In re the Marriage of: Trudy Erlemeier, petitioner, Respondent,
Steven Erlemeier, Appellant.
St. Louis County District Court File No. 69DUFA071055.
Terry A. Trogdon, Gerlach, Beaumier & Trogdon, L.L.P., Duluth, Minnesota (for respondent)
Susan A. Daudelin, Mackall, Crounse & Moore, P.L.C., Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge; Schellhas, Judge; and Stauber, Judge.
In this convoluted, extended and multiple-attorney marital-dissolution dispute, appellant-husband argues that (1) the district court abused its discretion by reserving jurisdiction over spousal maintenance where neither party required maintenance or appeared to have a future need; (2) that the property division was inequitable where it is based, in part, on errors regarding husband's disposition of his retirement accounts and other assets, and on disparate treatment of husband and wife regarding their use of assets; and (3) that the district court failed to make adequate findings of fact to support its award of attorney fees to respondent-wife. Because we conclude the district court did not abuse its discretion by reserving maintenance, we affirm in part; however, because we conclude that the evidence did not support the district court's findings regarding the allocation of debt and assets, and the award of attorney fees, we reverse in part and remand.
Trudy Erlemeier (wife) and Steven Erlemeier (husband) were married on February 14, 1999. At the time of the marriage wife was widowed, and had three children. Husband was previously married and divorced, and similarly had three children. Husband was employed as a neurologist, and wife as a nurse. When the parties married, husband sold his house and moved into wife's house. Significant improvements were made to wife's house. In 2002, wife left her employment to stay home and raise the six children.
The parties separated in October 2007, and in November 2007 wife petitioned for divorce. Around the same time, husband began working part-time, and wife took a part-time job as a nurse. By May 2008, wife was again working full-time as a nurse practitioner. In October 2008, husband lost his job following a mental-health crisis, and his medical license was suspended. Husband collected severance pay for a year, then began to receive unemployment benefits and drew money from his retirement accounts. In 2009, the parties stopped making home-mortgage payments and foreclosure ensued.
A trial was ultimately held on February 23 and 24, 2011. The district court issued its judgment and decree on May 10, 2011. The district court awarded husband his individual property and most of the value of his retirement accounts, which by this time had been largely depleted. The district court also allocated the residual debt on homestead liens to husband. Wife was awarded the value of her retirement accounts, husband's certificate of deposit accounts, and was allocated her separate debts. The district court ordered husband to pay to wife an equity balancing payment of $126, 000. The district court found that neither party was dependent on the other, but reserved the issue of spousal maintenance.
In June, 2011, husband brought a post-trial motion seeking amended findings or a new trial, and requesting spousal maintenance. The district court denied husband's request, and ordered husband to pay $750 to wife for her costs and attorney fees in responding to husband's motion.