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Krueger v. Krueger

Supreme Court of North Dakota

December 19, 2013

Shirley KRUEGER, Plaintiff and Appellee
v.
Albert KRUEGER, Defendant and Appellant.

Page 614

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 615

Micheal A. Mulloy (argued) and David R. Bliss (appeared), Bismarck, N.D., for plaintiff and appellee.

Thomas M. Jackson, Bismarck, N.D., for defendant and appellant.

MARING, Justice.

[¶ 1] Albert Krueger appeals from trial court orders finding him in contempt of court for willfully failing to pay his spousal support obligation to Shirley Krueger and denying his motion to modify the divorce judgment. We conclude the trial court did not err in refusing to eliminate Albert Krueger's spousal support obligation, did not err in finding Albert Krueger in contempt of court for failing to pay his court-ordered spousal support, and did not err in admitting evidence regarding alleged physical limitations imposed upon his ability to work. We affirm.

I

[¶ 2] Albert Krueger and Shirley Krueger were married in 1970, and they were divorced in 2007. In the divorce judgment, the trial court awarded Shirley Krueger permanent spousal support in the amount of $1,500 per month for ten years and $1,000 per month thereafter until she died or remarried. Albert Krueger appealed the judgment, and this Court affirmed, upholding the spousal support award. Krueger v. Krueger, 2008 ND 90, ¶¶ 6-12, 748 N.W.2d 671.

[¶ 3] In April 2012, Shirley Krueger moved the trial court for an order to show cause for contempt and for an award of attorney's fees. In her motion, she alleged Albert Krueger had failed to comply with the provisions of their 2007 divorce judgment, a 2008 order finding him in contempt of court, and the parties' 2009 stipulation, because he had not paid her spousal support for a number of months in 2011 and 2012. Albert Krueger responded to her motion and moved for modification of his spousal support obligation. Albert Krueger asserted that he was not in contempt of court because he was simply unable

Page 616

to pay the ordered spousal support and his spousal support obligation should be terminated based on his diminished income and his deteriorating health condition, including a 2011 implantation of a pacemaker and a diagnosis of diabetes.

[¶ 4] After an evidentiary hearing on the parties' motions, the court found Albert Krueger in contempt of court for willfully failing to pay his spousal support obligation and denied his motion to modify the divorce judgment. The court held Albert Krueger owed spousal support payments for nineteen and one-half months " ( 1/2 of August 2011 to March 2013) at the rate of $1500 per month," for a total arrearage of $29,250. The court ordered Albert Krueger to immediately resume paying Shirley Krueger spousal support of $1,500 per month, plus an additional $1,000 each month to be applied to the arrearage. The court also ordered him to pay Shirley Krueger $1,000 in attorney's fees.

II

[¶ 5] Albert Krueger argues the trial court erred in refusing to eliminate his spousal support obligation. Shirley Krueger responds that the court did not err in denying his motion to terminate her permanent spousal support award because he failed to show a material change in circumstances.

[¶ 6] Section 14-05-24.1, N.D.C.C., provides: " Taking into consideration the circumstances of the parties, the court may require one party to pay spousal support to the other party for any period of time. The court may modify its spousal support orders." Under N.D.C.C. § 14-05-24.1, a trial court retains jurisdiction to modify spousal support awarded in an original divorce judgment. Our standard for ...


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