IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF STEVEN J. MATHIS AND DANA P. MATHIS Upon the Petition of STEVEN J. MATHIS, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning DANA P. MATHIS, n/k/a DANA P. WELSH, Respondent-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Allamakee County, John J.
appeals the district court decision denying her request to
modify the physical care and child support provisions of the
parties' dissolution decree. AFFIRMED.
W. Fern of Putnam, Fern & Thompson Law Office, P.L.L.C.,
Decorah, for appellant.
J. Parrish of Miller, Pearson, Gloe, Burns, Beatty &
Parrish, P.L.C., Decorah, for appellee.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Potterfield and Bower, JJ.
Welsh, formerly known as Dana Mathis, appeals the district
court decision denying her request to modify the physical
care and child support provisions of the parties'
dissolution decree. We affirm the district court's
decision denying the request to modify the current joint
physical care arrangement to grant Dana physical care of the
children. We also find the evidence did not support a
deviation from the child support guidelines. We find the
district court did not abuse its discretion in denying
Dana's request for trial attorney fees. Both parties
request appellate attorney fees, and we deny their requests.
We affirm the decision of the district court.
Background Facts & Proceedings
Mathis and Dana were previously married. They are the parents
of six children. On October 26, 2011, the parties entered
into a stipulation providing they would have joint legal
custody of the children and joint physical care. The parties
lived next door to each other in Lansing, Iowa, and agreed to
exchange the children on alternating weeks. Steven agreed to
pay child support of $700 per month for the six children and
to maintain health insurance for them. The district court
incorporated the parties' stipulation into the
18, 2015, Dana filed a petition requesting modification of
the physical care and child support provisions of the
dissolution decree. She claimed the children spent most of
their time with her and asked to have the children placed in
her physical care. She also requested Steven pay a greater
amount of child support even if there was no modification of
physical care. In response, Steven asked to have his child
support obligation reduced. In addition, Steven filed an
application seeking to have Dana found in contempt for
failing to send the children to stay at his house during the
times specified in the decree.
hearing was held on September 28-29, 2016. The oldest child
was no longer a minor. Dana was forty-four years old at the time
of the hearing. She was employed as a part-time waitress and
expected to earn about $19, 000 per year. Dana testified the
children spent the majority of their time at her house and
she paid for most of their expenses. Steven was forty-seven
years old at the time of the hearing. He was employed as a
warehouse supervisor at Cabela's in Prairie du Chien,
Wisconsin, and had annual income of $52, 000. Steven
testified Dana was not cooperative in sending the children
over to his house.
district court denied the request to modify the physical care
provision of the dissolution decree. The court found,
"The evidence presented is not sufficient to carry the
burden of proof in favor of a change in custody or
placement." The court determined Steven's child
support obligation for five children should be $490 per
month, with the amount decreasing as the number of minor
children was reduced over time. The court denied Steven's
request to have Dana found to be in contempt, stating there
was no evidence she willfully denied Steven his parenting
time with the children. Dana now appeals the decision of the
Standard of Review
equitable action, our review is de novo. See Iowa R.
App. P. 6.907. "In equity cases, especially when
considering the credibility of witnesses, the court gives
weight to the fact findings of the district court, but is not
bound by them." Iowa R. App. P. 6.904(3)(g). Our
controlling consideration is the best ...