This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1994).




In Re the Marriage of:

Margaret Somody-Parks, petitioner,



David John Parks,


Filed November 26, 1996


Schumacher, Judge

Hennepin County District Court

File No. 198491

Ellen Dresselhuis, Dresselhuis Law Office, P.A., Enterprise Building, 2738 Winnetka Avenue North, New Hope, MN 55427-2850 (for Respondent)

Judith L. Mason, 6200 Shingle Creek Parkway, Suite 570, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430 (for Appellant)

Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Amundson, Judge.



Appellant David John Parks claims errors in the district court's division and valuation of marital property, its award of spousal maintenance, and its award of attorney fees. We affirm.


Parks and respondent Margaret Somody-Parks were married on August 27, 1988, in the province of Quebec, Canada. At the time of the marriage, Parks worked in Minnesota. After the wedding, Somody-Parks entered the United States on a student visa and pursued a bachelor's degree at the University of Minnesota. Somody-Parks subsequently changed her visa status in order to pay resident tuition rates, however the new visa status prohibited her from working for pay. In May 1993, Somody-Parks completed her bachelor's degree course work, although it is unclear from the record whether she received her degree. Also that same month, Parks's work caused him to relocate to Colorado, although Somody-Parks remained in Minnesota.

On November 12, 1993, Somody-Parks filed her petition for dissolution of marriage. The judgment and decree awarded Somody-Parks spousal maintenance of $1,000 per month for one year, commencing April 1, 1995, and attorney fees in the amount of $1,500. Parks subsequently moved for amended findings, seeking relief from the maintenance obligation due to his unemployment. The district court reserved Parks's obligation to pay maintenance and awarded Somody-Parks an additional $750 for attorney fees. On October 20, 1995, the district court ordered Parks, once again gainfully employed, to begin paying spousal maintenance in the amount of $1,000 per month, effective October 1.

Parks failed to pay maintenance and the attorney fees. On March 7, 1996, the district court ordered Parks to pay $5,000 for arrears in spousal maintenance for the period October 1, 1995, through February 29, 1996. On May 31, 1996, judgment was entered against Parks (1) in the amount of $5,058.06 for arrears in spousal maintenance; and (2) in the amount of $2,250 for attorney fees. Parks appeals.


1. Parks claims that he should be compensated for the financial support he provided Somody-Parks during the period of her schooling, citing DeLa Rosa v. DeLa Rosa, 309 N.W.2d 755 (Minn. 1981). DeLa Rosa presented the

common situation where one spouse has foregone the immediate enjoyment of earned income to enable the other to pursue an advanced education on a full-time basis.

Id. at 758. In such a situation, the district court has the equitable authority to provide an award to the working spouse, and its decision will not be reversed absent an abuse of discretion. Id. To qualify for an equitable recovery, there must be a significant sacrifice and foregoing of the enjoyment of earned income on the part of the working spouse. Ellesmere v. Ellesmere, 359 N.W.2d 48, 51 (Minn. App. 1984).

Parks's claim that Somody-Parks moved to Minnesota to further her education is belied by the fact that he was already working and living in Minnesota when the parties married. Although Somody-Parks's visa status prohibited her from working for pay, Parks benefited from paying lower tuition rates. Parks's annual income of $76,000 made any monetary sacrifice insignificant. His sizable award of marital property goes against "the DeLa Rosa rationale of providing something to a spouse who would otherwise receive nothing." Davey v. Davey, 415 N.W.2d 84, 87 (Minn. App. 1987), review denied (Minn. Jan. 20, 1988). The district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Parks an equitable recovery.

2. District courts are afforded broad discretion in both the valuation and distribution of marital property. Ronnkvist v. Ronnkvist, 331 N.W.2d 764, 766 (Minn. 1983). Absent an abuse of discretion, the district court's decision must stand. Rutten v. Rutten, 347 N.W.2d 47, 51 (Minn. 1984). Initially, we note that the district court properly valued the marital assets "as of the day of the initially scheduled prehearing settlement conference." Minn. Stat. § 518.58, subd. 1 (1994). Further, the district court's division of property was clearly based on several relevant factors. See id. A review of the judgment and decree shows that the district court considered the parties' antenuptial agreement. The district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Parks a reimbursement for the cost of Somody-Parks's "green card," an expenditure made during the marriage when Somody-Parks was unemployed and without financial resources.

