This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).




In Re the Marriage of:

Mona L. Landry, petitioner,



Philip Andrew Landry,


Filed December 24, 1996


Schumacher, Judge

St. Louis County District Court

File No. F894600381

Peter J. Nickitas, 1507 Tower Avenue, Suite 301, Superior, WI 54880 (for Appellant)

Timothy N. Downs, MacDonald & Downs, 200 Alworth Building, 306 West Superior Street, Duluth, MN 55802-1973 (for Respondent)

Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Foley, Judge.[*]



In a dissolution action, appellant Mona L. Landry (mother) challenges the trial court's (1) valuation of marital property, (2) child custody determination, and (3) temporary maintenance award. We affirm.


Mother and respondent Philip Andrew Landry (father) have two daughters. Crystal is an adult, and M.L., who was born July 24, 1979, is 17 years old.

Father is self-employed, operating Landry Transport and Refinishing Center (Landry Transport). The business rents its building and has a limited number of regular customers. Mother managed the bookkeeping and was responsible for the business's financial affairs. Net annual income from the business has ranged from $9,255 to $28,897.

Mother is employed as a home health aide with monthly net income of $1,050. She holds a degree in law enforcement, although she has never worked in that field.

The parties own their home, a triplex. The appraised market value of the triplex ranges from $75,000 to $99,000. Mother claims that the triplex was damaged while in father's possession.

M.L. testified that on more than one occasion, mother threatened her by holding a knife to her face. In September 1994 and June 1995, the court issued orders for protection restraining mother from harassing and threatening her family.

Mother filed a petition for dissolution. The trial court granted father temporary custody of M.L. and ordered a custody evaluation. The court also granted father temporary possession of the triplex and ordered father to (1) pay mother temporary maintenance of $700 per month, and (2) operate Landry Transport and give mother quarterly earnings reports. Following a trial, the court awarded father sole legal and physical custody of M.L. and ordered the parties to sell the triplex and divide the proceeds after satisfying a number of marital debts. The court awarded father Landry Transport and ordered father to be responsible for the business's debts of $9,877.23. The court then awarded mother several items of personal property that were in father's possession. Father was also ordered to pay spousal maintenance of $250 per month for 36 months, as well as $5,950 in temporary spousal maintenance arrears out of his share of the triplex proceeds.


1. Mother argues the trial court erred in its division of marital property, contending the court (1) did not consider the decrease in the value of the triplex and (2) erred in its valuation of Landry Transport. We disagree.

A trial court has broad discretion in dividing marital property. Rutten v. Rutten, 347 N.W.2d 47, 50 (Minn. 1984). A trial court's valuation of marital property will be affirmed if it has an acceptable basis in fact and principle. Castonguay v. Castonguay, 306 N.W.2d 143, 147 (Minn. 1981). An appellate court does not require the trial court to be exact in valuing assets, but the value should lie within a reasonable range of figures. Johnson v. Johnson, 277 N.W.2d 208, 211 (Minn. 1979).

The trial court found that the appraised market value of the triplex is $75,000 to $99,000. Mother contends the court erred by failing to make findings about the condition of the triplex, arguing that the triplex was damaged while father had exclusive possession of it. Mother points out that an appraiser valued the triplex at $74,000, and contends that with repairs it would be worth $90,000. However, she does not point to any evidence regarding how much these repairs would cost. Given this lack of evidence, we cannot say the trial court abused its discretion.

The trial court found that Landry Transport had assets worth $6,518. The court found that the business is solely dependent upon father's skill and talent for its value and has no "good will" or "going concern" value. Mother argues the trial court erred in its method of valuing Landry Transport, contending the court should have used a capitalization of income approach. She points to the testimony of an accountant, who said that only looking at the business's assets does not give an accurate valuation of the business. We note, however, that the accountant was unable to give an opinion on the market value of Landry Transport and stated that a multiplier method of calculating the value may not be accurate when the business has one key employee. Although Landry Transport sporadically hired help, the evidence supports the trial court's finding that the business was dependent on father's work. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in valuing the business. See Bateman v. Bateman, 382 N.W.2d 240, 246 (Minn. App. 1986) (holding that where insurance agency had no other employees other than owner, any valuation based on capitalization of income is inappropriate), review denied (Minn. Apr. 24, 1986); cf. Nelson v. Nelson, 411 N.W.2d 868, 872-73 (Minn. App. 1987) (rejecting adjusted book value approach because appellant was not business's only employee).

Mother also contends that the property award is unclear. She points to the following conclusion of law:

9. That [father] be awarded Landry Transport and Refinishing Center, Inc., including its fixed assets, the value of which is offset by [mother's] property award to [mother] herein.

The court awarded mother a large share of the parties' personal property in the next conclusion of law. It is clear that the court determined it was equitable to award the business to father and a larger share of personal property to mother.

2. Mother argues that the trial court abused its discretion by not appointing a guardian ad litem (GAL) and by awarding father sole legal custody of M.L. We will not reverse a custody determination unless the trial court abused its discretion by making findings unsupported by the evidence or by improperly applying the law. Pikula v. Pikula, 374 N.W.2d 705, 710 (Minn. 1985).

Mother contends that because there were allegations that she abused M.L., the trial court was required by statute to appoint a GAL. See Minn. Stat. § 518.165, subd. 2 (1996) (in all marriage dissolutions involving custody issues, if court has reason to believe minor child is victim of domestic abuse, "court shall appoint" GAL). Although the trial court should have appointed a GAL, in view of the record in this case, including but not limited to the fact that M.L. will turn 18 in a matter of months, we will not reverse the trial court on this issue.

Furthermore, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in awarding father sole legal custody of M.L. The trial court properly considered the factors under Minn. Stat. § 518.17, subds. 1, 2 (1996). The record indicates that the parties would have trouble cooperating and resolving disputes about M.L., evidenced by the fact that the court has issued two restraining orders in this matter. See Wopata v. Wopata, 498 N.W.2d 478, 482 (Minn. App. 1993) (where evidence indicates parties lack ability to cooperate and communicate, joint legal custody is inappropriate).

3. We will reverse a trial court's maintenance award only if the court abused its wide discretion. Erlandson v. Erlandson, 318 N.W.2d 36, 38 (Minn. 1982). Mother argues that the court did not make a finding to justify the reduction in temporary maintenance. Before trial, the court awarded mother $700 per month in temporary maintenance. After a trial, in which the court was able to evaluate the parties' financial situations, the court awarded mother $250 per month for 36 months. The court found that mother has net disposable monthly income of $1,050 and expenses of $1,350, and that father has monthly income of $2,050 and expenses of $1,700. Mother does not challenge these figures. The court also found that mother "has the ability to obtain higher paying employment." Given the facts that mother's monthly needs are met and she can obtain a job with greater pay, we find no abuse of discretion. See Lyon v. Lyon, 439 N.W.2d 18, 22 (Minn. 1989) (maintenance depends on need).


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