may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In Re the Marriage of:
Marilyn K. Rausch, petitioner,
Robert W. Rausch,
Filed April 27, 1999
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 209285
Ronald Resnik, 6200 Shingle Creek Parkway, Suite 340, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430 (for appellant)
Todd W. Foss, Stefanson, Plambeck & Foss, 403 Center Avenue, Suite 302, P.O. Box 1287, Moorhead, MN 56561 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge, Davies, Judge, and Halbrooks, Judge.
In this appeal from a marital dissolution judgment and from an order denying a motion for amended findings or a new trial, appellant argues that the trial court erred in (1) ordering him to pay spousal maintenance, (2) dividing the marital property, and (3) reserving the issue of child support. We affirm.
Appellant earns a net monthly income of $2,048.88 working for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, and respondent earns a net monthly income of $1,083 working at DC Wholesale Company. Respondent has an A.A. degree in therapeutic recreation and is working on a B.A. degree in special education.
The trial court (1) ordered appellant to pay respondent $800 per month spousal maintenance until January 31, 2002, and permanent spousal maintenance of $500 per month thereafter, (2) subtracted marital debts from marital assets and divided the remaining assets evenly, and (3) reserved the issue of child support because it could not determine from the evidence whether Kristina was still a child under Minn. Stat. § 518.54, subd. 2 (1998).
In a motion for amended findings of fact, or alternatively, a new trial, appellant asked the trial court to (1) modify the division of martial assets and liabilities, (2) modify the award of spousal maintenance, and (3) reconsider the issue of child support. The trial court denied the motion for a new trial and appellant's requests to revise the property division and reconsider the issue of child support. The trial court modified the maintenance award by reducing maintenance to $600 per month until January 31, 2002, and $400 per month permanently thereafter.
Appellant argues that the trial court erred by awarding spousal maintenance.
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). There must be a clearly erroneous conclusion against logic and the facts on record before a reviewing court will find that the trial court abused its discretion. Rutten v. Rutten, 347 N.W.2d 47, 50 (Minn. 1984).
A trial court may award maintenance if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance lacks sufficient property to provide for her reasonable needs, especially during a period of training or education, or is unable to provide adequate self-support through appropriate employment. Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 1 (1998). When determining the amount and duration of maintenance, the court must consider the factors in Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 2 (1998), but the basic issue in setting maintenance is "the financial need of the spouse receiving maintenance, and the ability to meet that need, balanced against the financial condition of the spouse providing the maintenance." Novick v. Novick, 366 N.W.2d 330, 334 (Minn. App. 1985). When the need for a permanent award of maintenance is uncertain, the court shall order a permanent award, leaving the order open for later modification. Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 3 (1998).
The modified maintenance award requires appellant to pay $600 per month until January 31, 2002, and $400 per month thereafter. The award also provides that for income tax purposes, maintenance payments are to be deducted from appellant's income and included in respondent's income.
The record demonstrates that (1) the parties had a 32-year marriage and enjoyed a comfortable middle-class standard of living; (2) respondent is 50 years old and suffers from lower back and leg pain from an injury sustained in a 1992 car accident; (3) respondent's expenses are $1,556.51 per month, and her income is $1,083, resulting in a $474 monthly shortfall; (4) respondent has monthly expenses associated with retraining, including school tuition and books; and (5) appellant's monthly income is $2,048, and his monthly needs are $1,634.34, resulting in a monthly surplus of $414.54.
Although respondent has an A.A. degree and is seeking a B.A. degree, she is 50 years old and suffers from injuries resulting from a car accident. Given respondent's age and physical condition, there is no certainty that she will finish her education and obtain employment that will make her self-supporting. Also, the record demonstrates that respondent lacks sufficient monthly income to provide for her reasonably monthly needs, and after considering the income tax consequences of the maintenance award, appellant has the ability to pay maintenance, while still meeting his monthly needs. See Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 2(a)-(d), (f)-(g) (factors to be considered when determining amount and duration of maintenance include financial resources of parties; duration of marriage; standard of living during marriage; age, education, and physical condition of the spouse seeking maintenance; time necessary to acquire sufficient education to enable spouse seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment; and probability of completing education and becoming fully or partially self-supporting). The trial court did not abuse its broad discretion in awarding maintenance.
2. Marital Property Division
Appellant argues that the trial court erred in its division of marital assets by ignoring the value of respondent's nonmarital property. We disagree. The trial court found that respondent (1) was injured in an automobile accident in 1992 and settled a personal injury claim arising from the accident for $40,000, (2) used $20,000 from the settlement to pay her attorney fees and medical bills, and to purchase a used car, and (3) placed the remaining $20,000 in an irrevocable trust used for future medical expenses. The trial court did not ignore the value of these nonmarital assets; it found that the used car and the trust are respondent's nonmarital property. Appellant makes no argument on appeal to support a claim that the trial court erred by not awarding him a portion of respondent's nonmarital property.
Appellant also argues that the trial court ignored statutory and case law regarding marital property distribution by dividing the parties' marital property assets evenly, instead of making a "just and equitable division" of the property.
Minn. Stat. § 518.58, subd. 1 (1998), requires that a division of marital property be "just and equitable."
A trial court has broad discretion when dividing property, and will not be overruled if the division has a reasonable and acceptable basis in fact and principle.
March v. March, 435 N.W.2d 569, 571 (Minn. App. 1989).
Among the factors that a trial court shall consider when dividing marital property are the length of the marriage, the age, health, amount and sources of income, employability, and needs of each party. Minn. Stat. § 518.58, subd. 1. The court shall also consider the contribution of each party in acquiring the marital property, as well as the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker. Id.
The trial court (1) determined that the parties had total marital assets worth $92,437, (2) subtracted an $18,626 marital debt for respondent's student loans, and (3) awarded $36,906 of the remaining amount to appellant and $36,905 to respondent. Given the facts that this was a 32-year marriage, during which both parties contributed substantially to the acquisition of marital property, and that neither party has significantly greater needs than the other party, the trial court's division of the marital property was not an abuse of its broad discretion. See Miller v. Miller, 352 N.W.2d 738, 742 (Minn. 1984) (equal division of property presumptively equitable upon dissolution of long-term marriage).
3. Child Support
Appellant contends that the trial court erred by reserving the child support issue because there is substantial, uncontradicted evidence that Kristina is incapable of self-support and is, therefore, a child within the meaning of Minn. Stat. § 518.54, subd. 2 (1998).
In a marital dissolution case, the trial court is accorded broad discretion with respect to support of the parties' children. Rutten, 347 N.W.2d at 50. There must be a clearly erroneous conclusion against logic and the facts on record before a reviewing court will find that the trial court abused its discretion. Id.
The trial court reserved the child support issue because it concluded that neither party had presented sufficient evidence to permit it to determine whether Kristina is a child under Minn. Stat. § 518.54, subd. 2. The court notified the parties that they could schedule a hearing to present evidence to aid the court in making a decision on this issue.
The evidence in the record demonstrates that Kristina has muscular dystrophy and cadiomyopathy and requires the assistance of a wheelchair. The evidence also demonstrates that Kristina is studying computer graphics at a technical college. Although appellant testified that Kristina would always need financial support, this testimony does not demonstrate that Kristina could not be employed and support herself. The trial court did not abuse its broad discretion by reserving the child support issue to permit the parties to present evidence of Kristina's ability to support herself.