STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In Re the Marriage of:
Kathleen S. Krahn, petitioner,
Kenneth K. Krahn,
Filed August 20, 1996
Ramsey County District Court
File No. F294524
Michael B. Padden, Padden & Swift, P.A., 800 Rosedale Towers, 1700 West Highway 36, St. Paul, MN 55113 (for Respondent)
Lawrence D. Olson, Steven Thomas Hennek, Lawrence D. Olson & Associates, P.A., 2860 Snelling Avenue North, St. Paul, MN 55113 (for Appellant)
Considered and decided by Parker, Presiding Judge, Short, Judge, and Foley, Judge. 1
We must affirm a trial court's findings of fact unless they are clearly erroneous. Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01;
see also Gessner v. Gessner
, 487 N.W.2d 921, 923 (Minn. App. 1992) (applying this standard to factual findings concerning spousal maintenance). Krahn first argues the record does not support the finding that his former spouse is unable to pay maintenance. However, the record demonstrates Krahn's former spouse: (1) earns a net monthly income of $1,890.24; (2) receives $436.00 each month for their son as part of Krahn's disability benefits; (3) has reasonable monthly expenses of $2,169.00; and (4) repays an additional $300.00 per month in tax debts. This results in a monthly
of $142.76 and supports the trial court's finding.
Krahn also argues the trial court made clearly erroneous findings regarding his reasonable monthly expenses, his employment status, and his alleged additional income. We disagree. First, while the court did not use the estimation of expenses submitted by Krahn, a trial court need not accept a party's statement of reasonable monthly expenses when determining support issues, and the trial court permissibly reduced Krahn's expenses to reflect his actual costs. See Allan v. Allan , 509 N.W.2d 593, 597 (Minn. App. 1993) (stating, in the child-support context, that courts need not adopt a party's estimation of expenses). And second, the trial court reached no factual determinations on Krahn's alleged employment and additional income, but merely recorded the parties' arguments. Under these circumstances, we cannot say the trial court's findings are clearly erroneous.
Trial courts enjoy broad discretion in deciding whether to award maintenance and in setting the amount and duration of any award.
Zamora v. Zamora
, 435 N.W.2d 609, 611 (Minn. App. 1989). We will not reverse a spousal maintenance order unless it embodies "a clearly erroneous conclusion that is against logic and the facts on record."
Rutten v. Rutten
, 347 N.W.2d 47, 50 (Minn. 1984).
A trial court may award spousal maintenance if the spouse seeking assistance cannot support himself or herself. Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 1 (1994). If uncertainty exists as to the necessity of a permanent award, a court should order permanent maintenance, leaving the award open for future modification. Id. , subd. 3 (1994). The trial court found Krahn is entitled to temporary spousal maintenance while he recovers from his disability. However, because his former spouse currently is unable to make maintenance payments, the trial court reserved the issue of temporary maintenance for five years. On appeal, Krahn contends (1) the trial court abused its discretion by not immediately awarding permanent spousal maintenance due to his disability and his former spouse's ability to pay, or (2), in the alternative, the five-year designation is unjustified. See Safford v. Safford , 391 N.W.2d 548, 550 (Minn. App. 1986) (affirming an award of permanent maintenance for an obligee who was incapacitated by illness). Because his former spouse lacks the resources to justify a present award, the efficacy of this appeal rests on the propriety of reserving the issue of temporary, rather than permanent, maintenance for only five years. See Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 2(g) (1994) (requiring consideration of the proposed obligor's ability to meet his or her own needs while paying spousal maintenance); cf. Taylor v. Taylor , 329 N.W.2d 795, 800-01 (Minn. 1983) (noting "the issue is basically the financial needs of the parties and their ability to meet those needs," and reversing a trial court's decision not to make an immediate award of maintenance because the wife lacked sufficient income to meet her own needs and the husband's income exceeded his expenses).
The record shows: (1) Krahn receives social security disability benefits because he suffers from an eating disorder; (2) he has received treatment for this disorder; (3) his prognosis for recovery is "excellent"; and (4) he can control his disorder by adhering to a strict diet and participating in counseling. Krahn has presented no evidence to establish the expected length of his recovery or that he is permanently disabled. Under these circumstances, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by declining to award permanent maintenance and reserving the issue of temporary support for five years. See Griepp v. Griepp , 381 N.W.2d 865, 871 (Minn. App. 1986) (holding the trial court properly denied permanent maintenance when undisputed expert testimony showed the obligee could re-enter the job market and attain self-sufficiency after a retraining period); see also Wagstrom v. Wagstrom , 394 N.W.2d 841, 845-46 (Minn. App. 1986) (affirming an award of permanent maintenance because the obligee, who was classified as disabled for social security purposes, could not become gainfully employed), review denied (Minn. Nov. 26, 1986); Safford , 391 N.W.2d at 550 (noting the obligee's health had deteriorated and that she remained totally incapable of supporting herself). Furthermore, if Krahn is unable to recover from his disability, he can then seek permanent maintenance. Cf. Griepp , 381 N.W.2d at 870-71 (noting the district court retains jurisdiction over an award of temporary maintenance until the obligation ceases and may modify the award during that time if the obligee unsuccessfully attempts retraining).