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In re Marriage of Reineke

Court of Appeal of Iowa

May 30, 2013

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF TONY E. REINEKE AND DEBRA J. REINEKE Upon the Petition of TONY E. REINEKE, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning DEBRA J. REINEKE, Respondent-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Hancock County, DeDra L. Schroeder, Judge.

         A husband appeals the district court order dissolving his marriage.

          Charles J. Biebesheimer of Stillman Law Firm, Clear Lake, for appellant.

          John G. Sorensen of Sorensen Law Office, Clear Lake, for appellee.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and Bower, JJ.

          VOGEL, P.J.

         Tony Reineke appeals certain portions of the district court order dissolving his marriage to Debra Reineke. He argues the district court erred in valuing the parties' retirement accounts, including the cash value of Tony's life insurance policies, and in valuing the real estate. Because the district court's property distribution is equitable, we affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Tony and Debra began cohabitating in 1992 and were married thirteen years later, on July 2, 2005. They separated in August 2011 and this matter came on for trial in May 2012. Much of the challenge before the district court was how to equitably resolve the parties' financial entanglements with the backdrop of a lengthy premarital cohabitation and comingling of assets, followed by seven years of marriage. The essential facts were not in dispute.

         Tony has worked at Uni-Cover for nearly twenty-five years and earns approximately $64, 000 per year. Since 1992 Debra has also been steadily employed working for Winnebago Industries, most recently earning between $32, 000 and $34, 000 per year. Neither party began contributing to their retirement accounts until their cohabitation; Debra in 1992 when she started with Winnebago, and Tony in 1994.

         In 1986 Tony purchased 2.6 acres of real estate with money borrowed from his parents. This loan was paid off in 1991. Many improvements have been made to the property since the purchase. In 1989 Tony borrowed $9000 to add a garage, and the note was paid off in 1999. Sometime after 1992 a machine shed was built, an old barn was restored, and a corn crib was improved to make it useful as a heated shop. Although Tony claims to have paid for the majority of these improvements, Debra contributed by using her income for daily household expenses. In 2004 a major remodeling project was done to the house, with a $55, 000 note and mortgage, in Tony's name, to fund the project.

         A dissolution trial was held on May 16, 2012. The district court valued Tony's assets minus liabilities at $285, 126 and Debra's at $66, 953. The court found an even fifty-fifty split was appropriate and ordered Tony to pay Debra $35, 000 within one-hundred-twenty days and the remaining $74, 000 pursuant to a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). The district court also ordered Tony to pay $2000 towards Debra's attorney's fees. Tony appeals.

         II. Standard of Review

         We review dissolution cases de novo. In re Marriage of Sullins, 715 N.W.2d 242, 247 (Iowa 2006). "Although we decide the issues raised on appeal anew, we give weight to the trial court's factual findings, especially with respect to the credibility of the witnesses." Id. "Precedent is of little value as our determination must depend on the facts of the particular case." In re Marriage of Brown, 776 N.W.2d 644, 647 (Iowa 2009). The district court is afforded wide latitude, and we will disturb the property ...


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