IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF ELIZABETH A. REPP-DANIS AND MICHELE M. REPP-DANIS Upon the Petition of ELIZABETH A. REPP-DANIS, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning MICHELE M. REPP-DANIS, n/k/a MICHELE M. DANIS, Respondent-Appellee.
from the Iowa District Court for Boone County, Steven J.
Repp-Danis appeals the denial of a motion for new trial and
the division of property provisions of the decree dissolving
her marriage to Michele M. Danis. AFFIRMED.
B. Howie of Hudson, Mallaney, Shindler & Anderson, P.C.,
West Des Moines, for appellant.
Angelina M. Thomas of Newbrough Law Firm, L.L.P., Ames, for
by Mullins, P.J., and Bower and McDonald, JJ.
Repp-Dannis (Beth) appeals the district court's decision
denying her motion for new trial and the provisions of the
dissolution decree dividing property between the parties. We
find the district court properly denied the motion for a new
trial and properly divided the assets and debts of the
parties. We affirm.
Background Facts and Proceedings
and Beth Repp-Dannis began dating in 1997. Beth began living
with Michele in 1998, and the couple remained in
Michele's home until 2001. In 1999, the parties had a
commitment ceremony at the Unitarian Fellowship in Ames,
Iowa, changed their last names to Repp-Danis, and considered
themselves to be married. On January 12, 2010, Beth and
Michele were legally married. The district court considered
the relationship "a long-term marriage, given that Beth
and Michele have considered each other spouses since
and Michele entered the relationship with debt and continued
to spend beyond their means. During the relationship,
Beth's grandfather died and left her an interest in a
farm which she sold for $85, 500. Beth used this inheritance
to pay outstanding debts, purchase cars, and pay for the 1999
ceremony. When Beth's father died, in 2001, she again
inherited a portion of a farm and sold her interest for $226,
500. This inheritance was used to pay for a new car for
Michele, travel, a house the parties lived in, furniture,
equipment to care for the property, and remodeling the home,
with most of the work being done by Michele.
parties continued to accumulate debt. They transferred debt
between credit cards, mortgaged the home to pay off the
credit card balances, and began the cycle again.
Michele's father died in 2011, and she inherited
approximately $60, 000. This money was used to pay off
outstanding debts, to purchase materials to build a deck, and
as down payments for a new Jeep and camper. By the time of
trial, Michele had effectively spent the entire amount of her
inheritance. The most recent mortgage, $101, 972.61, taken in
October of 2010, had a balance of $93, 651.32 at the time of
trial and was owed by the parties as tenants-in-common. The
mortgage was used to pay off the debts both parties had
accumulated, as well as continuing to finance the
parties' lifestyle. In addition to the mortgage, the
parties owed more than $15, 000 in credit card debt.
petitioned for dissolution of marriage on March 17, 2015, and
trial was held on November 18. On November 24, the district
court entered its decree and valued the house at $145, 000,
granted Beth the house, granted Michele half the equity, and
required Beth to pay the mortgage.
requested an extension of time to enlarge and amend the
decree, citing her attorney's "personal health
reasons." On December 9, trial counsel filed an
application to withdraw and informed the district court
withdrawal was necessary due to medical issues. The district
court granted counsel's motion to withdraw on December
10. The next day Beth filed a motion to vacate the decree and
grant a new trial, claiming trial counsel had been mentally
impaired during the trial. Further, Beth claimed counsel had
hidden his impairment before and during the trial and only
disclosed the impairment on December 7, after the district
court entered its decree. ...