Grohmann v. Grohmann – Case Brief Summary (Wisconsin)

In Grohmann v. Grohmann (1993) 180 Wis.2d 690, husband was both the settlor and beneficiary under a discretionary trust.

Wife argued that 1) husband's undistributed trust income should be used in the calculation of child support, and 2) the trial court had authority to order payment of child support from the trust.

The Wisconsin Court of Appeal accepted wife's first argument, but ruled that her second argument was premature.

It stated that wife had not established that she was a judgment creditor, thus the court had no authority to order payment from the trust. ( Grohmann v. Grohmann, supra, 180 Wis.2d at p. 696.)

"Nothing in the statute section 701.06, subdivision (4)(b) authorizes a court to relieve trustees of their discretion over when a trust shall make payments to or on behalf of a beneficiary, or to substitute its own discretion for that of the trustees. Under the statute, the decision to distribute trust income remains with the trustees." ( Grohmann v. Grohmann, supra, 180 Wis.2d at p. 695.)

The Wisconsin Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the Court of Appeal. It concluded that wife's judgment creditor argument was premature because she had failed to show that husband had not met his support obligation. ( Grohmann v. Grohmann (1995) 189 Wis.2d 532, 539 525 N.W.2d 261.)