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In re Marriage of Arevalo

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 13, 2017

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF ERENIA DOLORES AREVALO AND EDGAR SIFREDO AREVALO-LUNA Upon the Petition of ERENIA DOLORES AREVALO, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning EDGAR SIFREDO AREVALO-LUNA, Respondent-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, David M. Porter, Judge.

         Erenia Arevalo appeals from the dissolution decree and the district court's denial of her request for spousal support.

          Katherine S. Sargent, Des Moines, for appellant.

          Edgar Sifredo Arevalo-Luna, Des Moines, appellee pro se.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Potterfield and Mullins, JJ.

          POTTERFIELD, JUDGE.

         Erenia Arevalo appeals from the decree dissolving her marriage to Edgar Arevalo-Luna. Erenia maintains the district court should have awarded her spousal support as she requested. She also asks that we award her $1500 in appellate attorney fees.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         Erenia was born in El Salvador in 1966. She attended only five years of school before coming to the United States in 1995. Edgar was also born in El Salvador, in 1974. He completed twelve years of education before attending three and one half years of college in El Salvador. He came to the United States in 1994. Edgar has taken English-language classes both in El Salvador and at a local community college.

         Erenia and Edgar married in in 2001. They had twins, born in 1999, and a third child, born in 2005. At the time of the dissolution trial, the parties agreed they would share joint legal custody of the children and Erenia would have physical care of the children. Edgar was ordered to pay Erenia $1066 per month in child support for the three children.[1]

         The only disputed issue at the time of dissolution was whether Edgar should be required to pay Erenia spousal support. Erenia asked the court to order Edger to pay her $400 per month starting in June 2018 (when the twins are expected to graduate high school) until June 2024 (when Edgar's child support obligation for the youngest child was expected to cease), at which point she asked the court to increase the monthly award to $1000. Erenia asked that the $1000 award be "permanent." Edgar was unrepresented at the dissolution trial; when asked what he requested the judge to do with regard to spousal support, he testified, "Whatever the judge thinks is fair because I do need something to live on."

         Erenia has a history of sporadic, unskilled employment. Before coming to the United States, she worked in a restaurant and at a store that sold dairy products. Her first job in the United States was working at a McDonald's, which she did for approximately five years. She did not work outside the home for a period after the children were born. In 2012, Erenia began working in food services for the Des Moines Public Schools. She works approximately five and one half hours on days children are in school; she does not work and is not paid on days the children have off, such as weekends, extended holiday breaks, and summer vacation. Her position is an IPERS-covered position, though she has not yet vested in the pension fund. In 2015, Erenia returned to work at

         McDonald's as a part-time second job. She earned her highest wages that year, with her tax returns showing a combined income of $15, 966. Based on the amount of her earnings, Erenia qualified for earned income credit; she received over $7000 in a tax refund, actually making her net income more than her gross income. Once the tax refund is added to her net earnings, Erenia brought home almost $23, 000 in 2015.

         Edgar has typically worked two jobs since coming to the United States. At the time of the dissolution hearing in March 2016, Edgar testified he had worked at Southeast Polk Community School District for approximately seven years. His job was also an IPERS-covered position. He worked as a custodian or janitor and was in charge of the other janitors who also worked second shift. In 2015, he earned almost $46, 000 in his primary job. Edgar also worked a second fulltime job at Walmart. His 2015 tax returns show a combined income of $65, 599. In 2014, Edgar had a combined income of $61, 902, and in 2013, he had a combined income of $53, 758. On top of the $1066 Edgar is to pay Erenia for child support each month, Edgar also has a child support obligation for three children born outside of his marriage, with that ...


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