IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF NATALIE RAE HAMMER AND CHRISTOPHER MICHAEL HOLLAND Upon the Petition of NATALIE RAE HAMMER, Petitioner-Appellee/Cross-Appellant, And ConcerningCHRISTOPHER MICHAEL HOLLAND, Respondent-Appellant/Cross-Appellee.
from the Iowa District Court for Winnebago County, DeDra L.
father appeals the denial of his petition to modify child
support and a mother appeals the court's denial of her
request for trial attorney fees.
A. Reindl of Reindl Law Firm, Mason City, for
S. Knutson of Davis, Brown, Koehn, Shors & Roberts, P.C.,
Des Moines, for appellee/cross-appellant.
P.J., and Potterfield and Mullins, JJ.
Holland (Chris) appeals the modification court's decision
to deny modification of the dissolution of marriage decree
between him and Natalie Hammer. Chris asserts because the
initial stipulated decree failed to state how child support
was calculated it cannot serve as the basis in future
modifications. He further asserts the modification court
should have found child support anew. On cross-appeal,
Natalie requests we reverse the modification court's
denial of attorney fees and further seeks appellate attorney
fees. Because the modification court appropriately considered
the child support amount as set forth in the decree, and
Chris failed to show a substantial change of circumstances,
we affirm. We also affirm the modification court's denial
of attorney fees for Natalie, but we award her $5000 fees on
Backgrounds Facts and Proceedings
and Natalie's marriage in 1999 produced four children,
all of whom are still minors. A stipulation and decree of
dissolution of marriage were filed on April 27, 2015,
granting the parties joint legal and physical custody of the
children, with Natalie having somewhat more parenting time
than Chris. Chris was responsible for paying Natalie $2200
each month in child support. The stipulation provided
uncovered medical expenses "shall be paid by the parents
in proportion to their respective net incomes."
Accordingly, Chris was responsible for the children's
health insurance and eighty-five percent of uncovered medical
expenses, while Natalie was responsible for fifteen percent.
directly related to child support, but clearly contemplated
by the parties, was the substantial division of assets. The
parties agreed Chris would pay Natalie $350, 000 for her
share of his business, $2500 per month for 120 months in
additional property settlement, and $75, 000 per year payable
as "salary" for twelve years as a former employee
of C.R. Holland. No spousal support was ordered.
time of the dissolution, Natalie was not employed; however,
her imputed income as reflected on her October 28, 2014
affidavit of financial status was $24, 000 annually. Since
the decree was filed, she has taught one year at Waldorf
College as an adjunct faculty earning $29, 000, as well as
worked at the YMCA, two hours per week at $8.25 per hour. Her
financial affidavit filed prior to the modification hearing
listed her annual gross income at $29, 124. Chris owned and
worked for numerous businesses including C.R. Holland,
Holland Moving and Rigging Services, Atlas Enterprises, and
Grok, L.L.C. Chris submitted a financial affidavit on October
14, 2014, showing his gross annual income at $68, 775. His
affidavit filed prior to the modification hearing listed his
gross monthly income as $12, 526.76 or approximately $150,
321.12 per year.
spite of this apparent increase in his income, Chris filed an
application to modify child support on April 8, 2016, less
than a year after the entry of the decree, asserting he had
an involuntary reduction of his income. Natalie resisted. The
matter came on for trial in September 2016. While reviewing
the original child support stipulated amount, the court found
"many factors went into the parties' agreement"
as to how the child support figure was determined.
Additionally, as the record was developed, the modification
court noted Natalie's expert opined Chris's 2014 to
2015 income changed from a loss of $566, 801 to a gain of
$294, 000, an increase of $861, 000. Finding no support for
Chris's assertion his income had significantly decreased,
and hence no evidence to support his claim of a substantial
change of circumstances not contemplated by the decree, the
modification court denied Chris's petition to modify.
Chris appeals, and Natalie cross-appeals.
Standard of Review
review the modification of a dissolution decree de novo.
In re Marriage of Wessels, 542 N.W.2d 486, 490 (Iowa
1995). However, we will not disturb the trial court's