IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF JACQUE L. ERSLAND AND MITCHELL L. ERSLAND; Upon the Petition of JACQUE L. ERSLAND, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning MITCHELL L. ERSLAND, Respondent-Appellant
This opinion is subject to modification or correction by the court and is not final until the time for rehearing or further review has passed.
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Franklin County, Colleen D. Weiland, Judge. An ex-husband appeals the district court's dismissal of his rule-to-show-cause application challenging his ex-wife's compliance with the economic provisions of their dissolution decree.
Dani Eisentrager, Eagle Grove, for appellant.
Thomas Lipps, Algona, for appellee.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.
Mitchell and Jacque Ersland divorced in 2002. A decade later Mitchell sought to hold Jacque in contempt for not executing a promissory note for $17,500, payable to him, as required in the dissolution decree. The district court determined Jacque did not violate the decree because the property equalization was settled between the parties by accord and satisfaction. Mitchell appeals the district court's determination. The district court's dismissal of Mitchell's rule-to-show-cause application rests largely on its credibility findings; because we give those findings significant weight, we affirm the order.
I. Background Facts and Proceedings
Jacque filed a petition to dissolve her marriage to Mitchell on May 9, 2002. Mitchell did not appear for the dissolution trial. The court entered a decree and default judgment on September 18, 2002.
The decree provided for custody of the parties' minor children, child support, and a division of the parties' property, including the marital home. The decree awarded Jacque the home subject to the indebtedness. The parties were purchasing the home on contract. At the time of the decree, their equity in the real estate was $35,000--one-half of which was awarded to Mitchell. Jacque was to execute a promissory note for $17,500 in favor of Mitchell, secured by a mortgage. The decree ordered the promissory note due and payable one year after the last payment was due on the real estate contract. Interest was to accrue on the note at the rate of five percent per annum beginning January 1, 2003. The decree also directed each party to " retain the personal property, including the farm machinery and equipment, which is now in the possession of that party."
Mitchell acknowledged he received a copy of the decree and was aware of the provision requiring Jacque to execute a promissory note for $17,500 in his favor which was due after Jacque paid off the contract of the house.
Jacque did not execute a note or mortgage and Mitchell did not demand those documents in the ten years following the divorce. Mitchell testified: " just never thought of it, I guess." But Jacque contends after entry of the decree, Mitchell chose to take machinery and personal property, which was in her possession, in satisfaction of her obligation. Specifically, Jacque recalled that after the divorce Mitchell took a 610 Bobcat skid loader, an ATV, a New Holland manure spreader, an Inland snowblower, a fifty gallon upright air compressor, a 220-volt Lincoln welder, a stock trailer, a bean buggy, and a hay rake. Jacque also presented evidence establishing that Mitchell allowed an acquaintance named John Walzing to take a tractor, which was in Jacque's possession, in repayment of a debt owed Walzing.
On September 14, 2012, Mitchell filed an application for rule to show cause claiming he never received the $17,500 he was owed under the decree. Jacque filed a response to the application, as well as a petition for entry of an order satisfying judgment and a request for attorney fees. On January 7, 2013, Mitchell filed an answer to the petition to satisfy judgment. The district court held a hearing on February 5, 2013. Both parties testified and both called an additional witness to support their positions. The district court entered an order on July 5, 2013, dismissing Mitchell's show-cause ...