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In Re the Marriage of Glenda R. Lovrien and Keith Alan Lovrien

March 13, 2013


Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Butler County, Christopher C. Foy, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bower, J.

Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.

Keith Lovrien appeals from the child custody and economic provisions of the decree dissolving his marriage to Glenda Lovrien. He contends he should be granted physical care of the parties' minor children. He also contends the property distribution is inequitable. Finally, Keith contends the court erred in awarding Glenda trial attorney fees. Glenda requests an award of her appellate attorney fees.

Because Glenda has shown a greater ability to minister to the children's best interests, we find the district court properly granted her physical care of the children. We also find the property distribution is equitable. While we affirm the district court's award of trial attorney fees, we decline to award Glenda her appellate attorney fees.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

Keith and Glenda were married on July 17, 1982. They have four children: Megan, born in 1988; Danica, born in 1992; Mason, born in 1995; and Adam, born in 1999.

In 1983, the parties moved to Minnesota and lived in the Minneapolis area. Keith worked as a computer programmer. Glenda completed a two-year program and became a certified radiologic technician. Glenda was a full-time homemaker from 1996 until June of 2009.

In 1988, the parties purchased eighty acres of farmland in Butler County, and began growing corn and soybeans. Keith returned to Iowa on the weekends and performed the field work. In 1999, the family moved to Iowa after purchasing an eighteen-acre farmstead in Butler County. Keith continued working as a computer programmer in the Minneapolis area, working there three to five days per week, depending on the job. Keith stopped working as a computer programmer in 2008 and began living in Iowa full-time.

Over the years, the parties continued to purchase farmland. At the time of the dissolution, they owned approximately 910 acres of farmland in Butler and Floyd Counties.

Glenda maintains that Keith was verbally abusive to her during the marriage. On March 20, 2009, an argument between Keith and Glenda escalated and Keith punched Glenda in the face three times. Keith was arrested for domestic abuse assault and pled guilty to serious misdemeanor assault. Glenda filed a petition seeking relief from domestic abuse pursuant to Iowa Code section 236.3 (2009). On April 8, 2009, the parties agreed to a protective order; Glenda was given physical care of the children and remained on the farmstead, while Keith moved to an apartment in Nashua and received regular visitation with the children. The order also provided Keith was only to be on the farmstead when necessary to perform work and was prohibited from having direct contact with Glenda. The order was formally cancelled on October 31, 2011.

In August 2011, Glenda and the children moved to a home in Clarksville. At that time, Keith returned to the farmstead.

On February 5, 2010, Glenda filed a petition to dissolve the parties' marriage. A hearing was held in November 2011. On May 31, 2012, the district court entered the decree dissolving the marriage. It granted Glenda physical care of the parties' two minor children subject to Keith's visitation rights. As to the marital property, the court awarded Keith roughly half of the real estate, including the farmstead, as well as several vehicles. Glenda was awarded the other half of the real estate, several investment and retirement accounts, and her vehicle. The court divided the grain in storage between the parties. The court calculated the net worth awarded to Keith to be $3,381,847 and the net worth of property awarded to Glenda to be $3,049,127. Finally, it awarded Glenda $10,000 in trial attorney fees.

Both parties filed post-trial motions asking the court to revisit its fact findings and modify its ruling. The court denied the motions. Keith filed a timely notice of appeal.

II. Scope and Standard of Review.

We review dissolution cases de novo. In re Marriage of Becker, 756 N.W.2d 822, 824 (Iowa 2008). We give weight to the district court's findings of fact, although we are not bound by them. Id.

III. Child Custody.

Keith first contends the district court erred in granting physical care of the parties' minor children to Glenda. He argues he can provide the children with the environment that will most likely bring ...

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