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In re Marriage of Hunt

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 12, 2014

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF KELLI DAWN HILL HUNT AND TONY ROBERT HUNT; Upon the Petition of KELLI DAWN HILL HUNT, n/k/a KELLI DAWN HILL, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning TONY ROBERT HUNT, Respondent-Appellee

Editorial Note:

This decision is published in table format in the North Western Reporter.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dallas County, Richard B. Clogg, Judge. Kelli Hill Hunt appeals the physical care and property distribution provisions of the decree dissolving her marriage to Tony Hunt.

Diane L. Dornburg, Des Moines, for appellant.

Kodi A. Brotherson and Stacey N. Warren of Babich Goldman, P.C., Des Moines, for appellee.

Heard by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.

OPINION

POTTERFIELD, P.J.

Kelli Hill Hunt (n/k/a Kelli Hill) appeals the physical care and property distribution provisions of the decree dissolving her marriage to Tony Hunt. She argues the district court erred in denying her request for a custody investigation, awarding joint physical care, and in the division of the parties' assets.[1] Tony requests appellate attorney fees. We affirm finding the court properly appointed a guardian ad litem for the children, properly awarded the parties joint physical care, and equitably divided the parties' assets. We grant Tony's request for appellate attorney fees.

I. Facts and proceedings.

Kelli and Tony knew each other during childhood and began their romantic relationship while in high school. The two married in 1996, and separated in 2012. They have three children ranging in age from eight to thirteen years old. Kelli has a Ph.D. in psychology and works as a child psychologist. Tony is employed as a quality analyst.

Kelli filed a petition for separate maintenance in April 2012. Both parties participated in mediation on May 31, 2012. The parties signed a mediation agreement, which included a joint physical care arrangement where both parents would rotate in and out of the children's home. Several months later, Kelli requested a hearing on temporary matters, which was held on October 16, 2012. The court order continued the joint physical care arrangement with the two parents rotating time in the children's home. On November 21, Kelli filed an application for a custody evaluation, alleging a clinical psychologist was necessary to assess the children's needs in light of her perception Tony was abusing alcohol. She proposed a doctor in Fort Dodge conduct the evaluation to ensure no conflict with her own practice. Tony resisted the motion, arguing the evaluation would only prolong the already protracted dissolution proceedings. The court denied the request to appoint the custody evaluator and instead appointed a guardian ad litem (GAL) to represent the children's interests in the proceedings. The GAL conducted a series of interviews with the family members, teachers, and counselors and provided a report to the court. Trial on the petition for dissolution was held February 6 and 7, 2013. The GAL, Tony, Kelli, a family services worker, family friends, and siblings of the parties testified. On February 21, 2013, the court entered its decree dissolving the marriage. Among other things, the decree provided that the parties would continue joint physical care of the children and adopted Tony's proposed division of assets. Kelli appeals.

II. Analysis.

Our review of dissolution of marriage proceedings is de novo. In re Marriage of Hansen, 733 N.W.2d 683, 690 (Iowa 2007). " We give weight to the findings of the district court, especially to the extent credibility determinations are involved." Id. We review the decision to appoint a guardian ad litem or custody evaluator under Iowa Code section 598.12 (2011) ...


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