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In re Marriage of Hinds

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 13, 2017

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF MARKEEN ADELE STARIN-TODD HINDS AND JOHN CARL HINDS Upon the Petition of MARKEEN ADELE STARIN-TODD HINDS, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning JOHN CARL HINDS, Respondent-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Sioux County, Jeffrey A. Neary, Judge.

         John Hinds appeals the economic provisions of the decree dissolving his marriage to Markeen Hinds. AFFIRMED.

          John S. Moeller of John S. Moeller, P.C., Sioux City, for appellant.

          Elizabeth A. Row of Elizabeth A. Row, P.C., Sioux City, for appellee.

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

          MULLINS, Judge.

         John Hinds appeals the economic provisions of the district court's decree dissolving his marriage to Markeen Hinds. He claims the district court erred in awarding spousal support, certain property, and trial attorney fees to Markeen. Markeen requests appellate attorney fees. Upon our de novo review, we affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         The parties were in a relationship for approximately twenty-two years and married since 2004. They have no children together. On December 4, 2015, Markeen filed a petition for dissolution of marriage. The matter came on for trial on August 31, 2016.

         At the time of trial, John was forty-seven years old and in good health. He has a high school diploma. In the past, John has worked as a millwright, a painter, and a welder, earning an income of $24, 026.00 in 2011, $36, 107.00 in 2012, $49, 215.00 in 2013, $51, 183.00 in 2014, and $43, 847.00 in 2015. However, at the time of trial, John was unemployed and caring for his elderly father full time, without compensation. His receipt of unemployment insurance benefits in the amount of $350.00 per week was soon ending, and he intended to look for suitable work near where his father was residing.

         At the time of trial, Markeen was sixty-one years old with known health issues.[1] She has a GED. In the past, Markeen has worked as a school cook and has experience performing janitorial work, walking beans, and working at restaurants and bars. Markeen did not work outside the home for the majority of the parties' marriage. Markeen is not eligible for social security benefits upon retirement. At the time of trial, Markeen was living with her son from a prior marriage and his family while caring for her grandchildren full time. She was not otherwise employed.

         In 1996, John purchased an acreage in Sioux County with the intent he and Markeen would live there together. In 2012, Markeen was involved in an automobile accident for which she received settlement funds in the net amount of $16, 263.30. Markeen used most of the funds to purchase real estate property in Minnesota and did not tell John about the settlement or the property.

         The district court entered a decree dissolving the parties' marriage on September 13, 2016. The district court ordered the parties' acreage be sold and the net proceeds divided in proportion to the length of the marriage. The court awarded the Minnesota property to Markeen as nonmarital property. The court further distributed the parties' remaining assets and debts and determined John should pay $2500.00 to Markeen as a property equalization payment. The court ordered John to pay spousal support to Markeen in the amount of $500.00 per month for ten years or until either party's death or Markeen's remarriage, secured by a life insurance policy. Finally, the court ordered John to pay Markeen's attorney fees in the amount of $6237.57 and all court costs.

         John filed a motion to enlarge and amend the court's findings pursuant to Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.904(2). John requested, among other things, the court strike the award of reimbursement spousal support, reduce the equalization payment, amend its order to include the Minnesota property in the division of marital property, and reduce the attorney fee award. The court entered an order amending its findings of fact and conclusions of law "insofar as the type of alimony awarded here is more appropriately described as rehabilitative or transitional ...


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