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In re Marriage of Morrison

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 8, 2017

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.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Keokuk County, Myron L. Gookin, Judge.

         The 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.

          John C. Wagner of John C. Wagner Law Offices, P.C., Amana, for appellee.

          Heard by Danilson, C.J., and Doyle and McDonald, JJ.

          MCDONALD, Judge.

         This 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 appeal.

         I.

         We 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).

         II.

         Cassie 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.

         Cassie 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.

         III.

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