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In re Marriage of Veen

Court of Appeal of Iowa

July 10, 2013

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF PATRICIA JOAN VAN VEEN AND STANLEY EUGENE VAN VEEN JR. Upon the Petition of PATRICIA JOAN VAN VEEN, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning STANLEY EUGENE VAN VEEN JR., Respondent-Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Martha L. Mertz, Judge.

Stanley Van Veen appeals an order establishing the amount of arrearage for delinquent payments of child support, medical insurance and expenses, and tuition costs.

Bryan P. Webber, Des Moines, for appellant.

Michael P. Holzworth, Des Moines, for appellee.

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

TABOR, J.

Stanley Van Veen appeals the district court order determining the amount of arrearage he owes for child support, tuition costs, health insurance, and medical expenses. He contends the district court mistook his acknowledgement that certain issues were discussed before the hearing as an agreement to the amounts owed for child support and tuition. Stanley also invokes the doctrine of estoppel by acquiescence to allege Patricia waited too long to collect medical insurance premiums and uncovered medical expenses.

Because the record supports the court's finding that Stanley stipulated to the amount of child support and tuition expenses owed, we affirm on that issue. And by raising his estoppel defense for the first time on appeal, Stanley failed to preserve error on his second issue. We award Patricia $1000 in appellate attorney fees.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

On April 10, 1997, the district court entered its decree dissolving the marriage of Stanley and Patricia Van Veen. The Van Veens are the parents of one daughter who is now twenty-four years old and one son who is twenty-one. The decree granted Patricia physical care of both children and provided Stanley visitation rights. The court ordered Stanley to pay $866 per month in child support, one-half of the children's tuition and book fees at Holy Trinity School and Dowling Catholic High School, and maintain health insurance for the children. The parties were to split any uncovered medical expenses.

Stanley eventually stopped meeting his obligation to pay child support, health insurance, uncovered medical expenses, and tuition costs. Patricia individually financed the children's expenses, including multiple surgeries on their son's ankle, their daughter's emergency appendectomy, and both children's braces and wisdom teeth removal.

On June 22, 2011, Patricia filed an application to set arrearage on Stanley's missed payments. In addition to seeking back payment with interest, she also requested attorney fees. The court held a hearing on September 8, 2011, to determine the amount Stanley owed. Patricia was represented by counsel and Stanley appeared pro se. The transcript of the hearing begins with the court's summary of its lengthy discussion with the parties regarding stipulated amounts owed. The court announced the parties "agreed and stipulated" that Stanley owed $33, 000 in back child support and $7000 in tuition costs. The remainder of the hearing focused on arrearage relating to insurance and medical payments, as well as attorney fees.

On September 8, 2011, the district court ordered Stanley to pay the following amounts: $33, 000 in back child support; $30, 676.03 in insurance premiums and uncovered medical expenses; $7000 for one-half the cost of school expenses; and $900 in Patricia's attorney fees. The court added to the first two amounts a ten-percent interest rate from the hearing date until the arrearage was paid in full, and added to the last two amounts the legal-rate of interest until paid in full.

On September 19, 2011, Stanley filed a pro se motion requesting a new trial, which Patricia resisted. Stanley hired counsel, who filed a response to Patricia's resistance and represented Stanley throughout the remainder of the proceedings. After holding a December 20, 2011 telephone conference on the motion with the parties' counsel, the ...


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