may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
William F. Dolezal, petitioner,
Shelly Keehn, f/k/a
Rachel Lynn Dolezal,
Toussaint, Chief Judge
File No. 201081
Mark A. Gray, 1422 W. Lake Street, Suite 320, Minneapolis, MN 55408-2656 (for petitioner-appellant)
Robin Lee Dietz-Mayfield, Baker Court, Suite 305, 821 Raymond Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55112 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Toussaint, Chief Judge, and Amundson, Judge.
After approximately 11 years of marriage, appellant William F. Dolezal and respondent Shelly Keehn filed a joint petition and stipulation in dissolution of marriage. The district court incorporated the parties' stipulation into a final judgment and decree, filed April 12, 1994. The judgment and decree granted all the parties' marital property to appellant, but provided that appellant was to pay respondent $198,382, as and for her division of marital property. Part of respondent's award was to be paid over several years and was secured by liens on each of the properties. In May 1995, the district court, pursuant to the parties' stipulation, amended the original judgment and decree. However, neither the original nor amended judgment and decree specified what happened to respondent's liens in the event appellant sold any of the marital property.
Appellant subsequently attempted to sell one of the properties granted to him in the dissolution. Respondent filed a motion requesting, in part, that the court award her $35,000 for property allocation and principal reduction against that property. A family court referee denied respondent's request, and she sought review. The district court reversed and ordered appellant to pay respondent one-half of the proceeds from the sale of the property or the entire principle of the remaining lien, whichever was less. Appellant appeals from the district court's order, arguing it improperly modified the divorce judgment and decree. Because we conclude the district court simply issued an appropriate order to implement and enforce the parties' dissolution decree, we affirm.
A district court has broad discretion regarding the property settlement in a dissolution proceeding, and an appellate court will not modify its decision absent a clear abuse of that discretion. Miller v. Miller, 352 N.W.2d 738, 741-42 (Minn. 1984). If the district court's determination has a reasonable and acceptable basis in fact and principle, we must affirm. DuBois v. DuBois, 335 N.W.2d 503, 507 (Minn. 1983).
Appellant argues the district court improperly modified the original and amended judgment and decree by accelerating his payments to respondent. We disagree. Property divisions are final and therefore, can only be modified under limited circumstances. See Minn. Stat. § 518.145, subd. 2 (1996) (providing ways in which property division may be modified by court); Ulrich v. Ulrich, 400 N.W.2d 213, 218 (Minn. App. 1987) (concluding property divisions are final and not subject to modification except where they are result of mistake or fraud). However, a district court may issue appropriate orders implementing or enforcing provisions of a dissolution judgment and decree. Potter v. Potter, 471 N.W.2d 113, 114 (Minn. App. 1991). A court may clarify and construe an ambiguous or uncertain dissolution judgment and decree so long as it does not change the parties' substantive rights. Ulrich, 400 N.W.2d at 218.
The record demonstrates that: (1) appellant was awarded all the parties' marital property in the original judgment and decree; (2) respondent was awarded $198,382 as and for her portion of the marital property; (3) $158,382 of respondent's award was to be paid by promissory note and was secured by specific liens against each piece of marital property; (4) neither the original nor amended decree specified what happened to respondent's liens if appellant sold the property; and (5) requiring appellant to pay respondent part of the proceeds from the sale of the marital property would not alter the amount of money respondent is ultimately entitled to under the judgment and decree nor would it alter the amount of money appellant would be required to pay. Under these circumstances, we conclude the district court issued an appropriate order to implement and enforce the parties' dissolution decree and did not improperly modify that judgment and decree. See Stieler v. Stieler, 244 Minn. 312, 319, 70 N.W.2d 127, 131 (Minn. 1955) (concluding interpretation or clarification of judgment, ambiguous or uncertain upon its face, involves neither an amendment of its terms nor challenge to its validity); see, e.g., Potter, 471 N.W.2d at 113-14 (concluding trial court did not improperly modify divorce judgment and decree by ordering sale of property when decree did not specify how former wife's lien on marital property should be enforced in event of default).