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In re Marriage of Stark

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 27, 1995

In re the MARRIAGE OF Rosalie B. STARK and Larry M. Stark Upon the Petition of Rosalie B. Stark, Appellee, And Concerning Larry M. Stark, Appellant.

Page 261

C. Carleton Frederici and Patricia A. Shoff of Davis, Hockenburg, Wine, Brown, Koehn & Shors, P.C., Des Moines, for appellant.

James L. Kramer and Neven J. Mulholland of Johnson, Erb, Bice & Carlson, P.C., Fort Dodge, for appellee.

Heard by HAYDEN, P.J., and HABHAB and HUITINK, JJ.

HAYDEN, Presiding Judge.

Larry and Rosalie Stark were married on September 27, 1958. They had three children, all of whom have reached the age of majority. Both Larry and Rosalie were fifty-five years of age at the time of trial. They had been married approximately thirty-five years.

Larry has a high school degree and one year of college. He has been employed as an assistant engineer for Hamilton County for over thirty years. Larry currently earns $1035 net every two weeks, or approximately $41,000 per year. He also has a side business, Stark Land Surveying, from which he earns approximately $6500 per year. Larry is in good health.

Rosalie also has a high school education and one year of college. Rosalie has worked outside the home during the marriage. She taught preschool from 1972 until 1985. From 1985 until 1988 she operated a gift shop in Webster City, and from 1988 until 1993 Rosalie owned and operated a floral shop. After the parties separated, Rosalie moved to Fort Worth, Texas, where she currently works for Neiman-Marcus. She earns five dollars per hour plus a six percent commission. Her anticipated net income from Neiman-Marcus is $8341.19 per year. This projected income, however, does not include commissions. Rosalie herself claims she has the potential to earn almost double her current income. Although Rosalie has had several skin cancers removed and surgery for precancerous polyps, her job provides health insurance.

During the marriage, Larry and Rosalie accumulated considerable debt, much of which came from Rosalie's floral business. In total, the parties owed approximately $78,000. After their separation, Larry agreed to assume all of the marital debt. The floral business was sold on contract for $42,500, and the parties agreed Rosalie would receive the contract payments of $360 per month, plus the balloon payment of $17,978.48 due June 1, 2004.

Prior to trial, the parties stipulated as to the division of marital property. Because Larry agreed to assume all marital debts, Larry was awarded the homestead valued at $85,000 and having $57,000 equity, a 1988 Suburban valued at $14,000, a boat valued at $7500, a trailer valued at $1000, his IPERS account valued at $48,095, and various other items, for a total of $168,595. Pursuant to the stipulation, Larry was to pay Rosalie a $10,000 cash settlement. Besides receiving the monthly contract payments, the $17,978.48 balloon payment, and $10,000 in cash, Rosalie was also awarded a Suburban truck valued at $11,000 free of all debt.

The district court ordered Larry to pay Rosalie $725 per month alimony until the year 2004, at which time the amount would be reduced to $500 per month until death or remarriage. Larry was also ordered to pay $705 towards Rosalie's attorney fees. Larry has appealed.

Larry argues the district court erred in awarding Rosalie $725 per month alimony. He states, because he agreed to assume all the marital debt, his debt service amounts to $2400 per month, not including alimony. He further states, combined with his car payments, he would have only $200 left to pay all other monthly expenses including alimony. He requests the alimony be reduced to $500 per month until the year 2004, at which time the award would be further reduced to $250

Page 262

per month. Rosalie maintains Larry should sell some of his assets to lower his debt service allowing him to make the alimony payments.

I. Standard of Review.

In this equity action, our review is de novo. Iowa R.App.P. 4. We have a duty to examine the entire record and adjudicate anew rights on the issues properly presented. In re Marriage of Steenhoek,305 N.W.2d 448, 452 (Iowa 1981). We give weight to the fact findings of the trial court, especially when considering ...


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