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In re the Marriage of:
Julie Marie Miller, petitioner,
Gary Lee Miller,
Filed February 13, 2007
Wilkin County District Court
File No. F3-04-150
Robert V. Dalager, Fluegel,
Helseth, McLaughlin, Anderson & Brutlag, Chartered,
John Bullis, Lies & Bullis, 610 Second Avenue North, P.O. Box 275, Wahpeton, ND 58074-0275 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Peterson, Judge; and Crippen, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
In this appeal from a dissolution judgment, appellant wife challenges her spousal-maintenance award and argues also that the district court abused its discretion when it allowed respondent husband to testify regarding the present value of husband’s insurance agency and when it adopted that value in its findings of fact. Both parties challenge the district court’s treatment of husband’s insurance agency in its property division. We affirm.
wife Julie Miller and respondent husband Gary Miller were married on
Husband’s insurance agency, under husband’s contract with American Family, cannot be sold to a third party. But American Family will pay husband “termination benefits” should husband ever wish to terminate his business. Under the contract, if husband had terminated his agency at the time of trial, American Family would have paid husband a total of $338,672 in 60 equal monthly installments, without interest. But the benefit amount is recalculated yearly and increases or decreases based on the preceding year’s production. Husband will collect nothing until he terminates his relationship with American Family, and he testified that he intends to work at least until he reaches age 65, which will occur in January 2016.
filed a petition for dissolution, a trial was held, the district court issued a
dissolution decree, and judgment was entered on
D E C I S I O N
Wife first challenges her
spousal-maintenance award. We review a
district court’s spousal-maintenance award under an abuse-of-discretion
standard. Dobrin v. Dobrin, 569 N.W.2d 199, 202 (
points out that wife appeals only from the district court’s amended judgment of
Wife argues that the district court failed to adequately consider the parties’ “standard of living established during the marriage,” which included the financial ability to invest, when it calculated the amount of maintenance husband should pay to wife. Wife’s assertion that the district court failed to consider the parties’ standard of living is unsupported. The district court made specific findings on each of the applicable factors listed in Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 2 (2006), including the standard of living established during the marriage, when it concluded that wife should receive $1,000 per month in maintenance payments from husband. And when the district court determined the amount of wife’s maintenance award, it noted specifically that the award was necessary because wife’s income would “make no provision for future asset acquisition in the form of further increases in cash surrender value in life insurance, business investments, vacations, vehicle purchases and other reasonable future expenses.” The district court did not clearly err when it determined wife’s expenses for the purpose of awarding spousal maintenance.
Wife argues also that the district court abused its discretion when it calculated husband’s monthly expenses for the purpose of evaluating his ability to pay maintenance because it included expenses that husband would incur because of the property division, including the payments that he would make to wife for her interest in husband’s insurance agency as well as property-division-equalization payments, which amounted to “double-counting them.” Improperly including these expenses, wife argues, resulted in an overestimation of husband’s monthly expenses and a corresponding undercalculation of husband’s ability to pay maintenance and thus of wife’s maintenance award.
When determining the proper amount and duration of a spousal-maintenance award, the district court is to consider “all relevant factors including”:
(a) the financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to the party . . .
. . .
(g) the ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance . . . .
Wife next argues that the district court clearly erred in valuing husband’s insurance agency. She contends that the district court abused its discretion when it admitted husband’s testimony regarding the present value of his agency-termination benefits because that testimony was based on inadequate foundation, and she further argues that the district court erred when it adopted husband’s present-value testimony in its findings of fact.
district court’s decisions regarding the admission or exclusion of evidence are
reviewed for an abuse of discretion. Kroning v. State Farm Auto. Ins. Co.,
567 N.W.2d 42, 45-46 (
also argues that the district court erred when it incorporated into its
findings of fact husband’s testimony that the then-present value of husband’s
termination benefits was $290,000. The
district court’s finding of fact will be upheld unless clearly erroneous. Antone
v. Antone, 645 N.W.2d 96, 100 (
Both parties challenge the district court’s treatment of husband’s insurance agency in its property division. The district court awarded the agency to husband but provided for the payment to wife of one-half of the value of the agency, which the district court determined to be the termination benefit that husband would receive if he closed the agency at the time of trial. Wife concedes that, in the ultimate property division, she received “one-half the net marital estate as the trial court determined it to be.”
“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.”
Sirek v. Sirek, 693 N.W.2d
896, 898 (
Acknowledging that “there exists some uncertainty about the future value of the termination benefit,” the district court determined that it was “fair and equitable” to award to wife one-half of the then-present value of the amount husband would receive in termination benefits from American Family if he had ended his relationship with American Family and closed his insurance agency at the time of trial. Based on husband’s testimony, the district court determined that the present value of the termination benefits was $290,000 and that wife should receive $145,000. The district court gave husband the option of either paying wife in one lump sum or making installment payments for 120 months with interest compounded at the rate of 5% per annum and with the option of prepaying all or part of the principal amount owed to wife. The district court also granted wife a lien on husband’s real property until payment is made in full.
Wife argues that the district court erred when it “present valued” the termination benefits and allowed husband ten years to pay wife her share. She urges this court to determine that the fair market value of the insurance agency is $338,000 and to direct that husband pay wife one-half of that sum immediately or in five equal annual payments with interest and secured by a lien. Husband argues that the district court erred when it awarded to wife her share of termination benefits that husband will receive at some future date because it placed all of the risk on husband that his termination benefits might decrease under the contract or might never be received at all. Husband’s concern is unwarranted because Minn. Stat. § 518.58, subd. 1 (2006), allows a district court to adjust its valuation of an asset “to effect an equitable distribution” if the value of the asset changes substantially. Husband contends nonetheless that a more appropriate disposition—the district court’s disposition as it stood in the original judgment—would have awarded each party his or her “full share of the agency’s value if and when the amount is paid.” Husband requests that this court remand with instructions to reinstate that portion of the district court’s original judgment.
parties treat husband’s termination benefits like pension benefits. Wife argues that, under DuBois, 335 N.W.2d at 503, “[i]t is not just or equitable to
determine the present value of future pension rights, award the non-employee
spouse one-half that value and then delay receipt of [that] share until the
employee spouse retires or reaches the age of 65.”
asserts that the district court should have applied one of the two methods
described in Taylor v. Taylor, 329
N.W.2d 795, 798-99 (
the district court did not employ precisely either of the methods described in
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.