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In Re the Marriage of Jeri R.

April 10, 2013

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF JERI R. RENES AND CHARLES R. RENES UPON THE PETITION OF JERI R. RENES, PETITIONER-APPELLANT, AND CONCERNING CHARLES R. RENES, RESPONDENT-APPELLEE.


Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Robert A. Hutchison, Judge.

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

Jeri R. Renes appeals from the district court order denying her motion to enforce a decree of dissolution and application for contempt. AFFIRMED.

Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Danilson and Bower, JJ.

Jeri R. Renes appeals from the district court order denying her motion to enforce a decree of dissolution and application for contempt. Jeri argues the district court improperly applied the defenses of laches and equitable estoppel, improperly held that a support obligation may be satisfied without paying through the Friend of the Court, and in failing to hold her ex-husband in contempt. Because we agree with the analysis of the district court, we affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

Jeri and Charles Renes were married in 1973. Their marriage produced two children: Robert, born in 1975, and Larissa, born in 1979. A decree of dissolution was entered in 1983. As a part of the decree, Charles was ordered to pay child support of $200 per month per child until certain conditions were met.*fn1

All payments were to be made through the Friend of the Court. All parties agree this did not happen.

Nearly thirty years after the decree, and well over a decade after the obligation ended, Jeri brought this action seeking over $155,000 in back child support and interest. Charles admits that he did not pay his obligation through the Friend of the Court as ordered but testified he paid the support directly to Jeri as the parties had agreed.

The district court found Jeri's testimony was not believable, that she lacked credibility, and overwhelming evidence supported Charles's affirmative defenses of laches and equitable estoppel.

II. Standard of Review

Our review is de novo. In re Marriage of Smiley, 518 N.W.2d 376, 378 (Iowa 1994). "We examine the entire record and adjudicate anew rights on the issues properly presented." Id. Though we are not bound by the findings of the trial court, we give proper weight to them, particularly on issues of credibility. Id.

III. Discussion

A. Support

All parties agree that Charles failed to pay support through the Friend of the Court. The question on appeal is whether laches and promissory estoppel prevent Jeri from ...


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