from the Iowa District Court for Monona County, Jeffrey A.
father appeals a district court decision that modified a
paternity decree to place physical care of the parties'
children with the mother. AFFIRMED.
William H. Larson of Klass Law Firm, L.L.P., Sioux City, for
C. Kohl of Nymann & Kohl, Sioux City, for appellee.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., Doyle, J., and Goodhue, S.J.
GOODHUE, Senior Judge.
Michael Carlsen appeals from the decree of modification
transferring physical care of the parties' three minor
children from Carlsen to the children's mother, Rachael
and Noble were never married but lived together from February
2004 until October 2009. Three children were born as the
result of the relationship. They are M.C., a boy, born in
2004, and twin girls, C.C. and C.C., born in 2005. Noble
moved out of the family home, and after two weeks, she
returned the three children and left them with Carlsen. In
addition, Noble left her older daughter, M.N., a child from a
previous relationship, with Carlsen.
felt Carlsen might become violent and, to memorialize the
separation and custody arrangement, filed a request for a
no-contact order. Carlsen consented to the no-contact order,
and no evidence of physical abuse was presented. The
no-contact order confirmed the custodial relationship adopted
by the parties and granted Noble visitation rights.
Carlsen filed a formal petition requesting custody and
support for the children. A trial was held on November 8,
2011, and on January 17, 2012, a formal order was entered
granting physical care of the parties' minor children to
Carlsen, granting visitation rights to Noble, and providing
for support. Noble appeared and participated in the trial but
did not have counsel.
time of the November trial, Carlsen was living with Karen
Bartelson, a divorcee who had custody of four children born
to her during a prior marriage. Bartelson was a fourth-grade
teacher at the time and testified on Carlsen's behalf at
the trial. The court gave weight to her testimony and noted
she had testified that Carlsen was "a caring parent . .
. patient, mindful, and respectful" and ministered to
the children's physical needs. The court also noted
"the children were doing very well and their report
cards and progress reports seemed to indicate that they have
adjusted well to the current living situation." It was
noted that "Ms. Bartelson is a positive influence on
Chad and the children."
time of the November 2011 trial, Noble was living with Ryan
Shepard in a town nearby to Carlsen, and had given birth to
two more children as the result of the new relationship. One
son had been born in 2010 and the second in 2011. Noble had
not exercised all the visitation set out in the no-contact
order, and the court stated, "Rachael has not stepped up
to the plate as a parent relative to her visitations, school,
medical or any of the other major factors that a court might
look to to pick an appropriate custodian." Noble
expressed an interest in moving to Idaho, which was
interpreted by the court to be her intent, and visitation was
designed to accommodate her move.
August 26, 2013, Noble filed an application to modify the
physical care provision of the paternity decree. Since the
November 2011 trial, Bartelson and Carlsen separated.
Bartelson was found to have possession of marijuana and
methamphetamine and was prosecuted accordingly. Her children
are no longer living with her. She has resigned her teaching
position. She testified at the current trial that she and