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In re Marriage of Valente

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 1

March 10, 2014

In the Matter of the Marriage of Daniel Valente, Appellant, and Fukiko Valente, Respondent

Oral Argument January 14, 2014.

Appeal from King County Superior Court. Docket No: 11-3-02827-9. Date filed: 07/27/2012. Judge signing: Honorable Christopher a Washington.

Jeffrey L. Barth ; and Catherine Wright Smith and Valerie A Villacin (of Smith Goodfriend PS ), for appellant.

Kathleen R. Sanders and Patricia S. Novotny, for respondent.

AUTHOR: James Verellen, J. WE CONCUR: Michael S. Spearman, A.C.J., C. Kenneth Grosse, J.

OPINION

Page 116

Verellen, J.

[179 Wn.App. 819] ¶ 1 A trial court has broad discretion to award maintenance to address the medical needs of a spouse, but reserving jurisdiction to revisit maintenance if the disease worsens is problematic. When the trial court finds only that a spouse " may" incur future medical expenses [179 Wn.App. 820] and rehabilitation costs, it is an abuse of discretion to make a " placeholder" award of nominal maintenance in order to reserve jurisdiction.

¶ 2 Here, the trial court awarded Fukiko Valente (Nao) nominal maintenance of $100 per month from the time she turns 72 years old until the death of either party or her remarriage. The sole purpose of this award was to extend jurisdiction over the parties should her multiple sclerosis (MS) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) deteriorate, resulting in increased expenses. Especially in the absence of any findings that her medical conditions were likely to deteriorate or that her costs were likely to increase, this award was an abuse of discretion and must be reversed. We affirm the remainder of the maintenance award and the property division because they were within the trial court's discretion. Additionally, we decline to award attorney fees on appeal.

FACTS

¶ 3 Daniel Valente (Dan) and Nao married in Japan in 1985.[1] During their marriage, Dan started a very successful business, Naodan Chartering Inc. (Naodan). Nao primarily stayed home and raised their two children. In 2005, Nao was diagnosed with MS and RA.

¶ 4 Dan petitioned for dissolution in April 2011. The main issues at trial were property distribution and maintenance. Although the parties agreed that Naodan should be awarded to Dan, they disagreed on the value of the

Page 117

business and each presented expert witnesses to support their respective valuations. Nao also presented evidence of her estimated future medical costs related to MS and RA in the form of a life care plan. She requested that as part of the property distribution, the trial court award her $468,531, the present value of her life care plan not covered by [179 ...


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