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Melissa K. Bolander

April 24, 2013

MELISSA K. BOLANDER, PETITIONER-APPELLEE, AND CONCERNING MICHAEL A. LETVIN, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.


Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Jefferson County, Myron L. Gookin, Judge.

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

A father appeals the district's court order placing physical care of his child with the mother. AFFIRMED.

Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Potterfield and Doyle, JJ.

Michael Letvin appeals the district's court order placing physical care of his child with Melissa Bolander. We affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

Michael and Melissa are the unmarried parents of K.L., who was born in June 2008. Melissa also has a child from a previous relationship, P.S., who was born in December 2004. Michael and Melissa met in 2006 and began dating. Melissa became pregnant with K.L., and she and P.S. moved in with Michael in the spring of 2008. K.L. was born a few months later. In September 2008, when K.L. was three months old, Michael and Melissa separated.

K.L. remained in the care of Melissa after the parties' separation. The parties agreed Michael would have visitation with K.L. on the weekends except those he worked. The parties shared holidays with K.L.

In August 2011, Melissa filed a petition to establish custody, visitation, and support. The district court entered a temporary order in October 2011, placing K.L. in the physical care of Melissa, with Michael having visitation on alternating weekends.

A hearing was held in July 2012. Melissa and Michael both sought physical care of K.L. Melissa, age 31, is not employed and stays home to care for K.L. and P.S. She receives approximately $740 per month in supplemental security income*fn1 for each K.L. and P.S., plus child support. She intends to further her education when K.L. begins school full-time. Melissa lives with K.L. and P.S. in Fairfield in a two-bedroom apartment, where they have lived for four years.

Michael, age 26, has an associate degree and is employed as a machine worker at Agri-Industrial Plastics, where he has worked for eight years. He works 4:00 p.m. to midnight, but has the option to change to the 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. shift. He earns approximately $31,000 per year and provides health insurance coverage for K.L. through his employment. Michael owns a house in Fairfield where he lives with his fiancee, Shannon.

The district court issued a decree in July 2011, ordering joint legal custody of K.L. to Melissa and Michael and awarding Melissa physical care. The court noted Melissa had established herself as K.L.'s primary physical caretaker and had shown she was capable of meeting all the child's needs. The court noted the strong bond between Michael and K.L. and ordered Michael to have visitation on alternating weekends from Thursday to Sunday, alternating overnights on Wednesdays, alternating holidays, and four weeks in the summer. The court ordered Michael to pay child support of $452.68 per month. Michael appeals.

II. Standard of Review

Issues ancillary to a determination of paternity are tried in equity. Iowa Code ยง 600B.40 (2011). We review equitable actions de novo. Iowa R. App. P. 6.907. When we consider the credibility of witnesses in equitable actions, we give weight to the findings of the ...


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