Law School Case Brief
Kucera v. Kucera - 275 Minn. 252, 146 N.W.2d 181 (1966)
In actions for divorce the trial court has been given a broad discretion in determining awards relative to property, alimony, and support money. It is not within the province of the court to determine issues of fact on appeal. Thus, an award of alimony and support money or an adjudication as to property rights will be overturned by the court only when in the light of the evidence as a whole the trial court has clearly abused its discretion. This rule applies even though the court might make a different determination upon the facts if it had the factfinding function.
The wife filed for divorce which the trial court granted, even awarding the wife, alimony, permanent child custody, and child support payments in the amount of $200 per month for a period of 3 years, and $100 per month until the child reaches 21 years old. The trial court’s decision was based on the husband’s yearly salary over a period of two years. The wife still appealed the decision, particularly the amount of child support payments for their minor child. The wife also asserted that the trial court erred when it failed to require that the husband's estate provide support payments for the child in the event of the husband's death. Finally, the wife argued that the trial court erred when it awarded $ 200 per month in alimony payments for a period of three years instead of an indefinite period or until the wife remarried.
Did the trial court abused its discretion in fixing the amount of alimony and child support?
The court affirmed and found that because the husband's average yearly salary over a period of two years was approximately $ 5000, the award of child support was not an abuse of the trial court's discretion under Minn. Stat. § 518.57. The court found no abuse of discretion in the alimony award under Minn. Stat. § 518.60, and found that the record contained evidence of the parties' conduct and other fact issues upon which the trial court made its decision. The court noted that in awarding alimony and child support, the needs of the wife as well as the income of the husband had to be taken into account. The court found that the trial court's refusal to grant child support from the husband's estate in the event of his premature death was based on the fact that the child would have been eligible for social security benefits equal to the award of child support payments.
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