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Van Klootwyk v. Van Klootwyk

563 N.W.2d 377 (1997)

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Van Klootwyk v. Van Klootwyk

North Dakota Supreme Court

563 N.W.2d 377 (1997)

Facts

Michelle L. Van Klootwyk (defendant) and Robert J. Van Klootwyk (plaintiff) were married for approximately 28 years and had two children together. During the marriage, Robert worked in the radio industry, which required the family to move approximately 28 times. Michelle primarily stayed home to care for the children and occasionally worked odd jobs to support the family. During the final years of the marriage, Michelle went back to school to obtain her bachelor’s degree in nursing. The day after Michelle graduated, she began working as a nurse earning $30,000 per year. In 1991, the Van Klootwyks separated because of Robert’s extramarital affair, his alcohol consumption, and his violent behavior. At the time of the separation, the Klootwyks owned few assets and had filed for bankruptcy. In 1994, Michelle pursued a nurse practitioner degree. At the time of the divorce proceedings in 1996, evidence was introduced that Michelle’s undergraduate degree had cost $20,000, which was mostly paid for through marital funds and student loans. Michelle testified that she would owe approximately $32,000 in student loans when she graduated from the nurse-practitioner program and that she had incurred a debt of $18,000. Michelle further testified that as a nurse practitioner she could earn up to $55,000. Robert testified that he earned a yearly salary of $76,000. The court granted the divorce decree and ordered that Michelle was responsible for her educational debt. Additionally, the court denied Michelle’s request for rehabilitative spousal support on the ground that she was not disadvantaged by the divorce because she had obtained education, had an adequate salary, and was self-supporting. Michelle appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Maring, J.)

Concurrence (Neumann, J.)

Dissent (Sandstrom, J.)

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