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In re Marriage of Le

Court of Appeal of Iowa

June 12, 2013

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF ANNIE LE AND TIM DAVID LE Upon the Petition of ANNIE LE, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning TIM DAVE LE, Respondent-Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, John D. Lloyd, Judge.

Tim Le appeals, pro se, challenging the property division provisions of a district court decree dissolving his marriage to Annie Le.

Tim D. Le, Clive, appellant pro se.

Michelle Mackel-Wiederanders of Iowa Legal Aid, Des Moines, for appellee.

Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Danilson and Mullins, JJ.

MULLINS, J.

Tim Le appeals, pro se, challenging the property division provisions of a district court decree dissolving his marriage to Annie Le. He contends (1) Annie violated the Iowa Constitution by trying to make his life miserable, (2) he was denied effective assistance of counsel as guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Iowa Constitution, and (3) the district court's division of marital property is inequitable. We affirm the district court's order.

I. Background Facts & Proceedings

Tim and Annie met in Vietnam in 2004 and married that same year. They have two children together, A.L. (born 2007) and A.L. (born 2008). At the time of their subsequent divorce, both Tim and Annie were in good health. Tim earned approximately $31, 200 per year while working at Wells Fargo and Annie earned approximately $19, 000 per year as a nail technician—though Tim adamantly disputes the amount of Annie's annual income.

At the time the parties married, Annie owned no property. Tim owned some property but had considerable debt. He filed for bankruptcy in 2005. After he filed for bankruptcy, he obtained $10, 000 in proceeds from the sale of property he had obtained during a prior marriage. He then contributed that $10, 000 toward a $28, 000 down payment on a new home with Annie. Annie also contributed money toward the down payment. For approximately one year during the marriage, Annie served as the sole financial provider while Tim was unemployed.

Annie asserts that she suffered years of physical abuse from Tim. The episodes of domestic abuse culminated in criminal charges against Tim and a civil protective order in favor of Annie in 2010. The temporary protective order granted Annie physical care of the children and exclusive possession of the marital home.

After Tim moved out of the marital home, he made no child support payments and did not otherwise financially support the children. Annie subsequently learned that Tim had taken out several credit cards in her name without her knowledge and accumulated over $13, 000 in debt. Meanwhile, Annie continued to pay the mortgage and care for the children.

In October 2010, Annie filed for divorce. The parties stipulated to joint legal custody with Annie having physical care of the children. They also agreed to sell the marital home and share the proceeds, but disagreed about the proper proportion of those proceeds. The parties also disagreed about the value of the family's two vehicles and the value of the personal property in the marital home.

In February 2012, the district court held a trial on the dissolution of marriage petition. Both parties were represented by counsel at that time. After hearing testimony and receiving exhibits from both parties, the district ...


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