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Upon Petition of Richardson

Court of Appeal of Iowa

July 10, 2013

Upon the Petition of CRYSTAL B. RICHARDSON, n/k/a CRYSTAL MILBERT, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning JAMIE D. MCKEEHAN, Respondent-Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Monica Ackley, Judge.

Jamie McKeehan appeals from the district court's modification of visitation, transportation, and child support provisions following petition by Crystal Richardson.

Christopher R. Kemp, Des Moines, for appellant.

Daniel J. McClean, Dyersville, for appellee.

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

DANILSON, J.

Jamie McKeehan appeals from the district court's modification of visitation, transportation, and child support provisions of a previously modified foreign decree. Jamie asserts that Crystal failed to prove there has been a substantial change in the material circumstances that warrant modification. He asks that we overturn the modification order and reinstate the previously modified terms of the decree. After review, we affirm the modification and award appellate attorney fees.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

Jamie and Crystal were never married but are the parents of a son, born August 1999. Both parties resided in Missouri at the time of their son's birth. Per the "joint stipulation and parenting plan" adopted by a Missouri court in February 2002, the parties shared legal and physical custody of their son. In December 2007, Crystal sent Jamie a relocation notice alerting him that she planned to move to Iowa with their son. Jamie initially resisted but the two parties entered into a stipulated, modified agreement in August 2008 approved by a Missouri court. The agreement provided weekend, holiday, and summer visitation schedules. Crystal was responsible for all transportation necessary for the visits. It also set Jamie's child support obligation at $262.50 per month, an amount less than provided by the child support guidelines. Crystal then moved to Dyersville with the parties' minor child.

After moving to Dyersville Crystal was married, had two more children, and took on full-time employment. The parties' relationship became increasingly antagonistic as Crystal struggled to balance her new responsibilities with those outlined in the modification—specifically transporting their son to Kansas City for visits.

Crystal initiated this action by filing a petition for modification of custody, visitation, and child support in June 2011. She also filed an affidavit and request for temporary sole legal and physical custody based upon allegations of domestic abuse and other criminal charges against Jamie. Crystal's request was granted. The court appointed a guardian ad litem and received her report before trial began on May 15, 2012. At trial, the district court found that Crystal had met her burden and modified the visitation, transportation, and child support as requested. Both parties retain joint legal custody of their son. After trial, Jamie filed a motion to enlarge or amend; Crystal answered. In response, the district court entered an order in July 2012 that denied the motion except striking the requirement that Jamie pay a cash medical support obligation. Jamie appeals.

II. Standard of Review.

We review equity cases de novo. Iowa R. App. P. 6.907. We give weight to the district court's findings, especially regarding the credibility of witnesses, but are not bound by them. Iowa R. App. P. 6.904(3)(g). "Precedent is of little value as our determination must depend on the facts of the particular case." In re Marriage of White, 537 N.W.2d 744, 746 (Iowa 1995). As always, our "first and governing consideration" is the ...


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