This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In re the Marriage of:
Eileen Walsh Doyle, petitioner,
Joseph William Doyle,
Filed February 20, 2007
Ramsey County District Court
File No. F7-02-1442
Becky Toevs Rooney, 700 Rand Tower, 527 Marquette Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55402; and
Donald Halva, Halva Law Firm, 460 Ninth Avenue Northwest, New Brighton, MN 55112 (for respondent)
Alan C. Eidsness, Court J. Anderson, Henson & Efron, P.A., 220 South Sixth Street, Suite 1800, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Ross, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant Joseph William Doyle argues that the district court abused its discretion by denying his motion to modify the spousal maintenance provision of his marital dissolution judgment and decree. We affirm.
D E C I S I O N
In 2003, appellant and respondent ended their marriage of almost 34 years. The parties agreed to the conditions upon which the marriage would be dissolved, and the district court adopted the stipulated marital termination agreement in its April 18, 2003 findings of fact, conclusions of law, order for judgment and decree.
The parties divided the marital property equally. The maintenance provisions are as follows:
Commencing 4-1-03, [appellant] shall pay [respondent], as and for Spousal Maintenance, 50% of his gross income. Payments shall be made as follows:
A) In monthly installments of $4767.00 ($2200.00 per pay period based on 26 pay periods per year) or 50% of [appellant’s] net income whichever is greater.
. . .
Maintenance from [appellant] to [respondent] shall continue until the death of either party. Maintenance from [appellant] to [respondent] shall not terminate upon [respondent’s] remarriage, [h]owever, nothing shall preclude modification based upon a change of circumstances pursuant to Minn. Stat. Section 518.64.
The record indicates that at the time of the dissolution appellant’s gross annual income was approximately $300,000. The record further indicates that within three years his income had increased to nearly $500,000. Appellant’s motion to modify the spousal maintenance provision contended that because of appellant’s increased salary, he is required to pay maintenance in an amount that greatly exceeds respondent’s needs.
Whether to modify spousal maintenance lies within the discretion of the district court. Youker v. Youker, 661 N.W.2d 266, 269 (Minn. App. 2003), review denied (Minn. Aug. 5, 2003). A district court abuses its discretion if its findings of fact are unsupported by the record or if it improperly applies the law. Dobrin v. Dobrin, 569 N.W.2d 199, 202 & n.3 (Minn. 1997).
The party requesting modification must “demonstrate that there has occurred a substantial change in one or more of the circumstances identified in the statute and . . . show that the substantial change has the effect of rendering the original award unreasonable and unfair.” Hecker v. Hecker, 568 N.W.2d 705, 709 (Minn. 1997); see also Minn. Stat. § 518A.39, subd. 2 (2006) (stating that a district court may modify spousal maintenance “upon a showing of . . . substantially increased or decreased earnings of a party . . . which makes the terms [of the current provision] unreasonable and unfair”).
We assume without deciding that a $200,000 increase in appellant’s salary was a substantial increase for purposes of Minn. Stat. § 518A.39, subd. 2. But appellant still must demonstrate that the result of applying the existing spousal maintenance provision to his increased salary renders the provision unreasonable and unfair. And whether appellant has made the necessary showing is within the district court’s discretion. See Minn. Stat. § 518A.39, subd. 2.
Here, the district court found that appellant, “employed in a ‘senior management’ position at TCF Financial Corporation where he earned an approximate gross annual income of $300,000.00,” was “not unsophisticated, and is capable of understanding financial matters.” Therefore, appellant understood the terms of the original agreement when he entered into it. The district court further found that “[t]he parties’ [sic] made a fair and equitable bargain upon which their marriage was dissolved, and the financial assets divided. The bargain required the [respondent] to weather the ups and downs of the [appellant’s] business as she had done during the parties’s [sic] thirty-four years of marriage.”
The record indicates that the spousal maintenance provision included a lower limit to the amount of spousal maintenance owed, but did not include an upper limit. The parties agreed that respondent would receive 50% of appellant’s income so long as that percentage resulted in a greater amount than the established minimum. The district court concluded that “[r]ewriting the terms of that bargain three years after the fact would be inequitable and unfair destroying the foundation for the entire agreement and distribution of property.”
We conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion in rejecting appellant’s need-based argument. The agreement makes no mention of need. In addition, the agreement includes language that evidences the parties’ intent not to base appellant’s obligation on respondent’s needs. Not only does the agreement not provide for an upper limit to appellant’s obligation, but the agreement also includes a provision that maintenance would not terminate if respondent remarries.
Because the decision to modify the maintenance provision of the dissolution decree was within the district court’s discretion and the court’s findings support its conclusions of law, we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to modify the maintenance provision of the dissolution order.