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In re Marriage of Conner

Court of Appeal of Iowa

October 2, 2013

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF RODNEY CONNER AND DEBBIE CONNER
v.
Upon the Petition of RODNEY CONNER, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning DEBBIE CONNER, n/k/a DEBBIE FIFER, Respondent-Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Nancy S. Tabor, Judge.

Debbie Conner appeals from the district court's decision granting her ex-husband Rodney Conner and their three children an order of protection and extending a temporary writ of injunction.

Eric D. Puryear and Eric S. Mail of Puryear Law, P.C., Davenport, for appellant.

Jennifer Olsen of Olsen Law Firm, Davenport, for appellee.

Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ. Tabor, J. takes no part.

POTTERFIELD, P.J.

Debbie Conner appeals from the district court's decision granting her ex-husband Rodney Shane Conner and their three children an order of protection and extending a temporary writ of injunction and temporary modification of the parties' divorce decree. She argues the format of the proceedings violated her rights to procedural due process of law, the court improperly extended a temporary writ of injunction, and the court improperly granted the order of protection as insufficient evidence supported a finding of domestic violence. We find Debbie's due process argument without merit and affirm the issuance of the temporary writ of injunction; as to the protective order, we find the children are not qualified protected parties and that insufficient evidence supports the order of protection in favor of Shane.

I. Facts and proceedings.

On August 11, 2012, police raided the home of Debbie Conner, finding a methamphetamine laboratory in the home. Debbie lived in that home with her husband and Debbie's three children, born during Debbie's previous marriage to Rodney Shane Conner.[1] A decree dissolving Debbie and Shane's marriage was entered in 2007, awarding the parents joint legal custody and joint physical care of the children. Both parties remarried.

After the raid, the department of human services began an investigation into possible abuse or neglect of the children by Debbie. At this time, Shane had the children in his care. Shane filed an application for a temporary writ of injunction to prevent Debbie from removing the children from his care and also filed an application for an emergency temporary modification of the divorce decree requesting physical care of the children.[2] The court granted the temporary injunction and the emergency modification the same day, and placed the children in Shane's physical care. The parties' eldest son struggled with placement with his father. He continued to communicate with his mother, ran away to his mother's house, and texted a threat to Shane and his wife.

On August 31, Shane filed a petition for an order of protection. He alleged Debbie made threats against him in a conversation between Debbie and the children's school principal. He also alleged a threat was made against him by the parties' oldest son. A temporary order of protection named him as the protected party. The court set a hearing date. Later, a modified order issued changing the hearing to a date when the other pending matters were scheduled to be heard, and added the three children as additional protected parties.

The hearing was held September 28, 2012. Both parties agreed to a bifurcated hearing process. The first part of the hearing was devoted to the domestic violence case and Shane's petition for order of protection. The second half of the hearing covered Debbie's motion to dissolve the temporary injunction and Shane's application for temporary modification of physical care. The district court allowed cross-examination of witnesses during the first part of the hearing but disallowed cross-examination during the second half, citing a local rule limiting evidence to testimony of the parties and affidavits. Debbie objected to the lack of cross-examination during the presentation of evidence regarding the physical care and injunction issues. The court overruled her objection, and later denied her motion to reconsider on the same grounds.

The court granted the order of protection, continued the temporary injunction, and placed temporary physical care with Shane. Debbie appeals the district court's decisions regarding ...


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