IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF MELINDA S. RATH AND KEITH A. RATH Upon the Petition of MELINDA S. RATH, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning KEITH A. RATH, Respondent-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Benton County, Ian K.
husband appeals from the dissolution decree.
A. Rath, Shellsburg, appellant pro se.
Caitlin L. Slessor and Kerry A. Finley of Shuttleworth &
Ingersoll, P.L.C., Cedar Rapids, for appellee.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Potterfield and Bower, JJ.
Rath appeals from the decree dissolving his marriage to
Melinda Rath. While Keith raises a number of issues on
appeal, his main contention is that the district court should
not have awarded the parties' marital home to Melinda in
order for her to sell it. Melinda asks us to affirm the
decree as issued by the district court and to award her $5000
in appellate attorney fees.
as Keith raises a justiciable issue, we review "a decree
granting dissolution of marriage [and] determining property
rights . . . de novo." In re Woodward's
Marriage, 229 N.W.2d 274, 276-77 (Iowa 1975).
number of issues Keith raises were either not decided against
him or were not preserved for our review. He claims the court
should not have believed Melinda's testimony that her
father provided approximately $44, 000 in gifts to the
parties in order to help with the construction of their home.
We note the court did mention the gifts, but the court noted
Melinda testified her father "gave the money to
us, " so the court did not set aside the funds
as nonmarital assets. See Iowa Code § 598.21(6)
(2015) (stating property or gifts received by either party is
not subject to property division except upon a finding that
refusal to divide it is inequitable). The court's
reference to the gifts, without further action, is not an
adverse ruling against Keith, and we do not consider it
Keith maintains the court should have allowed him to
introduce an exhibit, which he claimed was a copy of a page
that had been filed with the recorder's office and
contained a notarized example of Melinda's signature.
After an objection by Melinda, the court ruled there was
nothing within the exhibit that made it self-authenticating,
and thus, there was insufficient foundation for the exhibit
to be admitted. Keith did not make an offer of proof at the
time the court excluded his evidence, so his claim is not
preserved. See In re Marriage of Daniels, 568 N.W.2d
51, 55 n.2 (Iowa Ct. App. 1997) ("[W]e recognize an
offer of proof is necessary to preserve error in the
exclusion of evidence."). Moreover, Keith has failed to
make a legal argument concerning the alleged error made by
the district court in determining the exhibit was
inadmissible. "Pro se or not, parties to an appeal are
expected to follow applicable rules. . . . Pro se parties
receive no preferential treatment." State v.
Martin, No. 11-1621, 2012 WL 45138921, at *5 (Iowa Ct.
App. Oct. 3, 2012) (citing Hays v. Hays, 612 N.W.2d
817, 819 (Iowa Ct. App. 2000)).
Keith maintains the court allowed Melinda more latitude in
testifying about issues pertaining to Keith's credibility
and lack of honesty than the court gave him in his testimony.
The court allowed Melinda to testify about Keith's
conviction for filing fraudulent tax returns, which occurred
in 2013. The court was required to do so. See Iowa
R. Evid. 5.609(a)(2) (stating "evidence [of any crime]
must be admitted if the crime involved dishonesty or false
statement"); State v. Harrington, 800 N.W.2d
46, 51 (Iowa 2011) ("[W]e hold Iowa Rule of Evidence
5.609(a)(2) gives the district court no discretion to exclude
a witness's prior conviction if it involves dishonesty or
a false statement. Prior convictions that involve dishonesty
or false statement are automatically admissible for
impeachment purposes."). The court did not allow Keith
to expand upon his testimony that Melinda had committed a
forgery twenty-five years earlier for which she had not been
convicted and for which it appeared Keith may have received a
conviction, as he testified, "And I took all the blame.
I took 100 percent of the blame on it because I just
didn't want to see her get in trouble, get problems with
it." Additionally, when Keith began testifying about the
school and attendance records of the parties' minor
child, the court reminded Keith the parties had already
stipulated to all issues concerning the care and custody of
the child and the court would not be considering that issue.
Keith has neither made a legal argument nor offered any
authority to support these purported errors, and we will not
consider them further. Iowa R. App. P. 6.903(2)(g)(3)
("Failure to cite authority in support of an issue may
be deemed waiver of that issue.").
Keith takes issue with the court's award of the marital
home to Melinda. In the decree, the court stated:
The Court finds [Melinda] should be awarded the property to
sell within a year and be allowed to keep all proceeds from
the sale up to one-half of the net proceeds that would have
been realized but for [Keith's tax] liens. Additionally,
if execution of the liens results in more than one-half of
the net proceeds of the sale being used to satisfy the liens,
[Keith] shall, within 120 days of the sale being final, repay
[Melinda] for the portion of her one-half share of net equity
that went to pay the liens.
Keith does not contest that the marital home has a number of
IRS liens attached to it due to his criminal activities, and
he conceded at trial that he should bear the sole
responsibility in discharging them. Rather, Keith maintains
he should have been allowed to pay Melinda for her half of
the home and keep the property if he could obtain financing.
Alternatively, he complains Melinda was the party who was
allowed to be responsible ...