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In re Marriage of Kruse

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 13, 2017

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF BENJAMIN P. KRUSE AND JESSICA L. KRUSE Upon the Petition of BENJAMIN P. KRUSE, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning JESSICA L. KRUSE, n/k/a JESSICA L. KNOCK, Respondent-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Clay County, Carl J. Petersen, Judge.

         Benjamin Kruse appeals the district court's order requiring him to pay a post-secondary education subsidy for his daughter.

          Matthew G. Sease of Kemp & Sease, Des Moines, and Randall G. Sease of Sease Law Firm, Hartley, for appellant.

          David A. Scott of Cornwall, Avery, Bjornstad & Scott, Spencer, for appellee.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, Judge.

         Benjamin Kruse appeals the district court's order requiring him to pay a postsecondary education subsidy for his daughter, Tari. We find Tari did not repudiate her father and affirm the district court's order.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Tari, born in 1997, is the child of Benjamin Kruse and Jessica Knock. Benjamin and Jessica married in 1998, divorced in 1999, remarried six months later, and were divorced again in 2000. Benjamin was granted visitation every other weekend, some holidays, and half of Tari's summer vacation. In 2000, Benjamin moved to Georgia and visited Tari once or twice a year. Benjamin returned in 2007 but only saw Tari sporadically.

         The relationship between Benjamin and Tari was troubled. In 2012 an exchange of text messages culminated with Tari stating she considered her step-father to be her real father. Tari also demanded Benjamin stay away from her. In 2014, Tari's last name was changed from Kruse to Knock, though she stated she had used Knock as her last name for "religious education, spelling bees, educational achievements, sport achievements, applications, FFA, 4H, Girl Scouts, etc." Tari's affidavit in support of her petition for name change also stated she wished to end the confusion of having two last names and for her last name to match that of the family with whom she lived.

         To support his position, Benjamin gives great weight to an interaction at Tari's high school graduation. Tari sent Benjamin an invitation, though she was uncertain if he would attend. At the graduation, Tari presented her mother and step-father with roses and gave them a hug. When she saw Benjamin, she approached him, gave him a hug, but did not present him with a rose. Benjamin was never informed of Tari's high school grades, her college plans, or her intended major.

         The district court noted Benjamin "has had only two contacts with Tari over the past several years. That contact was at his mother's funeral and Tari's graduation." Benjamin testified reestablishing visitation was difficult as there was always "something more important going on" when he would request visitation. Under examination by the district court, Benjamin stated he "gave up" trying to establish a relationship with Tari after his attempts were rebuffed.

         Tari attends college and brought an action to compel Benjamin to contribute to her postsecondary education on June 22, 2016. Trial was held January 4, 2017, and the district court required Benjamin to contribute $2000 per semester. Benjamin now appeals.

         II. ...


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