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In re Marriage of Rose

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 3, 2017

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF STEPHANIE R. ROSE AND SHANE A. ROSE Upon the Petition of STEPHANIE R. ROSE, n/k/a STEPHANIE R. MILLER, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning SHANE A. ROSE, Respondent-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Clinton County, Mark D. Cleve, Judge.

         Shane Rose appeals the district court's modification of a dissolution decree awarding physical care of the parties' child to Stephanie Miller. AFFIRMED.

          Judd J. Parker of Parker Law Office, Clinton, for appellant.

          Jennifer M. T. Olsen of Olsen Law Office, Davenport, for appellee.

          Heard by Danilson, C.J., and Potterfield and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, Judge.

         Shane Rose appeals the district court's modification of a dissolution decree awarding physical care of the parties' child to Stephanie Miller, formerly known as Stephanie Rose. We find there was a substantial change in circumstances justifying modification of physical care and Stephanie is able to provide superior care. Accordingly, we affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Stephanie and Shane were divorced on August 29, 2014. The dissolution decree awarded joint legal custody and shared physical care of the parties' child. The decree also required the consent of both parties for decisions regarding the child. The parties were unable to agree on a plan for the child's education. Shane was adamant that Stephanie or another family member homeschool the child, and Stephanie believed that the child would be better served by attending preschool and kindergarten to work on his needed socialization.[1]

         This dispute increased conflict between the parties and resulted in a breakdown of communication. Shane required a witness to be present anytime he spoke with Stephanie or he would not meet with her and text messages from both parties became contentious, rude, and unproductive. Communication between the child and Stephanie was limited when the child was in the father's care. When the child was in the father's care, Shane would not let the child attend daycare or preschool. Stephanie was unable to take the child on vacation for two weeks in the summer, as provided in the decree, because the parties could not agree if notice was given on time. Stephanie attempted to enroll the child in swimming lessons, which he eventually attended, but Shane resisted, claiming the schedule was unacceptable and he questioned the methods, hours, and techniques that would be used. Shane also reported to Stephanie's employer, a day care and preschool, that she had earlier physically abused a child in her care. This lead to an investigation by both the employer and the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) and the allegation proved to be unfounded.

         Less than a year after the entry of the dissolution decree, Stephanie filed an application to modify the decree. The application for modification requested, among other things, physical care of the child. After the application was filed, the child began counseling by agreement of the parties. Trial was held March 28-29, 2016. The district court entered its ruling April 21, and modified the decree to award physical care to Stephanie. Shane now appeals.

         II. Standard of Review

         Our review of equitable actions is de novo. Iowa R. Civ. P. 6.907. We are bound to examine the record and adjudicate the rights of the parties anew. In re Marriage of Williams, 589 N.W.2d 759, 761 (Iowa Ct. App. 1998). We will defer to the district court's determinations of credibility as the court has a unique opportunity to hear the evidence and view the witnesses. In re Marriage of Brown, 487 N.W.2d 331, 332 (Iowa 1992).

         III. ...


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