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In Re the Marriage of Todd Strawhacker and Melissa

May 15, 2013

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF TODD STRAWHACKER AND MELISSA STRAWHACKER UPON THE PETITION OF TODD STRAWHACKER, PETITIONER-APPELLANT, AND CONCERNING MELISSA STRAWHACKER, RESPONDENT-APPELLEE.


Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Nancy S. Tabor, Judge.

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

Todd Strawhacker appeals from the child support and visitation provisions of the decree dissolving his marriage to Melissa Strawhacker. AFFIRMED.

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

Todd Strawhacker appeals from the child support and visitation provisions of the decree dissolving his marriage to Melissa Strawhacker. He contends the district court erred in calculating his child support obligation. He also contends he should be granted additional visitation. Melissa requests an award of her appellate attorney fees.

Upon our de novo review, we find the district court properly imputed to Todd an income of $25,000 per year in calculating his child support obligation. We also find the visitation schedule set forth in the decree affords the child maximum contact with both parents. Accordingly, we affirm the child support and visitation provisions of the decree. We award Melissa $1000 in appellate attorney fees.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

Todd and Melissa began a relationship in 2005 and have one child who was born in October of 2007. They were married on December 21, 2008. Todd admits he physically abused Melissa during the marriage. He also admits to abusing drugs and alcohol.

The parties separated on August 2, 2010. After Todd threatened Melissa's boyfriend, she filed a petition for relief from domestic abuse on January 4, 2011. A domestic abuse protective order was entered by consent on February 9, 2011.

Todd owns a carpet cleaning business. He has been involved in the business for approximately fifteen years. He was a part owner until two years ago, and is now the sole owner. The business has only one client, who employs Todd for eight to ten hours of work per month. He earned approximately $8000 in 2010. In 2011, Todd also did contract work for an asphalt company and earned a total of $5548.

Todd admits he is an alcoholic. His criminal record includes two convictions for operating while intoxicated and five convictions for possession of marijuana. Todd testified that at the time of trial, he had been sober for twenty-one months. He attends AA meetings every Monday. He also testified that he has not smoked marijuana since New Year's Eve of 2011.

Melissa worked full-time during the marriage and sometimes held a second job. At the time of the dissolution trial, Melissa worked as a manager-in-training at Pawn King, earning ten dollars per hour.

The evidence shows Melissa was the child's primary caretaker when she was not at work. Although Todd was not working during the day, Melissa often left the child with a babysitter. Todd was not an attentive parent and by his own admission spent between two to three hours per day-and as much as four or five hours per day-gambling online. Melissa testified that Todd failed to properly supervise their child when in Todd's care.

Todd filed a petition seeking to dissolve the marriage on January 12, 2011. A temporary order was filed on March 11, 2011, granting Melissa temporary physical care of the child. The court found Todd capable of working at least forty hours per week at minimum wage, which would equal an income of $280 per week. Based on this imputed income, the court ordered Todd to pay Melissa temporary child support in the amount of sixty dollars per week.

Trial was held on May 2, 2012. On May 16, 2012, the district court entered a decree dissolving the marriage. The parties agreed that Melissa should be granted physical care of the child. In determining Todd's child support obligation, the court imputed to him a gross annual income of $34,270. Based on this amount, the court set his child support obligation at $469.16 per month. Todd was granted visitation from 5 p.m. Friday until 5 p.m. Sunday on alternating weekends, from 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on ...


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