This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).




In Re the Marriage of:

Donald James Hayle, petitioner,



Mary Eileen Hayle,


Filed January 21, 1997


Norton, Judge

Washington County District Court

File No. F8-94-3251

Kevin K. Shoeberg, Eckberg, Lammers, Briggs, Wolff & Vierling, P.L.L.P., 1835 Northwestern Avenue, Stillwater, MN 55082 (for Appellant)

Esther M. Lerman, McLagan & Lerman, P.A., 2025 Centre Pointe Boulevard, Suite 260, Mendota Heights, MN 55120 (for Respondent)

Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Huspeni, Judge, and Norton, Judge.



Appellant contends the trial court abused its discretion when it denied his motion to modify spousal maintenance. The trial court properly denied the modification, because appellant failed to produce the necessary documentation to prove that his circumstances had changed. We affirm.


The court dissolved the 28-year marriage of appellant Donald Hayle and respondent Mary Hayle in July 1995. Based upon the financial circumstances at the time of dissolution, the court ordered appellant to pay respondent $1,500 in monthly spousal maintenance. Appellant seeks to reduce this obligation, because he lost his former job and has now taken a job where he claims to earn substantially less money.

The award of spousal maintenance generally rests within the trial court's discretion. Erlandson v. Erlandson, 318 N.W.2d 36, 38 (Minn. 1982). The court will modify the maintenance award only if the moving party, here appellant, shows both a substantial change in circumstances and the unfairness of the existing maintenance obligation. Tuthill v. Tuthill, 399 N.W.2d 230, 232 (Minn. App. 1987); Minn. Stat. § 518.64, subd. 2 (1996). Appellant needed to present clear proof that his circumstances have changed significantly since the original decree. Wiese v. Wiese, 295 N.W.2d 371, 372 (Minn. 1980).

Appellant contends he met this burden by proving that his earnings from his present employment have substantially decreased by 29 percent from his income at the time of the dissolution. We disagree. Appellant's documentation does not establish clear proof. He presented three pay stubs from working a portion of December 1995 and a portion of January 1996. These pay stubs do not create a complete picture of appellant's financial circumstances at the time he moved for modification.

Appellant argues that he did not have ample time to collect evidence, because he needed to bring the motion early in order to preserve the court's jurisdiction to modify from that date. See Minn. Stat. § 518.64, subd. 2(c) (allowing retroactive modification only during period when motion was pending, beginning with date of notice of motion). Even though appellant brought his motion in January, however, he had until the March hearing date to produce evidence of his changed circumstances. He should have been able to present his January and February commission check pay stubs. At the very least, appellant could have obtained access to information from his employer regarding his commission for January and February. As the record stands, it contains partial monthly earnings and partial monthly commissions. This documentation requires the court to speculate about appellant's financial circumstances. When a party seeking modification provides inadequate documentation, the court will not speculate and the party cannot complain if the court refuses to modify the decree. Tuthill, 399 N.W.2d at 232.

Appellant also claims that his expenses have increased, because the court allocated the parties' debts to him in the judgment and decree. That argument is not persuasive, however, because the court took the parties' tax debts into account when calculating appellant's expenses for purposes of setting spousal maintenance. The monthly expense sheet, that appellant submitted on his motion for modification, listed a $500 budget item for food and $470 for transportation, which is separate from his $205 car insurance line item. Appellant also claims $100 in-home maintenance expenses, even though he rents his living quarters. The court noted, and the record shows, that appellant receives a $300 car allowance from his employer to cover his $315 car payment. The trial court had the discretion to determine appellant's reasonable expenses. See Maeder v. Maeder, 480 N.W.2d 677, 680 (Minn. App. 1992) (affirming modification and determining that court's finding of wife's reasonable expenses was proper exercise of discretion), review denied (Minn. Mar. 19, 1992). We see no abuse of discretion here.

Appellant also contends the trial court failed to make the necessary findings to support its denial of the modification. The trial court's findings reflect its consideration of appellant's current and former earnings and expenses, as well as those of respondent. These findings reflect the court's consideration of the statutory factors for modification. When, as here, the court found that the moving party failed to present clear proof of a substantial change of circumstances, it did not need to make findings on other statutory factors. Tuthill, 399 N.W.2d at 232. The trial court properly denied the motion to modify maintenance, because appellant failed to meet his burden of proving that his circumstances had changed substantially.

Respondent concedes that the trial court made one erroneous finding regarding her income. In finding six, the court found that respondent earned a "net" monthly income of $1,242 at the time of dissolution, but that figure was actually her "gross" monthly income. That error is harmless, however, because it does not "affect the substantial rights of the parties." Minn. R. Civ. P. 61 (court ignores harmless error).