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In re Marriage of Loucks

Court of Appeal of Iowa

November 6, 2013

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF STEPHEN MUTTI LOUCKS AND SANDRA ANN LOUCKS Upon the Petition of STEPHEN MUTTI LOUCKS, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning SANDRA ANN LOUCKS, Respondent-Appellee.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Story County, Michael J. Moon, Judge.

Stephen Loucks appeals from the spousal support and property distribution provisions of the decree dissolving his marriage to Sandra Loucks.

Nicole S. Facio of Newbrough Law Firm, L.L.P., Ames, for appellant.

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

Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.

POTTERFIELD, P.J.

Stephen Loucks appeals from the property distribution and spousal support provisions of the decree dissolving his marriage to Sandra Loucks. He argues the district court's property division, award of spousal support, and award of attorney fees were inequitable. We affirm as modified, finding the court's award was equitable, but adjusting the interest rate on the equalization payment.

I. Facts and Proceedings.

Stephen and Sandra were married in 1984 in Wyoming. They have two adult children who are not at issue on appeal. Stephen has a college degree, Sandra does not. Sandra worked various jobs outside the home until the parties' first child was born. Stephen worked progressively more responsible jobs; his work led the family to Ames, Iowa in 1993. Sandra did not return to the workforce until 1999. She worked various administrative jobs part-time before Stephen filed for dissolution of the parties' marriage in 2012. The parties separated; Stephen lived in the marital home and Sandra moved to an apartment where the parties' adult son resided with her in August 2012. A temporary support order entered in July 2012 ordered Stephen to begin paying Sandra $1000 a month in temporary spousal support as of July 16, 2012. In entering the temporary support order, the court noted Stephen had an annual salary of $82, 200 with the potential of an annual bonus. In November 2012, Stephen received his annual bonus along with a one-time buy-out bonus. The one-time bonus was distributed to employees based on the length of time they had been employed by the company. Stephen's years with the company all took place during the marriage.

At the time of trial, Stephen was fifty-seven years old and Sandra was fifty-two years old. At this time, Sandra worked at Wal-Mart earning $9.05 an hour working thirty-six to forty hours per week. Stephen worked at Colorbiotics earning $86, 000 per year with an average bonus of $10, 901 per year. Trial was held February 13, 2013; both parties testified. Both parties agreed spousal support was appropriate for Sandra.

The court awarded Sandra spousal support in the amount of $1500 per month for eight years and $500 per month for the subsequent six years. In determining this number, the court considered both parties' income and expenses based on affidavits and testimony provided to the court. It found Stephen's monthly income was $6459 and his expenses were $3744. It found although Sandra's expenses exceeded her income by $1625. The court noted that Sandra requested Stephen pay her entire budget shortfall and Stephen might be able to pay that amount at the time of trial, Stephen would not necessarily be able to pay that amount when he retires.

The court divided the parties' assets, ordering Stephen to pay an equalization payment of $69, 398 to Sandra as he received the marital home and other valuable property. It awarded the parties' van to Sandra, finding its value to be $3000. Stephen filed a motion to amend or enlarge the decree, requesting his spousal support obligation terminate at the death or remarriage of Sandra, that his duty to maintain life insurance decrease when his support obligation decreases, that he not be required to provide health insurance for the parties' adult children, and that the court revisit its valuation of the van and his truck. The court amended the decree according to Stephen's requests in every respect except regarding the valuation of the vehicles, concluding the values should not be changed. Stephen appeals.

II. Analysis.

"Our review in dissolution cases is de novo. Although our review of the trial court's award is de novo, we accord the trial court considerable latitude in making this determination and will disturb the ruling only when there has been a failure to do equity." In re Marriage of Schriner, 695 N.W.2d 493, ...


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