from the District Court of Grand Forks County, Northeast
Central Judicial District, the Honorable M. Jason McCarthy,
L. Hankey, Grand Forks, ND, for plaintiff and appellant.
P. Venhuizen, Grand Forks, ND, for defendant and appellee.
Yanjun Zuo appeals a district court judgment and
post-judgment orders awarding Yuanyuan Wang marital property,
spousal support, and primary residential responsibility of
the parties' minor child. Zuo argues the court erred in
its evidentiary decisions at trial, and erred in awarding
spousal support and primary residential responsibility to
Wang. He also argues the court erred in backdating child
support. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.
Zuo and Wang were married in Beijing, China in 1994 and have
one child. Zuo is a professor and researcher at the
University of North Dakota earning approximately $143, 400
annually. Wang had a well-paying job in Hong Kong where she
earned approximately $10, 000 per month. However, while
living in Grand Forks from 2008 to 2013, and from 2014 to the
present, she worked at various positions, earning between
$13.50 and $18 per hour.
Zuo sued for divorce in December 2016. The district court
entered an interim order in March 2017. The interim order was
based on the parties' stipulation and provided that in
lieu of child support, Zuo would pay all of the child's
daycare expenses. The issue of child support was reserved
The district court held a four-day bench trial in April and
May of 2018. At trial, the court admitted audio recordings of
communications between Zuo and Wang. Zuo recorded the
communications without Wang's knowledge. Zuo attempted to
introduce English translations of the recordings. Wang
objected and the court excluded the English translations of
In its findings of fact, conclusions of law, and order for
judgment issued after trial, the district court found Zuo
committed domestic violence against Wang and awarded Wang
primary residential responsibility of the child. The court
ordered Zuo to pay $1, 335 per month in child support
effective as of February 1, 2017. The court distributed the
parties' marital property and awarded Wang $1, 750 in
monthly spousal support for ten years.
Zuo argues the district court erred when it did not allow for
an English translation of the audio recordings he submitted
at trial. Zuo contends the recordings show Wang was abusive
A district court has wide discretion in evidentiary matters,
and we will not overturn a court's decision to admit or
exclude evidence unless the court abused its discretion.
Vandal v. Leno, 2014 ND 45, ¶ 26, 843 N.W.2d
313. A court abuses its discretion when it acts in an
arbitrary, unreasonable, or capricious manner, it
misinterprets or misapplies the law, or its decision is not
the product of a rational mental process leading to a
reasoned determination. Zundel v. Zundel, 2017 ND
217, ¶ 27, 901 N.W.2d 731.
The district court found Zuo recorded the interactions
between himself and Wang "in an effort to create
prejudicial evidence to introduce at trial." The court
explained its decision ...