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In re Marriage of Larsen

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 6, 2017

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF LYNN MARIE LARSEN AND ROGER WAYNE LARSEN Upon the Petition of LYNN MARIE LARSEN, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning ROGER WAYNE LARSEN, Respondent-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Story County, Michael J. Moon, Judge.

         Roger Wayne Larsen appeals the district court's order requiring him to pay a postsecondary education subsidy.

          Erin M. Carr of Carr & Wright, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant.

          Nicole S. Facio of Newbrough Law Firm, L.L.P., Ames, for appellee.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.

          TABOR, JUDGE.

         On H.M.L.'s first day of class at Iowa State University, her divorced parents returned to court to litigate their required contributions toward her postsecondary education expenses under Iowa Code section 598.21F (2016). The district court ordered each parent to pay $6629.73 toward their daughter's education costs. Roger Larsen appeals that order, arguing the district court erred in calculating her total college expenses and did not require an adequate contribution from H.M.L. Because we find good cause existed for the subsidy ordered, we affirm.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         Roger Larsen and Lynn Jones were married in 1995 and divorced in 2015. Lynn currently works in the residence department at Iowa State, earning approximately $77, 000 annually. Roger works for the Iowa Department of Transportation and also earns income from the military reserves, for a total of $110, 000 annually. They have three children, but only the college subsidy for their daughter H.M.L. is at issue in this case.

         In entering the dissolution decree in August 2015, the district court adopted the parties' partial stipulation, including a postsecondary education subsidy provision.[1] In regard to the postsecondary education subsidies for their three children, Roger and Lynn stipulated:

Postsecondary education subsidy. In the event any child pursues a course of study or training beyond high school education under the circumstances contemplated by Iowa Code section 598.21F, each of the parties shall contribute toward the costs of that study or training as provided for by section 598.21F(c). The parties' custodial 529 accounts[2] for each child shall first be used to discharge their share of their contributions under this provision but neither party shall be able to avoid contribution based upon any claims of alienation or estrangement. These accounts shall be equally divided with each party having an account for each child. The value[] on [this] account[] as of March 31, 2015 was as follows: . . . H.M.L. ($ 63, 107.24). . . . The parties shall be free to continue to add funds to these accounts but are not required to do so, however the balances on each of these accounts should not be reduced below half of the amounts above unless due to market conditions. The parties acknowledge that these accounts are for the children and will not be used for another purpose or withheld from any of the children.

         One year later, Lynn filed an application for a hearing to determine the postsecondary education subsidy for H.M.L.'s college costs. Lynn filed the application because H.M.L. accepted admission to Iowa State University and began classes on August 22, 2016. The court held a hearing on H.M.L.'s postsecondary education subsidy, also on August 22, 2016. Both parties submitted evidence related to the total costs of H.M.L.'s attendance at Iowa State.

         Roger urged the district court to calculate the total cost of attendance as follows:

Tuition

$7098.00

Room

$4487.00

Board

$3831.00

Fees

$1278.40

Books

$ 588.80

Sorority dues

$0

Cash allowance

$0

Total

$16, 694.40[3]

         Using his $16, 694.40 figure as the total cost of attendance, Roger claimed his postsecondary education subsidy should total $0 for H.M.L's education. According to Roger, the district court should have subtracted $6025.00 in scholarships; $5500 in loans; $2869.11 in H.M.L's existing financial resources;[4]and $6000 representing H.M.L.'s potential income. According to Roger, adding in the potential income would result in a surplus of $3699.71 for H.M.L., and therefore, neither he nor Lynn need to pay a postsecondary education subsidy.

         The district court, in its October 5, 2016 amended order, calculated the ...


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