This opinion will be unpublished and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:

Richard Harold Gruchalla, petitioner,



Natalie Sue Finch-Gruchalla,


Filed October 14, 1997


Parker, Judge

St. Louis County District Court

File No. F994600499

Steven J. Running, 200 Carnegie Building, 101 West Second Street, Duluth, MN 55802 (for respondent)

Jill A. Eichenwald, 902 Alworth Building, 306 West Superior Street, Duluth, MN 55802 (for appellant)

Considered and decided by Short, Presiding Judge, Parker, Judge, and Crippen, Judge.



The issues in the dissolution of the eight-year marriage of appellant Natalie Sue Finch-Gruchalla (Finch) and respondent Richard Gruchalla were visitation, child support, and property division. The parties agreed to joint legal custody of their five-year-old daughter, with Finch as the custodial parent. The court ordered one consecutive four-day visitation per month and four one-week visitations each month of the summer. The court found that Gruchalla's net monthly income was $1,595 per month and ordered him to pay statutory child support of $399 per month. In addition, Gruchalla was ordered to pay $70 per month as his contribution of one half of the child's health insurance and $81 per month as a day-care contribution. The court ordered the parties to split any uncovered medical expenses and ordered Finch to pay uncovered dental costs. The court found that allowing the parties to keep the property that each had in their possession was an equitable division, meaning Finch would retain all interest in her home and her personal injury settlement and Gruchalla would retain all interest in his business. Finch appeals from the district court's judgment and decree and order denying in part her motion for amended findings. We affirm.


Each of the issues Finch appeals is reviewed under an abuse of discretion standard. See Katz v. Katz, 408 N.W.2d 835, 840 (Minn. 1987) (attorney fees); Rutten v. Rutten, 347 N.W.2d 47, 50 (Minn. 1984) (property division, child support and maintenance); Manthei v. Manthei, 268 N.W.2d 45, 46 (Minn. 1978) (visitation).

Finch alleges that the district court made several errors when dividing the parties' marital and nonmarital property. The district court found Finch failed to establish what portion of her personal injury settlement was attributable to damage elements considered nonmarital, and this finding is supported by the record. The district court found that Gruchalla's pottery business was his nonmarital property, that the income generated by the business was shared by the parties during their marriage, that the value of the business had not appreciated, and that, accordingly, there was no marital portion of the business to allocate. Cf. Nardini v. Nardini, 414 N.W.2d 184, 192 (Minn. 1987) (increase in value of nonmarital business attributable to efforts of one or both spouses during marriage is marital property). The court's valuation of the business was also supported by the record. Finally, the district court did not err by allocating to Finch that part of the proceeds of the parties' homestead that she used to establish her new home. The district court's distribution of the parties' property was equitable and not an abuse of discretion. See Minn. Stat. § 518.58, subd. 1 (1996) (court shall make just and equitable division of property).

Finch argues that the child support ordered by the district court was based on an incorrect finding of income. A trial court's determination "of net income for the purpose of calculating child support will be affirmed if it has a reasonable basis in fact." Strauch v. Strauch, 401 N.W.2d 444, 448 (Minn. App. 1987) (citing Justis v. Justis, 384 N.W.2d 885, 890 (Minn. App. 1986)). Nothing in the trial record supports Finch's contention that Gruchalla's business mileage expenses were unreasonable, and Gruchalla's 1995 tax return supports the district court's income finding.

Finch challenges the district court's order that she pay uncovered dental expenses. There is no evidence that any uncovered necessary dental expenses exist, and, in light of this record, the court's order is not an abuse of discretion. In the event such expenses make the support order unfair, Finch can move for a modification of support. See Bock v. Bock, 506 N.W.2d 321, 326 (Minn. App. 1993) (liability for medical needs is considered child support for purposes of enforcement).

Finch alleges the district court erred by failing to make Gruchalla's use of the dependent deduction contingent on his child support payments being current. The record shows that Gruchalla is current in his support payments, and the district court's failure to include contingency language in its decree does not require remand. "Dependency exemptions are aligned with child support and may be modified upon a showing of a substantial change of circumstances pursuant to section 518.64." Biscoe v. Biscoe, 443 N.W.2d 221, 224 (Minn. App. 1991). If necessary, Finch may move to enforce support and modify the allocation of the dependency exemption if Gruchalla falls behind in support. Id.

We agree with the district court's finding that both parties waived the issue of maintenance. Nevertheless, the court's income findings support the refusal to order maintenance for either party. See Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 1 (1996) (party must demonstrate need for maintenance).

The record also supports the district court's visitation schedule. The holiday schedule does not favor one parent over the other, and the regular visitation schedule is fair in light of the distance that Gruchalla must travel to effectuate visitation.

Finally, the court's denial of attorney fees is supported by the record. Cf. Richards v. Richards, 472 N.W.2d 162, 166 (Minn. App. 1991) (if record would support fee award, court required to make findings to support denial of attorney fees).