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Deiman v. Leppert

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 6, 2017

TONY DEIMAN, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
MELISSA LEPPERT, Respondent-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Michael J. Shubatt, Judge.

         A father appeals from a district court decree awarding physical care of his daughter to the child's mother.

          Natalia H. Blaskovich of Reynolds & Kenline, L.L.P., Dubuque, for appellant.

          Melissa Leppert, Dubuque, appellee pro se.

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

          VAITHESWARAN, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         A father appeals a district court decree granting physical care of his daughter to the child's mother.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Tony Deiman and Melissa Leppert are the unmarried parents of a child, born in 2006. Deiman was a resident of Minnesota. Leppert and the child were residents of Iowa.[1] The child lived with Leppert exclusively and continuously. When the child was eight years old, Deiman petitioned for custody, visitation, and child support. Leppert failed to respond to Deiman's discovery requests and, as a sanction, was prohibited from offering trial evidence other than her own testimony.

         At trial, Deiman testified to a litany of improper behaviors by Leppert, some dating back several years. For her part, Leppert insisted the child would be better off in the care of the parent with whom she had always lived.

         The district court questioned the child about her preferences. The child expressed a desire to remain with her mother. The court granted Leppert physical care.

         Deiman moved for enlarged findings and conclusions. The court expanded the decree but declined to alter its conclusion that Leppert should exercise physical care. Deiman appealed.

         II. Physical Care

         Deiman argues the district court (1) failed to consider several relevant statutory factors as well as the evidence supporting them, (2) gave excessive weight to the child's preference, and (3) gave too much credence to Leppert in light of her ...


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