This opinion will be unpublished and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:

Dona Jean Stanford, petitioner,



Wesley B. Stanford,


Filed December 31, 1996


Schumacher, Judge

Washington County District Court

File No. F9942268

Kenneth J. Jacobs, Shari A. Fagan-Crawford, 201 Westline Center, 1007 Broadway West, Forest Lake, MN 55025-1414 (for Appellant)

Beverly K. Dodge, Elizabeth A. Schading, Barna, Guzy & Steffen, Ltd., 400 Northtown Financial Plaza, 200 Coon Rapids Boulevard, Coon Rapids, MN 55433 (for Respondent)

Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Amundson, Judge.



Appellant Dona Jean Stanford (wife) argues the trial court abused its discretion in awarding her temporary spousal maintenance, claiming it is insufficient. We affirm.


Respondent Wesley B. Stanford (husband) and wife were married for 46 years. When the marriage was dissolved in February 1995, husband was 66 years old and wife was 65. Among their assets were sellers' interests in two contracts for deed.

In the initial dissolution judgment and decree, husband was awarded all rights and interests in one of the contracts for deed (for property located at 6800 295th Street), which provided him with monthly income of $430. He also received $1,011 in social security benefits and $807 in pension payments each month. Wife was awarded the rights and interest in the second contract for deed (for property at 5700 Stacy Trail), from which she received monthly payments of $525. She also received $357 per month in social security benefits. Wife was awarded a greater share of the marital property as well as spousal maintenance of $200 per month, payable until her remarriage or either party's death.

In an amended judgment and decree, the court made the parties tenants in common with respect to both contracts for deed, awarding wife 57.5%, and husband 42.5%, of the monthly payments and eventual balloon payments on both contracts. Wife's monthly income from her share of the two contracts for deed was $549.13, and husband's was $405.88. The court also vacated its earlier award of $200 monthly spousal maintenance and reserved the issue of maintenance. The court explained that wife got a disproportionately greater share of marital property ($141,073.42 to wife and $104,389.98 to husband) because of the disparity in the parties' monthly incomes.

Eight months after entry of the amended judgment and decree, wife moved for, among other things, permanent spousal maintenance of $600 per month. The court then issued another amended judgment and decree in May 1996. The court found that the contract for deed on the 5700 Stacy Trail property was in default, causing wife's monthly income to decrease by $301.88 and husband's monthly income to decrease by $223.14. The court ordered husband to pay temporary spousal maintenance of $300 from June 1, 1996, to January 1, 1997. The court ordered the parties to work to restore the defaulted contract for deed and stated that if it had not been restored by the end of 1996, the court would review the temporary maintenance award. Wife appeals.


On appeal from a trial court's determination of a spousal maintenance award, the standard of review is whether the trial court abused its wide discretion. Erlandson v. Erlandson, 318 N.W.2d 36, 38 (Minn. 1982). When a court reserves jurisdiction over the issue of maintenance, the court preserves its "authority to do in the future what it could have done at the time of the divorce decree." Harder v. Harder, 312 Minn. 300, 302, 251 N.W.2d 703, 704 (1977); see also McMahon v. McMahon, 339 N.W.2d 898, 900 & n.1 (Minn. 1983). A subsequent maintenance determination is based on the circumstances existing when the application for maintenance is made. Id. at 900.

Wife argues that the maintenance award in the second amended judgment and decree is insufficient. She contends that the temporary maintenance award leaves a gap between her monthly expenses and income.

We recognize that even with the temporary maintenance, wife has a monthly deficit. We note, however, that the trial court explained in the first amended judgment and decree that it awarded wife a disproportionately larger share of the marital property in recognition of the fact that she had lower monthly income than husband. Wife did not appeal from the first amended judgment and decree. The first amended judgment and decree was equitable only because the disproportionate property award was offset by the court's reservation of spousal maintenance. As husband points out, because the property division and reservation of maintenance are closely intertwined in this case, he is prejudiced by wife's attempt to seek permanent spousal maintenance at a time when he can no longer appeal the disproportionate property settlement. See Brugger v. Brugger, 303 Minn. 488, 494-95, 229 N.W.2d 131, 135-36 (Minn. 1975) (holding that reduction in age of majority has no retroactive effect on child support divisions, noting that "support provisions are usually so intertwined with other rights and obligations in divorce decrees" that changing right to support affects other portions of decree).

The second amended judgment and decree restores wife's income to its previous level. The trial court recognized that because one of the contracts for deed was in default, wife's monthly income had decreased. It addressed this temporary reduction (of $301.88) in wife's monthly income by ordering husband to pay temporary maintenance (of $300 per month). The court further ordered the parties "to restore the contract for deed payments" and stated that if payments were not restored by the end of 1996, the court would "review the temporary maintenance award by written submissions submitted on or before January 15, 1997." Given the facts of this case, we find no abuse of discretion.

Wife further argues the trial court abused its discretion by making the maintenance award temporary rather than permanent. Wife points to Minn. Stat. § 518.552 (1996), which provides:

Where there is some uncertainty as to the necessity of a permanent award, the court shall order a permanent award leaving its order open for later modification.

Id., subd. 3. Wife contends that the statute mandates a permanent award here because the default on the contract for deed creates sufficient uncertainty. We disagree. The interruption to wife's income caused by the default on the contract for deed is temporary and does not create uncertainty calling for a permanent award. See Gales v. Gales, 553 N.W.2d 416, 421 (Minn. 1996) (recognizing that while legislature's intention is to resolve doubts as to maintenance awards in favor of permanency, permanent award inappropriate when facts and circumstances of case do not warrant them). Wife's request for attorney fees and costs on appeal is denied.