This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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




Elizabeth L. Otis, petitioner,



William H. Otis,


Filed January 28, 1997


Schumacher, Judge

Dakota County District Court

File No. F9952164

Stephen M. Meisinger, David A. Jaehne, Meisinger and Meisinger, 60 East Marie, Suite 109, West St. Paul, MN 55118 (for Respondent)

William H. Otis, 131 Morris Northwest, New Brighton, MN 55112 (Appellant Pro Se)

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



William H. Otis (husband) appeals the judgment and decree of the trial court, arguing the court erred in valuing marital property and in awarding respondent Elizabeth L. Otis (wife) a greater share of marital property. We affirm.


Husband and wife were married 32 years. Husband is a certified public accountant who valued his accounting business at $28,000. The trial court found that husband also conducts business under the name "Horizons" and is apparently involved in the purchase of a steel mill. The court found that husband's yearly income is unclear because his tax returns do not accurately represent his income. Wife's monthly net income is about $1,225 from Shriners Hospitals and another $110 from part-time work at Bachman's.

The trial court found that the parties' homestead has a value of $89,000 and that husband has a one-third premarital interest in the homestead, or about $30,000. The parties have real estate in Mille Lacs County, valued by the trial court at $14,500, and an interest worth $15,000 in a contract for deed in Polk County, Wisconsin. Other major assets include a mobile home, valued at $6,500, and wife's profit-sharing plan, valued at $3,000.

Wife was awarded the homestead, her profit-sharing plan, and her insurance policy. Wife was made responsible for the parties' $10,000 debt to wife's mother. The court awarded husband the Mille Lacs County property, the interest in the Polk County contract for deed, the mobile home, his accounting business, the Horizons business, and his insurance policy.

The trial court found that husband's conduct and failure to produce documents significantly increased wife's attorney fees. Husband failed to (1) comply with discovery orders, (2) attend pretrial hearings, and (3) appear at scheduled motion hearings. The trial court concluded that husband should be responsible for wife's attorney fees and stated that wife was therefore awarded sufficient property to pay her attorney fees and costs. The court also stated that "the property division is fair and equitable although not even as [wife] needs the property in lieu of spousal maintenance."


1. An appellate court will not reverse a trial court's valuation of an asset unless it is "clearly erroneous on the record as a whole." Hertz v. Hertz, 304 Minn. 144, 145, 229 N.W.2d 42, 44 (1975). An appellate court does not require the trial court to be exact in its valuation of assets; "'it is only necessary that the value arrived at lies within a reasonable range of figures.'" Johnson v. Johnson, 277 N.W.2d 208, 211 (Minn. 1979) (quoting Hertz, 304 Minn. at 145, 229 N.W.2d at 44).

Husband contends the trial court erred in valuing marital assets. He claims the homestead is worth more than $89,000. He says the figure used by the trial court is merely the county's assessed value and does not reflect the fair market value. While husband makes comparisons to other properties, he offers no competent documentary evidence or expert testimony about the home's fair market value.

Husband argues the Polk County contract for deed is worthless, but he does not point to any evidence in the record to support his contention. Husband challenges the trial court's valuation of his accounting business, but he apparently testified to this value himself.[1] Husband further claims that Horizons is a "customer," not an asset. There is virtually no evidence in the record before us regarding Horizons and we cannot say that the trial court erred by characterizing the business as an asset. Husband contends the mobile home is encumbered by a lien or mortgage and was acquired after the valuation date, but again, husband points to no evidence to support his contention. Finally, husband argues that a car awarded to him needed repairs and was abandoned to a mechanic. The evidence indicates that husband received the bill for the car repairs after the dissolution judgment and decree was entered. We conclude that husband failed to meet his burden of showing that the trial court's findings are clearly erroneous.

2. A trial court has broad discretion in dividing property and we will not reverse its decision absent an abuse of discretion. Rutten v. Rutten, 347 N.W.2d 47, 50 (Minn. 1984). We must affirm a property division "if it had an acceptable basis in fact and principle." Servin v. Servin, 345 N.W.2d 754, 758 (Minn. 1984).

It is difficult to ascertain the overall value of the parties' marital property because husband failed to provide full disclosure of his assets, earnings, and financial status. It appears wife received a greater share of marital property, but because the trial court was unable to place a value on the Horizons business, we cannot be certain that wife received a greater share. We conclude husband did not meet his burden of showing a clear abuse of discretion by the trial court. Furthermore, given husband's conduct and the trial court's finding that wife's monthly expenses are greater than her income, we find no error with the trial court's decision to award wife a greater share of property in lieu of spousal maintenance. See Reynolds v. Reynolds, 498 N.W.2d 266, 270-71 (Minn. App. 1993) (upholding disproportionate award of marital property in favor of wife based on fact that but for husband's sporadic employment and low earnings, wife would receive greater maintenance). Wife's request for attorney fees on appeal is denied.


[ ]1 Husband provided only limited excerpts from the trial transcript, making our review difficult. See Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 110.02 (appellant shall order transcript of those parts of proceedings not already part of record that are deemed necessary for inclusion in record).