This opinion will be unpublished and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:

Mark Lindsay Kreter, petitioner,



Carol Lee Kreter,


Filed May 27, 1997

Reversed and Remanded

Kalitowski, Judge

Olmsted County District Court

File No. F1953225

Kevin A. Lund, Lund & Patterson, 7 Fourth Street SE, Rochester, MN 55904 (for Respondent)

Jill I. Frieders, O'Brien, Ehrick, Wolf, Deaner & Maus, L.L.P., 206 South Broadway, Suite 611, P.O. Box 968, Rochester, MN 55903-0968 (for Appellant)

Considered and decided by Davies, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Mansur, Judge.[*]



Appellant Carol Lee Kreter challenges the district court's award of permanent spousal maintenance to respondent Mark Lindsay Kreter in the amount of $277 per month. We reverse and remand.


District courts have broad discretion in establishing maintenance, and their determinations will not be set aside in the absence of an abuse of discretion. Erlandson v. Erlandson, 318 N.W.2d 36, 38 (Minn. 1982). "That discretion must be examined in light of the controlling statutory guidelines contained in Minn. Stat. § 518.552." Id. Further,

[e]ffective appellate review of the exercise of that discretion is possible only when the trial court has issued sufficiently detailed findings of fact to demonstrate its consideration of all factors relevant to an award of permanent spousal maintenance.

Stich v. Stich, 435 N.W.2d 52, 53 (Minn. 1989). There is an abuse of discretion where the district court reaches a clearly erroneous conclusion against logic and the facts on record. Zamora v. Zamora, 435 N.W.2d 609, 611 (Minn. App. 1989).

A district court may award spousal maintenance if it finds the spouse seeking maintenance is otherwise unable to provide for his or her needs considering the standard of living established during marriage. Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 1 (1996); Lyon v. Lyon, 439 N.W.2d 18, 22 (Minn. 1989). The maintenance order shall be in amounts and for periods of time as the district court deems just after considering all the relevant factors set out in Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 2 (1996). Although there are eight statutory factors, the issue is basically the financial needs of the recipient and his ability to meet those needs balanced against the financial condition of the payor. Erlandson, 318 N.W.2d at 39-40.

The district court found: (1) respondent's net monthly income was $1,343 and his monthly expenses were $1,450; and (2) respondent has a demonstrated need for maintenance. The district court awarded respondent the difference between his income and expenses, plus 25 percent of appellant's net excess income. Appellant argues the district court erred in awarding respondent permanent spousal maintenance. We agree that the district court's findings are not sufficient to indicate that respondent meets the requisite statutory factors for an award of permanent maintenance.

The supreme court has stated that

to consider an award of permanent maintenance, there must be an exceptional case such as the dissolution of a long-term traditional marriage in which there is an older, dependent spouse who has little likelihood of achieving self-sufficiency because of an absence from the labor market for a long period of time.

Gales v. Gales, 553 N.W.2d 416, 421 (Minn. 1996) (citations omitted). Here both parties worked full time and they had no children. There was no evidence that respondent, who has been employed as a school custodian for 17 years, sacrificed his career for the benefit of the family. To the contrary, the district court specifically found respondent chose not to pursue further education during the marriage and "has no plans to change careers and/or pursue further education or training." The district court made no finding regarding respondent's likelihood of achieving self-sufficiency, but concluded respondent does not have the ability to provide adequate self-support. There are insufficient findings to support this conclusion. The record appears to indicate respondent is 47 years old, in good health, and capable of obtaining more education or training to achieve self-sufficiency. The fact that respondent has chosen not to seek higher paying employment does not necessarily mean he lacks the ability to be self-supporting. Further, although appellant may have the ability to pay spousal maintenance while meeting her own needs, absent a demonstrated need for maintenance by respondent, mere income disparity is not a sufficient basis for awarding maintenance. See Snyder v. Snyder, 298 Minn. 43, 53, 212 N.W.2d 869, 875 (1973) (purpose of maintenance is "not to provide [a former spouse] with a lifetime profit-sharing plan").

Appellant also challenges the amount of maintenance awarded by the district court. Appellant correctly points out that the district court failed to consider the investment income respondent will earn from the approximately $50,000 in marital assets he received in the property distribution. "Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 2(a), requires the courts to consider financial resources, which include income produced by liquid assets." Fink v. Fink, 366 N.W.2d 340, 342 (Minn. App. 1985) (citation omitted). In addition, the district court appears to have awarded respondent an amount in excess of his claimed reasonable monthly expenses solely because appellant had the ability to pay. See Lyon, 439 N.W.2d at 21-22 (spouse's ability to pay maintenance does not entitle spouse seeking maintenance to maintenance in excess of his or her reasonable needs). "[M]aintenance is awarded to meet need." Id. at 22 (citation omitted). Here, the district court made no findings to justify a maintenance award in an amount greater than the difference between respondent's income and his reasonable monthly expenses.

Because we conclude the district court's findings do not justify the award of permanent maintenance, or support the amount of maintenance awarded, we reverse and remand. On remand, in such proceedings as the district court deems appropriate, the district court shall make a determination, with appropriate findings, regarding the amount and duration of maintenance, if any, respondent is entitled to under Minn. Stat. § 518.552.

Reversed and remanded.

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