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In re Marriage of Albertsen

Court of Appeals of Iowa

October 11, 2017

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF CYNTHIA LYNN ALBERTSEN AND MARK DUANE ALBERTSEN Upon the Petition of CYNTHIA LYNN ALBERTSEN, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning MARK DUANE ALBERTSEN, Respondent-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Tama County, Christopher L. Bruns, Judge.

         Cynthia Albertsen appeals from the decree dissolving her marriage to Mark Albertsen. AFFIRMED.

          Barry S. Kaplan and C. Aron Vaughn of Kaplan & Frese, L.L.P., Marshalltown, for appellant.

          Cheryl L. Weber and Erich D. Priebe of Dutton, Braun, Staack & Hellman, P.L.C., Waterloo, for appellee.

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

          VAITHESWARAN, Presiding Judge.

         Cynthia (Cindy) and Mark Albertsen married in 2000 and divorced sixteen years later. Cindy appeals the provisions of a dissolution decree (1) granting Mark physical care of the children and (2) extending property equalization payments over eighty months.

         I. Physical Care

         Cindy and Mark had two children, born in 2003 and 2006. Mark was an educator. He grew up in Dysart, Iowa, and became a principal there in 2005. He remained in Dysart at the time of trial.

         Cindy had a degree in exercise science. After the children were born, she testified to becoming a "stay-at-home mom." In time, she took on part-time coaching positions.

         In 2013, Cindy enrolled in a graduate sports management program. The program required some travel to the Illinois campus and a three-month internship, which she completed in Alabama. Mark served as primary caretaker of the children while she was in Alabama.

         Cindy graduated in a year and a half. She applied for ninety-six career-related jobs around the country, including in Iowa. She was not hired within the State, and, in mid-2014, she accepted a temporary position with the Oakland Raiders in California. Later the same year, the Raiders hired her full time. Cindy expected Mark and the children to move to California at the end of the school year but later learned Mark signed a contract with the Dysart school system for the upcoming year.

         Cindy petitioned for a dissolution of the marriage. The district court granted Mark temporary physical care of the children and, following trial, made that arrangement permanent.

         On appeal, Cindy contends "the best interest of the children dictates that they be placed in [her] primary care." See Iowa Code § 598.41(3) (2015) (setting forth factors for consideration in determining what custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child); In re Marriage of Peake, No. 08-0131, 2009 WL 138778 at *3 (Iowa Ct. App. Jan. 22, 2009) (considering factors in primary physical care determination); see also In re Marriage of Hansen, 733 N.W.2d 683, 696 (Iowa 2007) ("Although Iowa Code section 598.41(3) does not directly apply to physical care decisions, we have held that the factors listed here as well as other facts and circumstances are relevant in determining whether joint physical care is in the best interest of the child."). She asserts her decision to relocate to California was not "unilateral" and the district court failed to consider the surrounding circumstances, including her long-time role as primary caretaker. See In re Marriage of Frederici, 338 N.W.2d 156, 160 (Iowa 1983) (noting in a modification action, courts consider surrounding circumstances of parental relocation, including "the reason for ...


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