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Upon Petition of Cline

Court of Appeal of Iowa

June 26, 2013

Upon the Petition of LEE CLINE, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning BONNIE SWANSON, Respondent-Appellant.

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

The mother of a three-year-old daughter appeals the order determining child custody, visitation, and support.

Michael J. Miller and Jeffrey R. Edgar of Patterson Law Firm, L.L.P., Des Moines, for appellant.

Carmen Eichmann of Eichmann Law Offices, Des Moines, for appellee.

Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Potterfield and Tabor, JJ.

TABOR, J.

Lee Cline and Bonnie Swanson are the parents of Caroline, who is three years old. After the unmarried parties separated, Lee initiated an action to establish paternity, custody, visitation, and child support of Caroline. The district court granted the parties joint legal custody of their daughter and ordered them to share physical care on an alternating weekly basis. The court further decided Lee would assume physical care of Caroline when she starts kindergarten in 2015.

On appeal, Bonnie asks us to reverse the order granting Lee physical care of Caroline when she begins school. Bonnie requests physical care be placed with her instead and seeks a corresponding adjustment of the child support award. Bonnie also contends the district court abused its discretion in denying her an attorney fee award. Finally, Lee asks for appellate attorney fees.

Although both parties provide excellent care for their daughter, the evidence shows Lee is the more stable parent. Accordingly, we affirm the district court's order granting him physical care beginning in August 2015, and the corresponding child support award. Given the expense Lee incurred in procuring the child custody evaluation, we find the court acted within its discretion in turning down Bonnie's request for trial attorney fees. We also decline to award Lee his appellate attorney fees.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

Lee and Bonnie met through eHarmony, an on-line dating service, in January 2009. In March 2009, Bonnie discovered she was pregnant. Their daughter was born in October 2009. A few weeks before Caroline was born, Bonnie moved into Lee's home in Greenfield.

Lee has worked for Windstar Communications since January 2008. His typical schedule is Monday through Friday, though he is also required to work one Saturday per month. In exchange for working that Saturday, Lee receives one day off during his regular work week.

At the time of Caroline's birth Bonnie was working as a nanny for the Stineman family. She took six weeks of maternity leave before returning to work. The Stinemans encouraged Bonnie to bring Caroline with her to work, which she did until the baby was ten months old.

In August 2010, the Stinemans replaced Bonnie's services with those of a relative. John Stineman offered Bonnie a job at his business, Strategic Elements, located in Des Moines. Caroline attended daycare in Des Moines, approximately fifty miles away from Lee's home in Greenfield. Because it was nearer to her work, Bonnie transported Caroline to and from daycare. Bonnie also ...


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