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In Re the Marriage of Joseph Michael Nurre and Tara Tiffany Nurre

April 10, 2013

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF JOSEPH MICHAEL NURRE AND TARA TIFFANY NURRE UPON THE PETITION OF JOSEPH MICHAEL NURRE, PETITIONER-APPELLANT, AND CONCERNING TARA TIFFANY NURRE, RESPONDENT-APPELLEE.


Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Fae Hoover-Grinde, Judge.

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

Mike Nurre appeals from the spousal support provisions of the decree dissolving his marriage to Tara Nurre. AFFIRMED.

Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.

Joseph Michael (Mike) Nurre appeals from the spousal support provisions of the decree dissolving his marriage to Tara Tiffany Nurre. He contends it was inequitable to award Tara $500 per month in rehabilitative alimony for a period of four years. Tara requests an award of her appellate attorney fees.

Given Tara's physical restrictions and more limited earning ability, we find the court's award of alimony was equitable in its amount and duration. We award Tara $2000 in appellate attorney fees.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

Mike and Tara were married in June 2006, following three years of dating.

This is the second marriage for both parties. Mike has two teen-aged daughters from his first marriage for whom he pays $520 per month in child support. Tara has physical care of her son from her first marriage and receives seventy-five dollars in weekly child support payments from his father.

Mike was forty-two years old at the time of trial. He has an associate's degree in mechanical design from Kirkwood Community College that he earned in 1990. During the marriage, Mike was employed at Whirlpool Amana. He is also a musician and earns money playing approximately three performances per month. His gross earnings for 2011 were $73,241. Mike estimated his gross earnings for 2012 would be $74,049.

Tara's employment history has been much less consistent, in part due to her physical health. Tara suffers from degenerative disc disease, which causes her chronic neck pain and has, at times, limited her movement. Before the marriage, Tara received medical recommendations that she undergo surgery to fuse the vertebra in her neck. Because her father had a similar procedure that Tara believes compromised his quality of life, she resisted having the surgery and explored other options. But having a change of heart, in December 2010 Tara underwent the vertebrae fusion. While the surgery helped, Tara still experiences pain.

Tara has a high school diploma and is certified as a medical transcriptionist, though she testified that due to technological advancements, work is not longer available in that field. She also has taken online classes for medical billing and coding but had to stop because the computer she was using broke down. At the time of the marriage, Tara was a proofreader for Yellow Book, earning approximately $18,000 per year. When that job ended, she worked as a lunch director for an elementary school. Tara left that job after less than a year because it was too physically demanding.*fn1 She later worked part-time as a barista at Starbucks, but her hours were reduced due to the neck pain she experienced. After her surgery in December 2010, Tara asked for more hours, but none were available.

Tara went on to work at a number of temporary positions obtained through different placement agencies. She held one full-time position from July 2011 through December 2011, earning $12.01 per hour. In January 2012, she began working full-time at Aegon, proofreading life insurance policies for $10.51 per hour. That position was scheduled to last until April 2012. Tara also worked the door at a bar in Iowa City, every other Saturday night, earning fifty dollars per night.

In January of 2005, Mike purchased a lot on which to build a home. Tara helped pick out the lot. Mike made a $5094.60 down payment and obtained a $158,000 mortgage to build the home. At the time of dissolution, he owed $141,030.54 on the mortgage. A second mortgage on the property had a balance of $13,322.48. The parties did a good deal of the finishing work on the home, including staining the woodwork and painting the interiors.

Mike filed a petition for dissolution on March 14, 2011. The court heard testimony on March 22, 2012. In the joint pretrial statement, Tara requested an award of $750 per month in rehabilitative alimony, payable for a period of forty-eight months. At trial, Tara ...


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