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Lillie v. Lillie

Court of Appeals of Iowa

October 11, 2017

LAURA C. LILLIE, n/k/a/ LAURA C. SMIDDY, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MITCHELL R. LILLIE, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Jeffrey L. Larson(Contempt), and James M. Richardson (Petition to Modify), Judges.

         Mitchell Lillie appeals the district court orders denying his motions to dismiss.

          Brady J. Hoekstra, Omaha, Nebraska, for appellant.

          Michael J. Winter of The Law Office of Michael J. Winter, Council Bluffs, for appellee.

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

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         Mitchell Lillie appeals the district court orders denying his motions to dismiss a modification of a Nebraska dissolution decree and a contempt action. We find the district court did not have jurisdiction to consider either motion. We reverse the district court.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Laura Lillie, now known as Laura Smiddy, filed a statement for registration of a foreign judgment from the district court of Douglas County, Nebraska, in the district court for Pottawattamie County, Iowa, on November 23, 2015. The record does not contain proof of service on Mitchell of this registration. On May 26, 2016, Laura filed a motion to hold Mitchell in contempt for failure to pay child support. Mitchell was served but filed a motion to dismiss, contesting Iowa's jurisdiction.

         On December 8, Laura filed a petition for modification concerning the original decree entered by the Nebraska court. Mitchell again filed a motion to dismiss. The Iowa court held a hearing and denied both motions to dismiss. Mitchell filed an application for interlocutory appeal. Our supreme court granted the application on March 6.

         II. Standard of Review

         Issues of jurisdiction under the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), enacted as Iowa Code chapter 598B, are reviewed de novo. In re B.C., 845 N.W.2d 77, 79 (Iowa Ct. App. 2014). "Jurisdictional requirements are mandatory, not discretionary." Id. If the court does not have jurisdiction it is required to dismiss the action. Id.

         III. Modification Action

         Mitchell claims the Iowa court did not have jurisdiction to consider the modification. In order to modify a custody determination made by a foreign court an Iowa court must either be the home state of the child or the child's home state must have "declined to exercise jurisdiction on the ground that [Iowa] is the more appropriate forum." Iowa Code § 598B.201 (2016). The Iowa court must also find that the foreign court has determined "it no longer has exclusive, continuing jurisdiction . . . or that a court of this state would be a more convenient forum" or determine "the ...


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