Appeal from the District Court of Nelson County, Northeast Central Judicial District, the Honorable Karen Kosanda Braaten, Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kapsner, Justice.
This opinion is subject to petition for rehearing. [Go to Documents]
[Download as WordPerfect] Dissent filed.
Opinion of the Court by Kapsner, Justice.
Nuveen v. NuveenNo. 20100134
[¶1] Michiel James Nuveen appealed a district court judgment awarding Elizabeth Ann Nuveen $7,500 per month in permanent spousal support. Michiel Nuveen asserts the district court erred in setting the amount and duration of the spousal support award. Elizabeth Nuveen cross-appealed, arguing the district court was clearly erroneous in accepting Michiel Nuveen's expert's valuation of his orthodontia practice, and the court was clearly erroneous in not equalizing the parties' incomes through spousal support. We conclude the district court did not err in its findings on the value of Michiel Nuveen's orthodontia practice, did not err in awarding permanent spousal support, and did not err in awarding $7,500 per month in spousal support. We affirm the judgment.
[¶2] Michiel Nuveen and Elizabeth Nuveen were married in July 1991 and divorced in October 2007. The parties have three children aged sixteen, thirteen, and eleven years old at the time of the trial. Michiel Nuveen is an orthodontist in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and his practice is organized as an S Corporation of which he is the sole shareholder. Elizabeth Nuveen has not been employed since 1996. The parties stipulated to many of the divorce provisions, but reserved for trial the issues of the value of Michiel Nuveen's orthodontia practice, property division, and the amount and duration of spousal support. Michiel Nuveen and Elizabeth Nuveen each had an expert witness testify on valuation methods and the value of Michiel Nuveen's orthodontia practice. Michiel Nuveen's accountant testified on how Michiel Nuveen receives income from his orthodontia practice and testified generally on how an S Corporation operates. The parties also testified. After a five-day trial, the district court made findings on the value of the orthodontia practice, relying mostly on Michiel Nuveen's expert's valuation, and divided the parties' property. The district court awarded Elizabeth Nuveen $7,500 per month in permanent spousal support after finding there would be a future substantial disparity in the parties' incomes, and rehabilitative spousal support and the property division would not remedy the disparity.
[¶3] An award of spousal support is a finding of fact, and this Court will not set aside an award of spousal support on appeal unless it was clearly erroneous. Duff v. Kearns-Duff, 2010 ND 247, ¶ 13, 792 N.W.2d 916. "A finding of fact is clearly erroneous if it is induced by an erroneous view of the law, if there is no evidence to support it, or if, after a review of the entire record, we are left with a definite and firm conviction a mistake has been made." Id. A district court must consider the relevant factors under the Ruff-Fischer guidelines in determining whether an award of spousal support is appropriate. Id. at ¶ 14; see Fischer v. ...