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In re Marriage of Gust

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 5, 2013

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF STEVEN MICHAEL GUST AND LINDA LEANN GUST Upon the Petition of STEVEN MICHAEL GUST, Petitioner-Appellant/Cross-Appellee, And Concerning LINDA LEANN GUST, Respondent-Appellee/Cross-Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Robert B. Hanson, Judge.

Husband appeals spousal support provision of dissolution decree, wife cross-appeals the property distribution and denial of attorneys fees.

Kodi Brotherson of Babich Goldman P.C., Des Moines, for appellant.

Michael Oliver of Oliver Law Firm, Windsor Heights, for appellee.

Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.

TABOR, J.

Steven Gust appeals the amount and duration of the spousal support ordered in the dissolution decree. He asserts he should pay $1400 rather than $2000 per month. He also argues the obligation should stop when he is eligible for retirement. Linda Gust cross-appeals, alleging the district court erred in its distribution of marital property and in denying her request for trial attorney fees. She also requests appellate attorney fees.

Considering the earning capacity of the parties, among other factors, we affirm the district court's spousal support award. We find Linda did not preserve her dissipation of assets challenge because she did not bring it to the attention of the district court. We also affirm the district court's denial of Linda's request for trial attorney fees and order each party to pay their own appellate attorneys fees.

I. Facts and Procedural Background

Steven and Linda Gust were married in November 1985. They have two children, ages seventeen[1] and twenty-one at the time of trial. Steven was fifty-seven years old at the time of trial. He has type 1 diabetes which requires him to wear an insulin pump. His diabetes has affected his vision. He also takes medication for high blood pressure. Linda was fifty-one years old at the time of trial. She does not have any health issues that prevent her from working fulltime.

Steven has a degree in economics from Iowa State University. He is employed full-time as general manager of MD Construction, LLC. In 2011, Steven's salary and bonuses totaled $92, 551. Linda attended Des Moines Area Community College from 1986 to 1988, but did not earn a degree. In 2008 Linda started working for the Ankeny Community School District as a library assistant. She also barcodes textbooks. Doing these two jobs Linda earns $15, 000 a year. Between 1994 and 2008 Linda was not employed outside the home, staying home to raise the children and manage the household.

During their marriage Steven and Linda owned and operated Sound Real Estate, LLC. Sound Real Estate started as a "house flipping" business, "mak[ing] a profit on the differential between what [they] bought it for and what [they] sold it for." But the company eventually became a subcontractor for Steven's employer MD Construction. The company completed lead-based paint abatement paperwork required by the Department of Housing and Urban Development for contracts held by MD Construction. Steven resigned from the company in 2012 and no longer receives compensation from Sound Real Estate. The parties agree that without Steven's labor the value of the company is the amount in its checking account at the time of trial.

Steven filed a petition for dissolution of marriage on June 23, 2011. The court issued a temporary order on August 25, 2011. The court heard the parties at trial on May 22, 2012. On October 1, 2012, the district court entered findings of fact, conclusions of law, and a decree of dissolution. Steven filed a motion to reconsider on October 12, 2012. The court denied that motion on February 11, ...


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