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In re Marriage of Robinson

Court of Appeal of Iowa

June 26, 2013

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF ANNISSA C. ROBINSON AND JADE ROBINSON Upon the Petition of ANNISSA C. ROBINSON, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning JADE ROBINSON, Respondent-Appellee.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Marshall County, Steven J. Oeth, Judge.

A wife appeals the physical care and economic provisions of a dissolution decree.

Barry S. Kaplan and Melissa A. Nine of Kaplan, Frese & Nine, L.L.P., Marshalltown, for appellant.

Kevin R. Hitchins of Grimes, Buck, Schoell, Beach & Hitchins, Marshalltown, for appellee.

Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.

VAITHESWARAN, P.J.

Annissa and Jade Robinson married in 2006 and divorced in 2012. They had two children together, one who was going into third grade at the time of trial and the other who was still in daycare. Also living in the home was Annissa's child from a prior relationship.

Throughout the marriage, Jade was the primary wage-earner and Annissa the children's primary caretaker. After Annissa filed a dissolution petition, the district court issued a temporary order granting the parents joint physical care of the children. Following trial, the court granted Jade physical care, subject to liberal visitation with Annissa. The court also allocated a retirement plan, divided the parties' personal property, and allocated the dependent exemptions for tax-filing purposes.

On appeal, Annissa challenges the court's (1) physical care determination, (2) visitation order, and (3) economic provisions.

I. Physical Care

Annissa contends the district court should have granted her physical care of the children because: (A) she was the children's primary caretaker; (B) the court's decision separated the children from their half-sibling, (C) in her view, Jade would not maximize the children's contact with her, and (D) Jade intended to transfer the older child from the school he had been attending to a school in Marshalltown. On our de novo review, we are not persuaded that these factors militate in favor of a different physical care determination.

A. We begin with Annissa's parenting role. On that question, the Iowa Supreme Court has stated "stability and continuity of caregiving are important factors that must be considered in custody and care decisions." In re Marriage of Hansen, 733 N.W.2d 683, 696 (Iowa 2007).

Jade does not dispute that Annissa continuously served as the children's primary caretaker. He focuses on her stability. He asserts, and the district court found, that several incidents revealed her unstable character.

We agree that Annissa was unnecessarily confrontational on several occasions. The district court provided a detailed description of each incident, which Annissa does not dispute. Indeed, she concedes the incidents were "not admirable" but suggests that the court placed undue weight on her behaviors "during a highly ...


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