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In re Marriage of Fluent

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 7, 2017

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF NICOLE MARIE FLUENT AND GRANT JEROME FLUENT Upon the Petition of NICOLE MARIE FLUENT, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning GRANT JEROME FLUENT, Respondent-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Edward A. Jacobson, Judge.

         Nicole Marie Fluent appeals the decree dissolving her marriage to Grant Jerome Fluent. AFFIRMED AS MODIFIED.

          Tara S. Vonnahme of Vonnahme Law, P.C., Sioux City, for appellant.

          Theodore E. Karpuk of Law Office of Theodore E. Karpuk, Sioux City, for appellee.

          Considered by Mullins, P.J., and Bower and McDonald, JJ.

          MULLINS, Presiding Judge.

         Nicole Marie Fluent appeals the decree dissolving her marriage to Grant Jerome Fluent. We affirm as modified.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Nicole and Grant were married in August 2009. In November 2015, Nicole filed a petition for dissolution. Prior to trial, the parties executed a pretrial stipulation that resolved most issues between them, except for the division of the portion of Grant's retirement account earned during the marriage-sums totaling approximately $125, 000. Nicole requested an equalization payment from the account in the amount of approximately $46, 500.[1] Grant requested the entirety of the account, in part as a set aside to him for a $74, 000 inheritance he had received during the marriage from his mother's estate and certain premarital money he brought into the marriage. In its decree, the district court adopted the pretrial stipulation and granted the requested set aside but ordered Grant to pay Nicole $13, 000 from the retirement account or some other source to do equity between the parties. The district court stated the set aside was for both inherited and premarital property. Nicole appeals.

         II. Scope and Standard of Review

         We review cases tried in equity, such as dissolution cases, de novo. Iowa R. App. P. 6.907; In re Marriage of Gust, 858 N.W.2d 402, 406 (Iowa 2015). We give weight to the factual findings of the district court, especially when considering the credibility of witnesses, but we are not bound by them. Iowa R. App. P. 6.904(3)(g). Prior cases, though helpful, have little precedential value because we must base our decision primarily on the particular circumstances of the parties presently before us. In re Marriage of Weidner, 338 N.W.2d 351, 356 (Iowa 1983). We accord the trial court considerable latitude in making factual determinations and will disturb the ruling only when there has been a failure to do equity. Gust, 858 N.W.2d at 406.

         III. Analysis

         On appeal, Nicole argues the district court abused its discretion in setting aside any sums to Grant, as the inheritance money he received was not traceable at the time of trial. Nicole does not identify what assets are at issue, proffer a valuation for those assets, or otherwise indicate what sums she asks this court award to her. Of note, while the parties dispute the equitability of setting aside premarital property to Grant, the pretrial stipulation governed the distribution of all of their premarital assets. Further, in its decree, the district court does not specify what premarital property it set aside or the value it attributed to premarital property. Upon our review of the record, the only property clearly ...


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