may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In Re the Marriage of:
James Edward McDougle, petitioner,
Shelly Ann McDougle,
Filed September 29, 1998
Stearns County District Court
File No. F5971349
Robert H. Wenner, Reichert, Wenner, Koch & Provinzino, P.A., 501 St. Germain, P.O. Box 1556, St. Cloud, MN 56302 (for respondent)
Paul A. Jeddeloh, Peters, Jeddeloh & Skelly, L.L.P., Suite 226, Marketplace, 110 South Second Street, Waite Park, MN 56387 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Short, Judge, and Thoreen, Judge.
In this appeal from a dissolution judgment, appellant wife challenges the trial court's denial of her request for spousal maintenance and the valuation date used for division of retirement assets. We affirm.
The 18-year marriage of appellant Shelly Ann McDougle and respondent James Edward McDougle was dissolved in December 1997. As part of the dissolution decree, the trial court awarded the parties joint legal and physical custody of their 17-year-old child. The court also awarded the homestead to respondent and ordered him to pay appellant $6,500 as her share. Respondent was to assume responsibility for the parties' debts (totaling $9,733). Although the child resided with respondent, the court did not order appellant to pay child support. The court declined to award spousal maintenance, and each party was awarded a 50% interest in the other's retirement benefits as of November 19, 1996, the date the action was commenced.
Following entry of judgment, appellant moved to amend the trial court's findings and conclusions or for a new trial. The court amended its findings and conclusions and denied the motion for a new trial. This appeal followed.
The standard of review on appeal from a trial court's determination of a maintenance award is whether the trial court abused the wide discretion accorded to it.
Erlandson v. Erlandson, 318 N.W.2d 36, 38 (Minn. 1982). Abuse of discretion will be found only if the trial court has made "a clearly erroneous conclusion that is against logic and the facts on record." Rutten v. Rutten, 347 N.W.2d 47, 50 (Minn. 1984).
A court may award maintenance if its finds that the spouse seeking maintenance is unable to provide adequate self-support through appropriate employment or from property. Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 1 (1996). The amount and duration of maintenance depends on the financial needs of the recipient spouse and the ability of the other spouse to pay. Id., subd. 2 (1996).
As part of the dissolution decree, appellant was awarded $6,500 for her share of the homestead and a 50% interest in respondent's retirement benefits. Appellant argues that, because these assets are insufficient to provide for her reasonable needs or to assist in her training, she should have been awarded spousal maintenance.
The record shows that appellant has two part-time positions and an average net monthly income of $974. Her monthly expenses are $1,530. Respondent also has two jobs, one full time and one part time. His average net income is $2,541 a month, with monthly expenses of $2,970. The trial court found that both parties "lack sufficient income and property to provide for their reasonable individual needs." Although respondent's monthly living expenses would decrease to $2,395 when the parties' child reached majority, the court believed it would be unfair and would cause an undue hardship for respondent "to maintain two jobs in perpetuity" so as to provide additional income for appellant.
The record also shows that appellant obtained her GED when she was 30 years old. Since then she has taken several college-level art courses. She testified that it would take her at least five years to obtain a degree. Appellant's only career plans were to "do things in the arts like design." We agree with the trial court that appellant's efforts at a college education are too minimal and her after-college goals too vague for respondent to pay her tuition.
Considering the totality of the circumstances, including respondent's overtime work, responsibility for the parties' jointly acquired debts, and support of their child, the trial court's maintenance determination was not clearly erroneous and against logic and the facts on record.
The trial court must value marital assets as of the date of the initially scheduled prehearing settlement conference, unless the parties agree on a different date or "the court makes specific findings that another date of valuation is fair and equitable." Minn. Stat. § 518.58, subd. 1 (1996). The trial court has broad discretion in dividing property and, absent an abuse of discretion, its decision must stand. Rutten, 347 N.W.2d at 50; see also Desrosier v. Desrosier, 551 N.W.2d 507, 510 (Minn. App. 1996) (reviewing trial court's choice of valuation date under abuse of discretion standard).
Here, the trial court set the date of valuation (applicable only to division of the parties' retirement benefits) as November 19, 1996, the date this action was commenced. The court recognized that the date normally chosen for valuation is the date of the pre-hearing settlement conference but found that, since commencement of the action, respondent had been solely responsible for paying the parties' debts and for support of the minor child and was contributing $143 a month to the retirement plan. Based on these facts, the court found that "it is fair and equitable" to set November 19, 1996, as the valuation date.
Although both parties continued living in the homestead until appellant left on August 1, 1997, there is no indication in the record that appellant was contributing toward payment of the parties' joint debts or toward support of the child prior to that date. The trial court's findings meet the requirement of specificity set forth in the statute, and the court did not abuse its discretion in determining the valuation date for the retirement accounts.
*Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.