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In re Marriage of Hinnen

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 5, 2014

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF ROBERT M. HINNEN AND JILL M. HINNEN; Upon the Petition of ROBERT M. HINNEN, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning JILL M. HINNEN, Respondent-Appellant

Editorial Note:

This decision has been referenced in a "Decisions Without Published Opinions" table in the North Western Reporter.

Appeal fro the Iowa District Court for Des Moines County, John M. Wright, Judge. Jill Hinnen appeals the district court ruling dismissing her application for order to show cause.

William R. Jahn Jr. of Aspelmeier, Fisch, Power, Engberg & Helling, P.L.C., Burlington, for appellant.

Robert J. Engler of Robberts & Kirkman, L.L.L.P., Burlington, for appellee.

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

OPINION

BOWER, J.

Jill Hinnen appeals the district court ruling dismissing her application for order to show cause. Jill contends the district court erred in failing to find Robert Hinnen willfully violated the dissolution decree and abused its discretion in failing to impose sanctions. We find the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the application. We affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

A final judgment and decree of dissolution of marriage was entered between the parties on January 19, 2006. The decree required Robert to pay for the undergraduate education of their three children for a maximum of four years or until each child reached the age of twenty-three, whichever comes first. The decree further required Robert to make the tuition " payments directly to the child, or the college, or both, but not to Jill." In years during which Robert made the payments, he was allowed to claim the child as a dependent for income tax purposes. Jill was required to provide Robert with the necessary tax forms each year to allow him to make the claim.

Robert paid for the youngest child's freshman and sophomore year of college at a private university in Indiana, as required by the decree.[1] He did so by setting up a parent payment plan with the university that allowed him to make periodic payments during the semester.[2] Prior to the child's junior year, in the fall of 2010, Robert informed Jill he would not be paying that year's tuition. Jill paid the tuition for the fall semester so the child could continue attending classes. Robert filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection in 2010, and Jill filed a claim for the amount of the fall 2010 tuition. Jill was repaid through the bankruptcy trustee.

Robert is a family physician who estimates his yearly income to be approximately $205,000. The majority of Robert's income is derived through quarterly draws from his office; however he does receive small biweekly payments. Robert pays $2400 a month in debt payments for his bankruptcy and an additional $3000 a month to Jill in alimony.

Jill continued to make tuition payments for the spring semester 2011, fall semester 2011, and spring semester 2012. Unable to pay the full tuition bill before classes started, due to the quarterly nature of his compensation, Robert made payments directly to Jill during each semester as he was able.

The present controversy started when Robert attempted to claim the child as a dependent on his 2011 tax return and learned Jill had already done so. As a result, Robert filed an application for order to show cause. The application was voluntarily dismissed after Jill amended her return to remove the child as a dependent. After Robert claimed the child on his income tax return, Jill filed this application for order to show cause. She claimed Robert had willfully failed to meet his financial obligation and improperly claimed the child ...


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