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In re Marriage of Goetz

Court of Appeal of Iowa

July 24, 2013

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF MELINDA GOETZ AND JEFFORY GOETZ Upon the Petition of MELINDA GOETZ, n/k/a MELINDA SCRIBNER, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning JEFFORY GOETZ, Respondent-Appellee.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Chickasaw County, Joel A. Dalrymple, Judge.

Melinda Goetz, n/k/a Melinda Scribner, appeals from the modification of the physical care provision of the decree of dissolution of her marriage to Jeffory Goetz.

Kevin J. Kennedy of Kennedy & Kennedy, New Hampton, for appellant.

Laura J. Parrish of Miller, Pearson, Gloe, Burns, Beatty & Parrish, P.L.C., for appellee.

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

POTTERFIELD, J.

Melinda Goetz, n/k/a Melinda Scribner, appeals from the modification of the physical care provision of the decree of dissolution of her marriage to Jeffory Goetz. She argues the district court improperly modified physical care of the parties' two children as no substantial change in circumstances occurred. She also argues the court improperly calculated her income for child support purposes. We affirm, finding the district court properly transferred physical care to Jeffory and the income calculation was proper.

I. Facts and proceedings.

The parties were married in Iowa in 1997 and divorced ten years later. During the marriage the parties had two children. Jeffory moved out of the state in 2005 to pursue better employment, Melinda kept the kids in Iowa with her. The terms of the decree dissolving the marriage maintained this arrangement. At the time of the divorce in 2007, Melinda earned $16, 640 and Jeffory earned $27, 040 a year. Jeffory was ordered to pay $685 a month in child support. During the first couple of years following the divorce, Jeffory struggled to pay the support and exercised visitation when he could afford to travel.

Jeffory's situation improved after he moved to Casper, Wyoming. At the time of trial, Jeffory had lived in Casper for six years. He had maintained employment as a public relations specialist at the same business for four and a half years and become engaged to be married. His fiancée was also employed and the couple had recently purchased a four-bedroom home.

Melinda's post-dissolution life was substantially less stable. She remarried in 2011 to James Scribner. That same year, she was fired from work at her second part-time employment after she misappropriated funds for her own use. She was charged with theft in the second degree but pled guilty to a reduced charge of theft in the third degree. She confessed to taking money from her cash drawer for gas, groceries, or other necessities. She was sentenced to a two-year suspended prison term. Melinda was convicted or pled guilty to nine criminal theft charges since the divorce—six of which occurred in the year and a half prior to trial. At the time of trial, Melinda was employed as an assistant to a CPA—a full-time job three months of the year, and part-time the rest.

Compounding the problem with Melinda's criminal and financial troubles is her living arrangement with the children. She and the children moved into James's home after being evicted from their prior home. On a day-to-day basis, seven people reside within the three-bedroom home. Besides Melinda, James, and the two children at issue here, James's former paramour and their child from that relationship reside in one of the bedrooms, and the ex-paramour's daughter from another relationship resides in the home. The ex-paramour does not contribute to the household income. Every other weekend the number of inhabitants can increase from seven to nine occupants as two other children fathered by James stay at the house.

Melinda and James were delinquent on the tax payment for the home at the time of trial, and James owed $12, 000 in back child support. Civil judgments had been entered against both Melinda and James, including a bank judgment of $15, 000 entered the week before trial. An instrument rented for one of the children was repossessed after Melinda failed to make payments on it. Melinda and James have asked others for money repeatedly to avert various disasters such as repossession of a vehicle or to prevent Melinda from being arrested.

The two children perform well in school; however, they each missed more than twenty days of class in the 2011-2012 school year. One of the children has a medical problem requiring treatment. Melinda takes her to an out-of-state facility for treatment though it could be done locally at a time which would not interfere with school. The child's math teacher noted the child misses ...


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