IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF KYLE D. MORRISON AND CASSIE K. MORRISON Upon the Petition of KYLE D. MORRISON, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning CASSIE K. MORRISON, Respondent-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Keokuk County, Myron L.
parties' each appeal from an order denying relief in a
dissolution modification action. AFFIRMED AND REMANDED.
Catherine C. Dietz-Kilen and Jaclyn M. Zimmerman of Harrison
& Dietz-Kilen, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant.
C. Wagner of John C. Wagner Law Offices, P.C., Amana, for
by Danilson, C.J., and Doyle and McDonald, JJ.
case arises out of a dissolution modification action filed
not long after the parties entered into a stipulated decree
dissolving their marriage. Cassie and Kyle Morrison divorced
in January 2014. They stipulated to joint custody of their
two children, A.M. (born 2011) and M.M. (born 2012). Pursuant
to the stipulation, Cassie was awarded physical care of the
children, and Kyle was granted liberal visitation. In
December 2014, Cassie filed her petition to modify the
decree, seeking clarification of the parties' custodial
rights, modification of the visitation schedule, and
modification of child support. Kyle filed a counterclaim,
seeking physical care of the parties' children. The
district court denied the requested relief. Both parties
review de novo cases tried in equity. See Iowa R.
App. P. 6.907. We review the entire record and decide anew
the factual and legal issues preserved and presented for
review. See In re Marriage of Williams, 589 N.W.2d
759, 761 (Iowa Ct. App. 1998). Prior cases have little
precedential value; we apply the relevant law to the unique
facts and circumstances of each case. See In re Marriage
of Kleist, 538 N.W.2d 273, 276 (Iowa 1995); In re
Marriage of Snowden, No. 14-1920, 2015 WL 4233449, at *1
(Iowa Ct. App. July 9, 2015) ("All happy families are
alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
(quoting Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina 1 (1873))).
Although our review is de novo, we afford deference to the
district court. See In re P.C., No. 16-0893, 2016 WL
4379580, at *2 (Iowa Ct. App. Aug. 17, 2016).
and Kyle have a contentious relationship. One incident is
illustrative. The two give vastly different accounts of the
incident. According to Cassie, she went to Kyle's house
to pick up the children. After she arrived, Kyle charged out
of the house and attempted to throw her off the porch,
causing her to fall and hit her knee. She testified Kyle
threw the children's things on the front lawn. For his
part, Kyle states Cassie arrived on the morning in question
earlier than her scheduled pick-up time and attempted to gain
entry into the house but the door was locked. After Kyle
unlocked the door, he asked Cassie to wait, and she slammed
the door into him. Later during the same incident, when Kyle
was bringing the children's belongings outside, Cassie
shoved him into the side of the house. According to Kyle, he
suffered lacerations, which were evidenced by photographs. He
stated after Cassie and the children had left, Cassie almost
immediately returned, barged into the home, and demanded one
of the children's blankets, which Kyle threw at her, and
she left. Both contacted the county sheriff's office. The
sheriff's deputy's report noted Cassie changed her
story multiple times. We note Cassie's testimony is
inconsistent with the report she gave the deputy. No charges
were formally filed in the incident. Cassie retained her
attorney in this matter immediately after this incident.
and Kyle each cite to several other incidents evidencing the
contentiousness of their relationship. We find it unnecessary
to discuss them in any great detail, or even at all. Four
broad conclusions can be drawn from the record. First, Cassie
and Kyle have a contentious relationship. Second, Cassie and
Kyle each deny any fault for their contentious relationship
while oblivious each bears fault. Third, Cassie and Kyle are
good parents and care a great deal about their children.
Fourth, Cassie and Kyle's contentious relationship has
the potential to undermine their individually good parenting.