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:
Sandra Paine, petitioner,
Filed March 16, 1999
Itasca County District Court
File No. F1921392
Mary I. Johnson, Johnson Law Firm, P.A., P.O. Box 1172, Virginia, MN 55792 (for respondent)
Ellen E. Tholen, 525 East Itasca Street, Grand Rapids, MN 55744 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Short, Judge, and Klaphake, Judge.
Appellant Paul Paine challenges the district court's order requiring him to continue paying spousal maintenance to his former wife, Sandra Paine, contending the district court abused its discretion in determining he retired in bad faith. We affirm.
Appellant argues the district court abused its discretion in determining that he retired in bad faith. We disagree. Where an obligor voluntarily creates a change of circumstances, the district court should consider the obligor's motives. In re Marriage of Richards, 472 N.W.2d 162, 164 (Minn. App. 1991). When an obligee raises a claim of bad faith, an obligor has the burden to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the decision to retire early was not primarily influenced by a specific intent to terminate maintenance. Id. at 165.
In determining this issue, the trial court should consider the obligor's health and employment history, the availability of and expectations regarding early retirement at the time of the divorce, and the prevailing managerial policies and economic conditions at the time of retirement, together with whatever subjective reasons the obligor may offer.
Id. If a court finds an obligor acted in bad faith to limit his income, the court may order an obligor to pay maintenance from personal assets. Id.; see also Seiber v. Seiber, 258 N.W.2d 754, 757 (Minn. 1977) (holding property award may be invaded if obligor limits income in bad faith).
Here, the district court appropriately considered the Richards factors and found: (1) the circumstances of the parties had changed due to appellant's early retirement; (2) both appellant's health and employment history were excellent; (3) at the time of the parties' divorce, there was no indication that appellant would retire before he reached 65; (4) an affidavit by the parties' daughter stated her father retired early to avoid spousal maintenance; and (5) respondent was left with only $285 per month while appellant received $2,869 per month, plus consulting fees.
Although appellant attempted to rebut the allegation of bad faith by citing job stress and the high number of eligible employees who accepted the early retirement plan, we cannot say the district court abused its discretion by rejecting this rebuttal. See Hopp v. Hopp, 279 Minn. 170, 175-77, 156 N.W.2d 212, 217-18 (1968) (holding court may look beyond obligor's earnings to obligor's earning capacity, and may disregard voluntary inability to pay); Resch v. Resch, 381 N.W.2d 460, 461 (Minn. App. 1986) (holding that even if obligor quits job due to stress, court may still direct obligor to pay support commensurate with wage earned if employed). We conclude the district court's determination that appellant retired in bad faith was not against logic and facts on the record.
Appellant argues the district court erred because the district court did not specifically make a finding of bad faith in its "findings of fact" section. We disagree. The court discussed and found bad faith in its attached memorandum. The Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure state:
It will be sufficient if the findings of fact and conclusions of law are stated orally and recorded in open court following the close of the evidence or appear in an opinion or memorandum of decision filed by the court or in an accompanying memorandum.
Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01 (emphasis supplied).