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In re Marriage of Gupton

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 21, 2017

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF CAROL LYNN GUPTON AND WENDEE KAY BROWN Upon the Petition of CAROL LYNN GUPTON, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning WENDEE KAY BROWN, Respondent-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Jeffrey L. Larson, Judge.

         Wendee Kay Brown appeals the child custody and division of property provisions of the district court's decree dissolving her marriage to Carol Lynn Gupton. AFFIRMED.

          Michael J. Winter, Council Bluffs, for appellant.

          Scott D. Strait, Council Bluffs, for appellee.

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

          BOWER, Judge.

         Wendee Kay Brown appeals the child custody and division of property provisions of the district court's decree dissolving her marriage to Carol Lynn Gupton. Wendee claims the district court should have granted her physical care of the children, considered Carol's premarital assets in dividing the parties' assets and debts, valued Carol's business at $10, 000, and entered a qualified domestic relations order. We find the district court properly awarded shared physical care, properly divided the parties' assets and debts, and entered an appropriate qualified domestic relations order. We affirm the district court.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Wendee and Carol began their relationship in 1994. They started cohabiting the same year. After a brief separation they began building a new house together in Carter Lake, Iowa, in 2000. Carter Lake is located west of the Missouri River on eastern edge of Omaha. Wendee gave birth to a daughter in 2004 and a son in 2010. Carol legally adopted the daughter in 2008 and the son in 2010. After same sex marriage was legalized in Iowa, Wendee and Carol married on September 4, 2010.

         Wendee worked for the Omaha Fire Department throughout the relationship, at times working twenty-four hour shifts. At the time of dissolution, Carol worked for the City of Papillion Fire Department, where she started in 2014. She previously was self-employed selling public access defibrillators.

         Carol filed a petition for dissolution on September 24, 2015. Wendee and Carol separated in February 2016. Carol moved to Papillion, Nebraska, roughly sixteen miles from Carter Lake. Carol now lives with her paramour, Elizabeth. Elizabeth has shared physical care of her own five children.

         Trial was held July 19 and a dissolution decree was entered August 31. The district court awarded joint legal custody and shared physical care of the parties' minor children and divided the couple's property. Wendee and Carol filed motions to enlarge or amend findings, pursuant to Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.904(2), on September 6 and September 9 respectively. The district court entered its ruling on the post-trial motions September 26. Wendee filed a notice of appeal on October 24, 2016.

         II. Standard of Review

         Equitable actions are reviewed de novo. Iowa R. App. P. 6.907. We 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). Because the district court is in a unique position to hear the evidence, we defer to the district court's determinations of credibility. In re Marriage of Brown, 487 N.W.2d 331, 332 (Iowa 1992). While our review is de novo, the district court is given latitude to make ...


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