[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
from the District Court of Cass County, East Central Judicial
District, the Honorable Thomas R. Olson, Judge.
A. Overboe, Fargo, ND, for plaintiff and appellee.
J. McLarnan, MN, for defendant and appellant.
J. Crothers, Dale V. Sandstrom, Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J.
Opinion of the Court by Crothers, Justice. Kapsner, Justice,
concurring in the result. Carol Ronning Kapsner. McEvers,
Justice, concurring specially.
J. Crothers, Justice.
[¶1] Barbara Degnan appeals from a district
court order denying her motion for amended findings of fact
and new trial following her divorce. Barbara Degnan argues
the district court erred when it divided the marital
property, awarded inadequate spousal support, allowed
testimony about comments made prior to marriage and refused
to amend its findings or grant her a new trial. Lowell Degnan
argues Barbara Degnan's appeal is frivolous and he should
be awarded attorneys fees.
[¶2] Barbara Degnan married Lowell Degnan in
2009. The parties were divorced by judgment in 2015. At the
time of trial Barbara Degnan was 55 years old and Lowell
Degnan was 65 years old. Lowell Degnan testified his monthly
living expenses were approximately $2,265 and his net monthly
income was approximately $3,471 from railroad retirement
benefits. Barbara Degnan's monthly living expenses were
approximately $2,200 and her monthly income, after taxes,
Medicare and debt garnishments, was a Social Security
Disability payment of approximately $750. Witness Tammy Shiek
testified, over objection, that her opinion was Barbara
Degnan married Lowell Degnan for his money.
[¶3] In determining the property
distribution the district court considered the length of the
marriage, the health and age of the parties, their earning
abilities and when their property was accumulated. The
district court awarded Barbara Degnan temporary spousal
support of $180 per month for 60 months, two motor vehicles,
a camper, her checking account and $3,000 in attorneys fees.
Following trial Barbara Degnan moved for a new trial and
amended findings. The district court denied Barbara
Degnan's motions and she appeals.
[¶4] Barbara Degnan argues the district
court erred permitting Shiek to testify about why Barbara
Degnan married Lowell Degnan. Shiek testified that prior to
the marriage she and Barbara Degnan discussed how marrying
Lowell Degnan would benefit Barbara Degnan because Barbara
Degnan was in need of health insurance. Shiek also testified
to her belief that Barbara Degnan married Lowell Degnan for
his money. Barbara Degnan objected to Shiek's testimony
as irrelevant and the district court overruled the objection.
" The test whether proper evidence is irrelevant is
whether it would
reasonably and actually tend to prove or disprove any matter
of fact in issue." Beck v. Lind, 235 N.W.2d
239, 246 (N.D.1975). Shiek's testimony tended to prove
Barbara Degnan's financial circumstances, health concerns
and her motive for marrying Lowell Degnan. The district
court, as the trier of fact, reasonably considered