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Hyde v. Mann

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 7, 2017

JUSTIN DEMOND HYDE, Petitioner-Appellant,
ONTARIA MONIQUA MANN, Respondent-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Douglas F. Staskal, Judge.

         A father appeals the district court's grant of physical care of his minor child to the child's mother. AFFIRMED.

          Matthew G. Sease of Kemp & Sease, Des Moines, for appellant.

          Jason S. Rieper of Rieper Law, P.C., Des Moines, for appellee.

          Heard by Vogel, P.J. and Doyle and McDonald, JJ.

          MCDONALD, Judge.

         Justin Hyde, Sr., (Justin) and Ontaria Mann (Ontaria) are the never-married parents of J.D.H.J. In the fall of 2015, Justin filed a petition to establish paternity, custody, visitation, and support. Justin sought physical care of J.D.H.J. The district court granted the parties joint legal custody of J.D.H.J. and awarded Ontaria physical care of the child. Justin timely filed this appeal.


         Justin and Ontaria met in 2008 and moved in together in 2009. The relationship was not healthy. The couple separated shortly after Ontaria became pregnant. After the parties separated, Justin moved back to his hometown, Dallas, Texas. Justin returned to Iowa for Ontaria's scheduled delivery. Ontaria gave birth to J.D.H.J. in March 2010. Justin remained with Ontaria and J.D.H.J. for several days after birth and then returned to Texas. Over the next year, Justin returned to Iowa several times to visit with J.D.H.J. Justin testified he and Ontaria exercised shared physical care of the child in three-month intervals starting around the time of the child's first birthday. The record does not support this claim. Instead, it appears Justin exercised extraordinary visitation with the child prior to the time the child started school. After J.D.H.J. began school, J.D.H.J. spent the school year with Ontaria and summer and holiday breaks with Justin.

         At the time of trial, Ontaria was employed in the Hy-Vee pharmacy department. She commenced that employment shortly after Justin filed this action. Before obtaining employment at Hy-Vee, Ontaria worked as an exotic dancer and attempted to start a catering business. Prior to her employment with Hy-Vee, her earnings history is unknown. She did not provide any documentation or testimony regarding her income. Nor did she file any tax returns. She testified she did not file tax returns because of her embarrassment about her past profession. It appears from the record she received public assistance in the form of housing and food stamps. At the time of trial, Ontaria had a suspended license. She testified she continued to drive, however- sometimes with J.D.H.J. in the car.

         At the time of trial, Ontaria resided in a single-family home on the south side of Des Moines. It appears Ontaria was living in public housing until after the time Justin filed this action. At her new residence, J.D.H.J. has his own room and a yard to play in. Ontaria's sister lives nearby and helps care for J.D.H.J. when Ontaria is at work. J.D.H.J. often plays with Ontaria's sister's children. Ontaria's sister-in-law also lives in the area and helps Ontaria by providing her with a car and assisting with care for J.D.H.J. Ontaria's mother has an active role in J.D.H.J.'s daily life. She usually picks him up from school and watches him until Ontaria returns home from work. J.D.H.J. regularly attends church with his family. Ontaria also has an older daughter, who spends the majority of her time in Burlington with her father.

         Justin recently went to school to get his x-ray technician's license and, at the time of trial, worked as a limited x-ray technician. Previously, Justin worked odd jobs and welded for his grandfather. In 2013, Justin was ordered to pay child support. As of trial, he had paid $894 in support out of the $4472 due.

         Justin has criminal history. In 2004, Justin pleaded guilty to assault causing injury after getting into a fight. Justin was placed on probation, which he violated. In 2011 or 2012, Justin was arrested and charged with several drug trafficking offenses, including distribution of cocaine and marijuana. In 2015, to resolve the charges, Justin pleaded guilty to attempted possession of a controlled substance. He admitted he bought and sold prescription medications, including cancer medications he stole from his maternal aunt. He was placed on probation, which he violated on several occasions when he tested positive for marijuana. As a result, Justin was jailed for six days. At the time he was jailed, J.D.H.J. was in his physical care. While in jail on his probation violation, Justin got into an altercation with a detention officer and threatened to kill him. Also, while still detained on his probation violation, Justin became upset and broke a sprinkler head off of the fire suppression system and flooded the jail. He was charged with and pleaded guilty to criminal offenses arising out of these two incidents.

         Justin lives with his fiancée in a single family home in the Dallas area. Justin has another son from a prior relationship who is in his physical care. J.D.H.J. tries to emulate his half-brother, who is three years older. Justin's parents and grandparents also take an active role in J.D.H.J.'s life and provide care for J.D.H.J. At times, Justin's parents even transported J.D.H.J. between Iowa ...

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