Parks argues that the district court improperly considered only the value of assets acquired by him, not Somody-Parks, after the separation, specifically contributions to his retirement and stock option plans. Marital property includes property acquired by the parties after commencing the dissolution but prior to the final decree. Minn. Stat. § 518.54, subd. 5 (1994). The district court credited Parks with retiring debt previously accumulated by Somody-Parks. Parks fails to identify what specific assets the district court should have considered. On this record, the district court's treatment of the parties' assets, while arguably disparate, was not inequitable. See Minn. Stat. 518.58, subd. 1 (division of marital property shall be "just and equitable").

Parks claims that, with regard to the division of marital property, the district court failed to consider Somody-Parks's income. See id. (district court shall base its findings on all relevant factors including amount and sources of income). Assuming, but not conceding, that the district court committed error, Parks must still demonstrate that the error caused him prejudice. Bloom v. Hydrotherm, Inc., 499 N.W.2d 842, 845 (Minn. App. 1993), review denied (Minn. June 28, 1993). Given that Somody-Parks's monthly expenses were greater than any alleged earnings, we fail to discern any prejudice to Parks. We note that Parks does not challenge the district court's finding with regard to Somody-Parks's monthly expenses.

The district court did not abuse its discretion in its valuation of Parks's non-marital interest in certain property. With regard to the current value of his non-marital interest in the homestead, the district court's award in the amended judgment and decree was greater than what Parks originally claimed. As to the non-marital amount of his retirement account, Parks is entitled to the original non-marital asset plus any appreciation in value. Swick v. Swick, 467 N.W.2d 328, 331 (Minn. App. 1991), review denied (Minn. May 16, 1991). The district court, however, found Parks's chart insufficient to support his claim for appreciated value. Parks bears the burden of providing the district court with clear documentary evidence to support his claim. Ronnkvist, 331 N.W.2d at 766 (district court's valuation and distribution should be supported by clear documentary evidence).

3. A district court's determination of spousal maintenance will not be overturned absent an abuse of the wide discretion accorded the district court. Erlandson v. Erlandson, 318 N.W.2d 36, 38 (Minn. 1982). Finding that the district court abused its discretion requires "a clearly erroneous conclusion that is against logic and the facts on record." Rutten, 347 N.W.2d at 50. While Minn. Stat. § 518.552 (1994) lists factors to be considered in determining the amount and duration of maintenance, the issue is basically the recipient's need balanced against the obligor's financial condition. Erlandson, 318 N.W.2d at 39-40. The district court must issue "sufficiently detailed findings of fact to demonstrate its consideration of all factors relevant to an award." Stich v. Stich, 435 N.W.2d 52, 53 (Minn. 1989).

Parks claims that the district court failed to make appropriate findings to support an award of maintenance. We disagree. A review of the findings of fact, conclusions of law, and order for judgment reveals sufficiently detailed findings to support the maintenance order. Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 1. As to the amount and duration of the maintenance award, the district court properly considered all the relevant factors. Minn. Stat. § 518.552, subd. 2.

4. The allowance of attorney fees rests almost entirely in the district court's discretion. Solon v. Solon, 255 N.W.2d 395, 397 (Minn. 1977). The district court made appropriate findings regarding its award of attorney fees. Minn. Stat. § 518.14, subd. 1 (1994); Courey v. Courey, 524 N.W.2d 469, 473 (Minn. App. 1994) (order for attorney fees "must be accompanied by appropriate findings"). The district court did not abuse its discretion in the amount of attorney fees awarded.

Parks argues that he is entitled to a "setoff" against the award of attorney fees due to the district court's error in awarding him less that his share of the marital property. Attorney fees for the dissolution are not part of the marital estate. Filkins v. Filkins, 347 N.W.2d 526, 529 (Minn. App. 1984). And, as previously stated, the district court's division of the marital property was fair and equitable.