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In re Marriage of Koontz

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 5, 2017

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF KATHERINE S. KOONTZ AND DAMON M. KOONTZ Upon the Petition of KATHERINE S. KOONTZ, n/k/a KATHERINE S. HARPENAU, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning DAMON M. KOONTZ, Respondent-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Duane E. Hoffmeyer, Judge.

         Damon Koontz appeals from the district court's modification of the December 1, 2010 stipulation and decree dissolving his marriage to Katherine Koontz. AFFIRMED.

          Zachary S. Hindman of Mayne, Arneson, Hindman, Hisey & Daane, Sioux City, for appellant.

          Joseph G. Basque, Iowa Legal Aid, Council Bluffs, for appellee.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vogel and Vaitheswaran, JJ.

          DANILSON, CHIEF JUDGE.

         Damon Koontz appeals from the district court's modification of the December 1, 2010 stipulation and decree dissolving his marriage to Katherine Koontz. Damon contests the district court's order that he reimburse Katherine for the high school education costs of one of their children, the child-support calculation, and the award of attorney fees. Because we find the district court properly ordered Damon to pay one-half of the high school expenses, equitably calculated the modified child-support amount, and did not abuse its discretion in awarding attorney fees to Katherine, we affirm.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings.

         Damon and Katherine were married in September 1997, and their marriage was dissolved on December 1, 2010, by a decree adopting the parties' dissolution stipulation. The parties agreed they would have joint legal custody and Katherine would have physical care of their four children: T.L.K., born in 1993; T.A.K., born in 1998; T.M.K., born in 1999; and T.K., born in 2008.

         Prior to her freshman year of high school, T.A.K. expressed interest in going to a boarding school located near Chicago, Illinois. T.A.K. is an exceptional student and wanted to attend the boarding school to further her chances of getting into a top postsecondary school. Katherine paid all of the expenses for T.A.K.'s four years of high school at the boarding school. T.A.K. graduated from high school just prior to the modification hearing.

         Damon filed the petition for modification on February 22, 2016, seeking physical care of the parties' two minor children-T.M.K. and T.K.-and a corresponding adjustment of the child-support payment. On March 11, 2016, Katherine filed an answer and counterclaim requesting review and adjustment of the child-support payment, reimbursement for school expenses paid by Katherine on behalf of the minor children, [1] and copies of the children's medical insurance cards.

         The modification hearing was held June 29, 2016, and the court entered the modified decree on July 20. The court denied Damon's request for modification of physical care, adjusted the child-support payment, ordered Damon to reimburse Katherine for T.A.K.'s high school expenses, and ordered Damon to pay $2000 of Katherine's attorney fees. Damon now appeals.

         II.Standard of Review.

         "Appeals regarding the dissolution of marriage are equitable proceedings. Therefore, our standard of review is de novo." In re Marriage of Schenkelberg, 824 N.W.2d 481, 483-84 (Iowa 2012) (citation omitted). "We give weight to the trial court's findings of fact but they do not bind us." In re Marriage of Jacobo, 526 N.W.2d 859, 864 (Iowa 1995). "Even though we engage in a de novo review, we will not disturb the trial court's conclusions unless there has been a failure to do equity." Id. "We review the district court's ...


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