This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. ß 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In Re the Marriage of:
Susan Loretta Quance, petitioner,
Michael Francis Quance,
Filed December 21, 1999
Washington County District Court
File No. F6-96-1969
Barbara J. May, 4105 North Lexington Avenue, Suite 310, Arden Hills, MN 55126 (for respondent)
William E. Haugh, Jr., Matthew A. Slaven, Collins Buckley, Sauntry & Haugh, W-1100 First National Bank Building, 332 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Amundson, Presiding Judge, Peterson, Judge, and Foley, Judge.[*]
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
This appeal arises from a 1998-dissolution judgment that followed a 24-year marriage. Appellant challenges the district courtís denial of his motion for a new trial and its failure to amend its findings of fact and conclusions of law as fully as appellant had requested. Appellant contends the district court erred (1) when it determined that appellantís income was self-limited; (2) in its valuation of the partiesí business; (3) in its apportionment of a substantial amount of the marital debt to him; and (4) when it found property received by the parties during their marriage was marital property. We affirm.
During their marriage, appellant Michael Quance and respondent Susan Quance operated Quance Financial Services of which appellant is now the sole proprietor and salesperson. Throughout the marriage, the parties overstated their business deductions on their tax returns. At the time of their dissolution, respondent insisted that the parties report their tax deficiencies in order to receive amnesty. The resulting tax deficiencies were such that the parties effectively lost their entire marital estate.
D E C I S I O N
Appellant contends that because the district court incorrectly calculated his income, the court's awards for child support and spousal maintenance are erroneous. Specifically, appellant alleges the district court erred when it determined that he intentionally self-limited his income.
The standard of review of a district courtís determination of maintenance is whether it abused its wide discretion. Erlandson v. Erlandson, 318 N.W.2d 36, 38 (Minn. 1982). Findings of fact concerning spousal maintenance are upheld unless clearly erroneous. Gessner v. Gessner, 487 N.W.2d 921, 923 (Minn. App. 1992). Furthermore, when reviewing a district courtís determination of net income used to calculate child support, this court will not reverse if the determination has a reasonable basis in fact. Strauch v. Strauch, 401 N.W.2d 444, 448 (Minn. App. 1987).
The district court calculated appellantís monthly net income at $8,451.67 finding that appellantís own actions limited his income. The district court heard testimony from the partiesí children, as well as from appellant, that appellant was hiding assets and limiting the number of hours he worked in order to limit his income during the pendency of the dissolution proceeding. While the district court noted that appellant has some legitimate reasons for experiencing a decrease in his ability to earn, the court found he was not credible and that the reduction in income was of his own doing. The district court also calculated appellantís current income at a level lower than that which he has previously earned in prior years.
Given these facts, and the district courtís opportunity to judge the credibility of the witnesses, we conclude the district courtís calculation of appellantís net income was reasonably supported by the facts on the record. See Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01 (noting due regard must be given to district courtís opportunity to judge credibility of witnesses).
In addition to his contention that the district court erred in computing his monthly net income, appellant contends that the award of spousal maintenance of $2,000 per month is unreasonable and manifestly unfair. But appellantís objection is premised on his contention that his income is far less than the amount determined by the district court. Because we affirm the district courtís determination, we conclude that the amount of spousal maintenance awarded by the district court does not constitute an abuse of discretion.
The district court found the family business, Quance Financial Services, to be worth $255,000 after hearing extensive testimony from the neutral expert hired by both parties. Appellant alleges that the district court overvalued the business. The specific value of a marital asset is a question of fact, and we will not reverse a district courtís asset valuation unless clearly erroneous. Hertz v. Hertz, 304 Minn. 144, 145, 229 N.W.2d 42, 44 (1975). The district court need not have been mathematically exact in its valuation; rather the figure arrived at needs only be within a reasonable range of figures. Johnson v. Johnson, 277 N.W.2d 208, 211 (Minn. 1979).
