IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF CHRISTIAN A. MARSH AND SALLY J. MARSH Upon the Petition of CHRISTIAN A. MARSH, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning SALLY J. MARSH, Respondent-Appellee.
from the Iowa District Court for Clinton County, Henry W.
Latham II, Judge.
Marsh appeals a district court order denying his request to
modify the physical-care provision of the decree dissolving
his marriage to Sally Marsh. AFFIRMED.
Drew Chambers of Holleran, Shaw, Murphy & Stoutner,
Clinton, for appellant.
D. Bruhn of Farwell & Bruhn Law Firm, Clinton, for
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.
from being unemployed and living with his parents to holding
a professional job, buying a house, and starting a family
with his new wife. Christian Marsh contends his increased
stability constitutes a material and substantial change in
circumstances not contemplated seven years ago when he and
Sally Marsh divorced just four months after the birth of
their son, N.J.M. Christian appeals the district court's
denial of his request to modify the physical-care provision
of the divorce decree. Although Christian's steady
employment, housing, and family commitment may qualify as a
substantial change in circumstances, we do not find
N.J.M.'s best interests would be served by switching from
placement in Sally's physical care to shared physical
care. Accordingly, we affirm the district court's order.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
and Sally Marsh divorced in 2010. They have one child
together, N.J.M., who is now seven years old. At the time of
the decree, Christian did not have a job and stayed with his
parents. Sally worked for the local school district, teaching
students with behavior disorders.
decretal court awarded the parties joint legal custody of
N.J.M. and Sally physical care. The court granted Christian
visitation on alternating weekends, as well as one to two
evening visits each week. Over the summers, Christian was to
have one full week of visitation, increasing to two
nonconsecutive weeks once N.J.M. turned three. The court
ordered Christian to pay $300 a month in child support.
ensuing years, Christian furthered his education and gained
employment as a registered nurse. Sally continued to work as
a teacher. A few months after the entry of the decree, Sally
agreed to allow Christian to exercise additional visitation,
as his schedule allowed, and from that point on, he generally
had N.J.M. for several overnight visits each month. Christian
attended N.J.M.'s school conferences and, when his
schedule allowed it, N.J.M.'s medical appointments and
extracurricular activities. Christian never exercised his
allotted two weeks of summer visitation but, on at least two
occasions, took N.J.M. on multiple-day out-of-town trips.
27, 2016, Christian filed an application for modification of
the decree, alleging "material and substantial changes
in circumstances entitling [Christian] to be named as the
person having principle physical care of [N.J.M.] as well as
requiring [Sally] to pay child support for and on behalf of
the minor child." Sally filed a counterclaim requesting
additional child support from Christian due to the increase
in his income.
remarried in September 2016, and by the time of the
modification hearing in February 2017, Christian and his new
wife were expecting a baby and in the process of purchasing a
modification hearing, Christian revised his request to shared
care rather than physical care, reasoning his visitation with
N.J.M. had been "approaching" 50% of the time. The
parties agreed Christian had between eight and twelve
overnight visits with N.J.M. each month leading up to the
modification hearing, but the parties disagreed about the
amount of visitation taking place before Christian petitioned
the court to modify the decree. Christian contended Sally had
allowed slightly more visitation in the ...