Upon the Petition of JOHN KIBET SOI, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning BARBARA ADAMS SOI, Respondent-Appellee.
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Mary Pat Gunderson, Judge.
Petitioner appeals the district court's rulings denying his motion to continue and granting his former wife physical care of their daughter.
Benjamin M. Clark of Sullivan & Ward, P.C., West Des Moines, for appellant.
Karen A. Taylor of Taylor Law Offices, Des Moines, for appellee.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Danilson and Tabor, JJ.
John Soi appeals the district court's rulings denying his motion to continue and granting his former wife, Barbara Soi, physical care of their daughter. John contends the district court's rejection of his motion to continue was an abuse of discretion because it "resulted in a failure to substantially administer justice." He also contends it is in the best interest of the child to award him physical care of the parties' daughter, or, in the alternative, asks that we award joint physical care to the parties. Upon our review we conclude there was no abuse of discretion in denying a continuance, and the court did not err in awarding Barbara sole physical care of the parties' minor child. At Barbara's request we award her attorney fees. We affirm.
I. Background Facts.
John and Barbara Soi were married on September 23, 2009. Their only child was born on December 6, 2009. The parties separated in April 2011. Barbara testified she moved out of the couple's apartment after John physically attacked her. The parties agreed to joint physical care with alternating weeks of custody while the dissolution of their marriage was pending.
John also had a son with his former girlfriend, Moira Wendot. Wendot testified at trial that John had been verbally and physically abusive to her, both during and after their relationship ended. Wendot and John also share joint physical care with alternating weeks. Wendot testified regarding Barbara's strengths as a caretaker, noting she believed Barbara had been the primary caretaker of her and John's child during the times John had custody of him.
At the time of trial John was a full-time student attending Iowa State University. He was taking twenty credits and was not otherwise employed. He already had a degree as a licensed practical nurse and had worked in the medical field as a homecare nurse from October 2009 until approximately March 2012. Barbara was enrolled at Des Moines Area Community College and taking nineteen credits towards a liberal arts degree. She was also employed full-time by GCS Services cleaning office buildings. Her work schedule was from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. each weekday.
At the time of trial, John's parents had recently moved to the United States and were living with him in his apartment. His mother admitted she was largely responsible for caretaking during the weeks when John had custody of his daughter. Barbara was living in an apartment with a female friend and co-worker, Randi Durrett, and her young child. The women testified they helped care for each other's children when the other is working.
II. Prior Proceedings.
John filed for a petition of separation though his attorney, Kathleen Hiatt, on December 11, 2011. Trial was ...