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In re Marriage of Viers

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 19, 2017

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF LITA ELAINE VIERS AND WILLIAM G. VIERS, JR. Upon the Petition of LITA ELAINE VIERS n/k/a LITA ELAINE JOHNSON, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning WILLIAM G. VIERS, JR., Respondent-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Madison County, Paul R. Huscher, Judge.

         Lita Viers appeals the order modifying the child custody provisions of the decree dissolving her marriage to Bill Viers.

          Jaclyn M. Zimmerman of Grefe & Sidney, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant.

          Paul A. Miller of Miller Law Office, Fairfield, for appellee.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and McDonald, JJ.

          DOYLE, Judge.

         Lita Viers appeals the order modifying the child custody provisions of the decree dissolving her marriage to Bill Viers. She alleges transferring physical care of their child to Bill is contrary to the child's best interests. She instead requests modification of the decree to grant her sole legal custody of the child. She also asks us to require the parties to contribute a proportionate share of the court costs and guardian ad litem fees incurred in the modification action.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         Lita and Bill have one child together, who was born in 2010. The 2014 decree dissolving their marriage provides the parties with joint legal custody of the child. The decree granted Lita physical care subject to visitation with Bill.

         A year after entry of the dissolution decree, Lita filed a petition to modify the visitation provisions of the decree based on Bill's move to Cedar Rapids. She later amended her petition based on allegations the child had suffered abuse while in Bill's care. She requested sole legal custody of the child and asked the court to eliminate Bill's visitation. In an amended answer, Bill asked the court to place the child in his physical care.

         The court appointed a guardian ad litem for the child. In a detailed and thorough thirty-five-page report to the court, based on his interviews and observations, the guardian ad litem recommended joint legal custody with physical care of the child placed with Bill.[1]

         The district court also ordered a custody evaluation at the guardian ad litem's request.[2] The custody evaluator interviewed and observed the parties and the child over a three-month period. In her report, the evaluator also recommended placing the child in Bill's physical care.

         Following trial, the district court entered an order modifying the decree. The court continued joint legal custody of the child but placed the child's physical care with Bill. The court also taxed the guardian ad litem's fees to Lita. After the court denied her motion to enlarge and amend, Lita appealed.

         II. Modification ...


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