IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF JANA JA VAN GENDEREN AND MICHAEL LEE VAN GENDEREN Upon the Petition of JANA JA VAN GENDEREN, Petitioner-Appellee/Cross-Appellant, And Concerning MICHAEL LEE VAN GENDEREN, Respondent-Appellant/Cross-Appellee.
from the Iowa District Court for Jasper County, Richard B.
appeals the parties' dissolution decree on the issues of
property division, spousal support, child support, and
guardian ad litem fees. Petitioner cross-appeals. AFFIRMED AS
Matthew B. Moore of The Law Offices of Matthew B. Moore,
P.L.L.C., Oskaloosa, for appellant.
B. Howie of Shindler, Anderson, Goplerud & Weese, P.C.,
West Des Moines, for appellee.
by Danilson, C.J., and Potterfield and Bower, JJ.
Van Genderen appeals the parties' dissolution decree on
the issues of property division, spousal support, child
support, and guardian ad litem fees. Jana Van Genderen
cross-appeals, claiming both spousal and child support
payments should be increased and requesting appellate
attorney fees. We affirm the district court as modified.
Background Facts and Proceedings
and Mike Van Genderen were divorced on March 17, 2016, after
seven and a half years of marriage, including nearly a
one-year separation. By agreement, Jana was granted physical
care of the parties' children subject to Mike's
visitation rights. The dissolution decree also divided the
parties' property, established spousal and child support,
and assessed court costs and guardian ad litem fees.
dissolution decree, the district court set out the testimony
of the parties regarding the value of property. However, on
many items, including personal property removed from the
marital residence by Jana, the corporation owned by Mike, and
the marital residence and adjacent shop, the district court
did not make a conclusive finding of value, but simply
disposed of the property to one party or the other. On other
items, the district court entered valuations that did not
specify the amount of marital appreciation, assigned values
corresponding to documents dated years before the trial even
though more up-to-date valuations were provided, and noted it
would not consider assets Mike had liquidated during the
marriage to pay debts. The district court also granted Jana
spousal support in the amount of $500 per month for
thirty-six months. The district court required Mike to pay
child support of $908.06 per month for two children and
$657.79 when only one child remained eligible for support.
Mike's request, a guardian ad litem (GAL) was appointed
as the issues surrounding the children were fiercely
contested prior to trial. In the decree, the district court
did not explicitly state how the GAL fees should be paid but
did order "the costs of this action shall be paid by
Michael." Jana testified she was unable to pay the GAL
fees. Mike asked the fees be divided equally between the
the decree, Mike filed a motion to amend and enlarge. The
district court corrected some portions of the decree, amended
others, and denied others, including Mike's request for
the division of the GAL fees. Mike appeals, claiming the
court inequitably divided the parties' property,
improperly granted spousal support, improperly calculated
child support, and improperly denied his request concerning
the GAL fees. Jana cross-appeals, claiming spousal and child
support should be increased and asking for appellate attorney
Standard of Review
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).
the allocation of court costs and GAL fees, the law "is
straightforward." See German v. Metcalf, No.
09-1470, 2010 WL 1875640, at *4 (Iowa Ct. App. May 12, 2010).
The district court "has a large discretion in the matter
of taxing costs and we will not ordinarily interfere
therewith." Neubauer v. Newcomb, 423 N.W.2d 26,
27-28 (Iowa Ct. App. 1988). Therefore, in addressing those
issues our standard of review is for abuse of discretion.
German, 2010 WL 1875640, at *4.
claims the district court acted improperly by failing to find
the value of assets or making ambiguous valuations of assets
resulting in an inequitable division of the marital property.
Mike claims the district court failed to make valuations for
the following: (1) the personal property Jana was awarded;
(2) Gendel, Inc., Mike's race promotions business; (3)
the marital residence, including how much, if any, should be
deducted for cracks in the basement wall; (4) Mike's
workshop; and (5) the amount of debt for a car formally in
Jana's possession but titled and subject to a loan in
Mike's name. Mike also claims the district court made
ambiguous valuations regarding: (1) Jana's premarital
IRA, (2) Mike's premarital annuity and IRA, (3)
Mike's mutual fund, and (4) the property equalization
supreme court has noted specific valuation of marital
property by the district court is important "(1) to
enable the reviewing court to assess whether an equitable
division of property was effected; and (2) to aid the parties
in better understanding their respective property awards,
which would, in some cases, dispense with the need for an
appeal." In re Marriage of Bonnette, 584 N.W.2d
713, 714 (Iowa Ct. App. 1998). The district court
failed to make sufficiently specific valuations of the
marital property in this case. From the district ...