Appellant contends that the district courtís valuation of the partiesí business is clearly erroneous for it "failed to consider several significant factors which the neutral expert, himself, conceded would have a significant impact on the assetís value." The expert provided extensive testimony about factors, which if in place, could effect the valuation of the business, such as loss of the contract between the business and the Minnesota Chiropractic Association. But none of these factors were in place at the time of the hearing. Nevertheless, the district court took into consideration these factors because although the expert valued the business at $281,000, the district court lowered the valuation to $255,000. Given this reduction in value, we cannot conclude that the court clearly erred in its valuation of the partiesí business.
The district court assigned appellant the partiesí entire tax debt, credit card debt, their childrenís private school tuition debt, and attorney fees. Appellant contends the district courtís debt assignment is unconscionable, punitive, and impossible of performance.
A district courtís apportionment of marital debts is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Justis v. Justis, 384 N.W.2d 885, 888 (Minn. App. 1986), review denied (Minn. May 29, 1986). "Debt is apportionable as part of the marital property settlement." Id. at 889 (citation omitted). Division of martial property must be just and equitable but need not be mathematically equal. Id. at 888. Furthermore, "a party to a dissolution may be liable for marital debts even though the other party receives the benefit of payment." Dahlberg v. Dahlberg, 358 N.W.2d 76, 80 (Minn. App. 1984).
A district court may apportion to one party a substantial amount of the marital debt or the debt in its entirety. See Lynch v. Lynch, 411 N.W.2d 263, 266 (Minn. App. 1987) (affirming requirement that husband to pay all martial debts); Jones v. Jones, 402 N.W.2d 146, 149 (Minn. App. 1987) (district courtís apportionment of debt upheld where husband voluntarily incurred exorbitant debts and failed to show any reason why wife should be forced to pay for half); Maher v. Maher, 393 N.W.2d 190, 194 (Minn. App. 1986) (apportionment of debt upheld where district court considered husband more able to pay the partiesí debts given his steady source of income); Justis, 384 N.W.2d at 889 (apportioning appellant entire marital debt was not erroneous where respondent had limited financial resources and custody of partiesí children). Additionally, where husband has incurred most of the marital debts without consulting his wife, this court has upheld apportionment of entire marital debt to the husband. Dahlberg, 358 N.W.2d at 80.
Here, the record shows: (1) appellant has a stable and steady source of income; (2) respondent works only part-time at a low wage and attends college full-time; (3) respondent has sole physical custody of the partiesí three minor children; and (4) appellant has claimed improper tax deductions on the partiesí tax returns against respondentís objections. Because appellant is in a better position to pay these debts, at least some of which he generated over respondentís objections, and because payment of these debts by respondent would severely strain respondentís limited financial resources, we cannot conclude that the district court abused its discretion in apportioning the marital debt to appellant.
Appellantís mother died in 1982 leaving her estate in Michigan to him. Appellant contends the district court erred when it determined that the Michigan property was marital property. An appellate courtís review of the district courtís conclusions in dissolution cases is limited. Olsen v. Olsen, 562 N.W.2d 797, 799-800 (Minn. 1997). Whether property is marital is a question of law that may be reviewed, but the reviewing court must defer to the trial courtís findings of fact. Id.
There is a statutory presumption that all property obtained during the marriage is marital property, regardless of the form of ownership. Minn. Stat. ß 518.54, subd. 5 (1998). To overcome the statutory presumption that the property is marital, a party must demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that the property is nonmarital. Wopata v. Wopata, 498 N.W.2d 478, 484 (Minn. App. 1993).
While respondentís interrogatory answers contained a claim that he inherited the property, at trial, respondent did not testify, nor did he offer any other evidence about how he acquired the property. Appellant did attach a copy of the warranty deed under which the Michigan property was conveyed to him alone. But, he did not do so until he made posttrial motions; thus, the warranty deed was not presented to the district court at the time of the hearing and was not part of the record before the court. In considering a motion for amended findings, a court "may neither go outside the record, nor consider new evidence." Rathbun v. W.T. Grant Co., 300 Minn. 223, 238, 219 N.W.2d 641, 651 (1974). Because the appellant failed to rebut the statutory presumption that the Michigan property is marital property, we conclude that the district courtís determination that it was, in fact, martial property was not erroneous.
Affirmed.[*] Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.