STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In Re the Marriage of:
Deborah Vokaty, petitioner,
Filed September 1, 1998
Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded
Wright County District Court
File No. F796431
Stephen R. Conroy, Conroy Law Office, 261 East Broadway, Monticello, MN 55362 (for respondent)
Robert E. Lieske, Wagner, Falconer & Judd, Ltd., 2650 IDS Center, 80 South Eighth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Forsberg, Judge, and Thoreen, Judge.**
This appeal is from the district court's amended judgment and decree dissolving the parties' marriage. Timothy Vokaty challenges the district court's determination of child support, the amount and duration of maintenance, and the court's valuation of the parties' homestead. The record supports the valuation of the parties' homestead and the award of permanent maintenance, but the district court incorrectly calculated Timothy Vokaty's child support obligation and did not support its award of maintenance with the necessary findings of fact. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.
Deborah Vokaty and Timothy Vokaty were married on April 23, 1983. The parties separated in August 1995 and remained separated until their dissolution on October 22, 1997. There are two children from the marriage, one who is 14 years old, born October 17, 1983, and another who is eleven years old, born June 16, 1987. The parties were awarded joint legal and physical custody of the children.
Timothy Vokaty works for Northern States Power as an instrumentation and control specialist. His gross monthly income is $4,929 and his net monthly income is approximately $3,000, including a proportionate share of his regular annual bonus minus an eight percent pension deduction. The district court found that Timothy Vokaty's reasonable monthly expenses are $2,440. Deborah Vokaty works for Big Lake Dental in Big Lake, Minnesota. Her gross monthly income is $1,582 and her net monthly income is $1,234. The district court found that her reasonable monthly expenses are $2,568.
Following the filing of the district court's order and decree, Timothy Vokaty moved for amended findings or, in the alternative, a new trial. Although the court amended its findings in other areas, it denied Timothy Vokaty's motion. He now appeals, alleging the district court erred by incorrectly calculating his child support payments, by awarding permanent maintenance in the amount of $400 a month, and by its valuation of the parties' homestead.
The district court's valuations of assets are findings of fact and will not be reversed on appeal unless they are clearly erroneous. Hertz v. Hertz, 304 Minn. 144, 145, 229 N.W.2d 42, 44 (1975). The valuation of an asset in a dissolution proceeding need not be exact, but the value must be within the reasonable range of figures. Id.
At trial, the parties discussed valuing the assets at the time of separation as opposed to the date of the pretrial, but no agreement was reached. The district court then made it clear that it needed more information to value the homestead adequately as of the date of the pretrial. After additional submissions, the district court found that the parties' home had a fair market value of $103,188 and was encumbered by a mortgage in favor of Norwest Mortgage in the amount of $74,783.74. This estimate was based on the Wright County Assessor's estimated 1996 market value of the home, $97,000, combined with a Sales Ratio Study performed by the Department of Revenue, which indicated that in the particular area the assessed value of property was about 94.1 percent of the actual value. At trial, Timothy Vokaty submitted a Century 21 realtor's report that indicated the fair market value of the home was between $116,000 and $120,000, but the report was undated and was not an appraisal. The district court left the record open for additional submissions with regard to the value of the parties' homestead, and the final valuation was within the reasonable range of figures submitted.
In joint physical custody cases, the proper method for determining child support is to calculate the amount each party would pay during the months that the other party has custody. Valento v. Valento, 385 N.W.2d 860, 863 (Minn. App.1986), review denied (Minn. June 30, 1986).
The district court incorrectly calculated Timothy Vokaty's child support payments by starting with his monthly guidelines payment of $900, subtracting Deborah Vokaty's child support payment of $400, and ordering Timothy Vokaty to pay the difference of $500 a month. The correct calculation is to multiply 30 percent of Timothy Vokaty's net income by the six months Deborah Vokaty has custody. The result is $5,400 a year based on a monthly guidelines payment of $900. The court should then multiply 30 percent of Deborah Vokaty's net income by the six months that Timothy Vokaty has custody. The result is $2,221.20 a year based on a monthly child support payment of $370.20. In the final step, the court should subtract $2,221.20 from $5,400 to find that Timothy Vokaty owes Deborah Vokaty $3,178.80 per year, or $264.40 a month.
On appeal from the district court's determination of a maintenance award, this court asks whether the district court abused its discretion. Erlandson v. Erlandson, 318 N.W.2d 36, 38 (Minn. 1982). The exercise of that discretion must be viewed in light of the statutory criteria contained in Minn. Stat. § 518.552 (1996). Id.
Timothy Vokaty challenges both the amount and duration of the maintenance award. The record does not indicate that Deborah Vokaty's income is going to increase at any time in the foreseeable future, nor does it indicate her expenses will be reduced. When it is not clear whether a maintenance award should be permanent or temporary, the court is to award permanent maintenance, leaving its order open for future modification. Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 3 (1996). We therefore find no error in the court's award of permanent maintenance.
The amount of the maintenance award, however, is not supported by the district court's order. The court found that Deborah Vokaty's net monthly income was $1,234 and her reasonable monthly expenses were $2,568, leaving her a monthly shortfall of $1,334. It then found that Timothy Vokaty's net monthly income was $3,000 and his monthly expenses were $2,440. Based on these calculations, the court ordered Timothy Vokaty to pay maintenance in the amount of $400 a month. But the court's findings do not indicate its consideration of the statutory criteria or if Timothy Vokaty's child support payments are accounted for in its calculation of his expenses or her needs. Stich v. Stich, 435 N.W.2d 52, 53 (Min. 1989) (district court should issue findings sufficiently detailed as to demonstrate its consideration of relevant statutory factors). We therefore remand the issue of maintenance to allow the district court to make more detailed findings explaining its reasoning.
Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 2.
** Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.