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In re Marriage of Teter

Court of Appeal of Iowa

July 24, 2013

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF ANGELA SUE TETER AND CLARENCE W. TETER Upon the Petition of ANGELA SUE TETER, Petitioner-Appellee/Cross-Appellant, And Concerning CLARENCE WAYNE TETER, Respondent-Appellant/Cross-Appellee.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Boone County, James C. Ellefson, Judge.

Both spouses appeal the economic provisions of their divorce decree.

Jennie L. Wilson-Moore of Wilson Law Firm, Marshalltown, for appellant. Meredith C.

Mahoney Nerem of Jordan & Mahoney Law Firm, P.C., Boone, for appellee.

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

TABOR, J.

After nineteen years of marriage, Clarence and Angela Teter divorced. The district court ordered Clarence to pay Angela $600 per month in spousal support until Angela remarries, either party dies, or Clarence reaches the age of retirement. The court also divided the parties' marital assets and debt and assessed child support for the three minor children.

On appeal, Clarence contends the court erred in awarding any spousal support or, alternatively, in awarding traditional instead of rehabilitative support. Angela cross-appeals arguing the court erred in not awarding a greater amount of spousal support and not awarding additional alimony when the child support is reduced. Plus, Angela disagreed with the district court's equal division of martial debt, the denial of a postsecondary education subsidy for the two oldest children, and the amount of trial attorney fees. Angela also requests appellate attorney fees.

Given the disparity in the parties' earning capacities, we find the district court acted equitably in fixing the amount and duration of spousal support. The district court equitably divided the parties' debt, and appropriately refused to allocate the daughter's senior trip debt. We also find the court properly denied the postsecondary education subsidy for the two oldest children and acted within its discretion in awarding Angela trial attorney fees. We award Angela $1500 in appellate attorney fees.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

Angela and Clarence were married in October 1993. Five children—two daughters and three sons—were born during the marriage and ranged in age from twenty years old to nine years old at the time of the dissolution trial.

Before the dissolution, the parties lived in a home appraised at $405, 000 on twelve acres. The family fell behind on payments and no longer own the home.

Clarence was forty-eight years old at the time of trial. He has been employed for the Union Pacific Railroad as a locomotive engineer during the entirety of the parties' marriage and was the primary income earner. His income largely depends on the particular assignments he accepts, which often require travel, and the freight the railroad hauls, which varies with the economy. The court assessed his salary at $110, 000 annually. Clarence also helps his farmer friends during the planting and harvesting seasons, earning around $500 in cash or bartering for something he needs.

At the time of trial, Angela was forty-three years old. She has an associate's degree. Angela primarily served as a stay-at-home spouse during the marriage and solely handled the family's finances. She earned occasional income by working at a bank, local restaurants, and babysitting. Her hours of employment were often limited because Clarence was frequently gone during the night hours or for several consecutive days due to his work schedule.

In 2009, Angela had her highest income year during the marriage when she earned $14, 504 working part-time at the Ogden school district and the Boone County Hospital. Angela briefly left these positions in 2011 to home school the parties' two youngest children. She still home schools the youngest child. She currently works for Ogden schools as a para-educator, earning $7.40 per hour, and doing one-on-one-assignments, earning $9.08 per hour. She additionally works for the Boone County Hospital for less than forty hours per month performing home care, earning $11.25 per hour. The court assessed her salary at $18, 700. The court based its estimate on a combination of Angela's current hourly wages and ...


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