Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Gwendolyn K. Orstad, petitioner,
Harold W. Orstad,
Dakota County District Court
File No. F69213205
R. Glenn Nord, Nord, Macklin & Meinerts, P.A., 207th Street & Holyoke Avenue, Post Office Box 427, Lakeville, MN 55044 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and Holtan, Judge.*
*Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
Appellant Gwendolyn K. Orstad (wife) contends the trial court abused its discretion when it reduced the spousal maintenance obligation of respondent Harold W. Orstad (husband) that had been set in a marital termination agreement. We affirm.
In June 1997, the child support obligation ceased and, pursuant to the marital termination agreement, husband's monthly spousal maintenance obligation increased to $1,000. He then moved to reduce the spousal maintenance obligation in view of wife's significant increase in income. Wife claimed monthly expenses of $2,958 and expressed a need for continued maintenance to maintain her standard of living.
The trial court found that wife's current income of $2,111 constituted a substantial increase since the decree. The court found that her income, plus $500 in maintenance, would be sufficient to cover her reasonable monthly expenses of $2,436 and meet her needs. Consequently, the court found the present $1,000 maintenance obligation unreasonable and unfair and reduced husband's maintenance obligation to $500 per month. Wife appeals.
The court may modify an order for spousal maintenance upon proof that a party's earnings or needs have substantially increased or decreased so as to render the existing order unreasonable and unfair. Minn. Stat. § 518.64, subd. 2(a) (1996). The marital termination agreement identifies the baseline circumstances against which the court evaluates claims of substantially changed circumstances. Hecker, 568 N.W.2d at 709.
The trial court found wife's income had substantially increased since the decree, while husband's income has remained relatively stable. Wife contends that this finding of increased income alone was insufficient to support modification because husband also needed to show that he had suffered an unfavorable change of circumstances. See Kaiser v. Kaiser, 290 Minn. 173, 182, 186 N.W.2d 678, 684 (1971) (generally, favorable change in one party's circumstances without unfavorable change in other party's circumstances is not sufficient ground for modifying stipulated financial arrangements that parties had incorporated into dissolution judgment).
We disagree. To the extent Kaiser requires a change in circumstances to both parties and/or the children, it has been overruled by the statute governing modification, which allows modification upon a showing of one or more factors that render the present order unreasonable and unfair. Minn. Stat. § 518.64, subd. 2. Further, Kaiser predates Minnesota's adoption of the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act in 1974. 1974 Minn. Laws ch. 107.
The record shows wife's net monthly income has increased from $660 to $2,111 since the parties negotiated the marital termination agreement and received the dissolution decree. Generally, "maintenance depends on a showing of need." Lyon v. Lyon, 439 N.W.2d 18, 22 (Minn. 1989). The record shows wife could already meet her expenses, and maintain the standard of living she had enjoyed during the marriage, based on her income and her existing maintenance payment. Under those circumstances, the court properly found that wife's increased income rendered the $1,000 maintenance order unreasonable and unfair. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in granting husband's motion to reduce spousal maintenance.