Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Boone County, Carl D. Baker, Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Doyle, P.J.
Tammy Boyd appeals from the economic provisions of the decree dissolving her marriage to Bryan Boyd. AFFIRMED AS MODIFIED.
Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.
Tammy Boyd appeals from the economic provisions of the decree dissolving her twenty-one-year marriage to Bryan Boyd. She challenges the district court's handling of a large tract of farmland inherited by Bryan during the marriage, as well as the court's failure to award her more spousal support and trial attorney fees. We believe equity demands Tammy be awarded a portion of the appreciation in value of the farmland. Further, we find the award of spousal support was too low. We modify the decree accordingly.
I. Background Facts and Proceedings.
Bryan and Tammy Boyd were married for the first time in 1990. They divorced in September 1995, reconciled, and remarried two months later. They have two children together, only one of whom is still a minor.
Bryan filed a petition to dissolve his second marriage to Tammy in September 2010. Prior to the October 2011 trial on the petition, the parties agreed to share joint legal custody and physical care of their minor child. They disagreed on the division of their property, spousal support, and attorney fees.
For much of the parties' marriage, forty-two-year old Bryan was employed by a corporation as a department manager. He left that employment in June 2010 amid talks of cutbacks and took a job with a different corporation as a production manager. His current gross annual salary is $72,000, plus a discretionary maximum annual bonus of $6000. Bryan is reimbursed by his employer for the monthly cost of his family health insurance premiums. He also recently started contributing to an IRA after cashing out a 401(k) account from his prior employment.
Tammy, who was also forty-two years old at the time of the trial, was employed by Iowa State University as a secretary from 1989 until 2002. During her last full year of employment there, she grossed $28,963 and contributed to a retirement account, which was valued at $88,118 at the time of the trial. Tammy testified she quit her job at Iowa State in order to devote more time to the couple's school-age children. She subsequently secured part-time employment as a teacher at a preschool, where she expected to gross $5460 in 2011. Tammy planned to quit this job and attend school full-time to obtain a degree in elementary education. She testified that she would not be able to work while going to school because she suffers from diabetes, which is worsened by stress. She also suffers from asthma, hyperthyroidism, and depression, though she considered herself to be in good health. Her estimated monthly medical expenses total between $750 and $800.*fn1
The parties' views of their lifestyle during the marriage differed. Bryan testified they lived paycheck to paycheck, while Tammy said they enjoyed a "[d]ecent middle class" way of life. After remarrying in 1995, the parties had a mobile home repossessed by the bank and a house that was foreclosed on. Tammy filed for bankruptcy in 2002. Bryan did not join in the bankruptcy because of an inheritance he received from his grandfather in 1995.
Bryan's grandfather left him approximately 346 acres of farmland, which included a home, several outbuildings, and grain bins. About 216 acres were rentable cropland, and the remaining portion was timber, buildings, and the homesite. Bryan's grandmother held a life estate in the property until her death in 2004. After she passed away, Bryan and Tammy decided to move into the forty-year-old house on the farm. They secured a loan on the previously debt-free property to finance their renovation of the house and pay inheritance taxes of $53,700. They also used loan proceeds to purchase a vehicle for Tammy, as well as furniture and appliances for the house. The farm was appraised at $770,000 in October 2004. Bryan makes annual payments of $31,110 out of the $42,055 in yearly cash rent he receives for the farmland. $339,883 was still owed on the loan at the time of trial. The land, house, and buildings were appraised at approximately $2,428,000 as of October 2011.
In its decree dissolving the parties' marriage, the district court set the inherited property aside to Bryan and denied Tammy's request for a $500,000 cash equalization payment. The court reasoned that although Tammy agreed
Bryan should retain the farm as his separate property . . . she is, in effect, requesting that the Court order Bryan to incur further debt on the farm or sell a portion of the farm in order to pay her $500,000. The financial circumstances of the parties are such that there is no other way that Bryan could pay Tammy $500,000. Tammy makes the indirect argument that the farm or a portion thereof should in fact be regarded as marital property given the amount of money that she seeks. The farm is not marital property and shall be awarded to Bryan. Aside from the farm inherited by Bryan, the parties own personal property valued at approximately $160,000. Over half of this amount is Tammy's TIAA-CREF account valued at $88,000 which she will receive.
This Court concludes that Bryan shall pay Tammy the sum of $25,000 as a lump sum property settlement payable within 90 days ...