Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Marriage of Roetman

Court of Appeals of Iowa

October 11, 2017

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF MELISSA M. ROETMAN AND GABRIEL D. ROETMAN Upon the Petition of MELISSA M. ROETMAN, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning GABRIEL D. ROETMAN, Respondent-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Plymouth County, Duane E. Hoffmeyer, Judge.

         Gabriel Roetman appeals the custody and property-distribution provisions of the decree dissolving his marriage to Melissa Roetman.

          Andrew B. Howie of Shindler, Anderson, Goplerud & Weese, P.C., West Des Moines, for appellant.

          Amanda Van Wyhe of Van Wyhe Law Firm & Mediation Center, PLC, Sioux City, for appellee.

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

          DOYLE, JUDGE.

         Gabriel Roetman appeals the custody and property-distribution provisions of the decree dissolving his marriage to Melissa Roetman. He contends the district court should have granted him and Melissa joint physical care of their child rather than placing the child in Melissa's physical care. He also argues the district court should not have included the value of his premarital property in its property-division calculation. Upon our review, we affirm.

         I. Standard of Review.

         We review appeals from dissolution decrees, including challenges of child-placement and property-division determinations, de novo. See Iowa R. App. P. 6.907; see also In re Marriage of Kimbro, 826 N.W.2d 696, 698 (Iowa 2013); In re Marriage of Hynick, 727 N.W.2d 575, 577 (Iowa 2007). This entails an examination of the whole trial record to decide anew the issues raised on appeal. See In re Marriage of McDermott, 827 N.W.2d 671, 676 (Iowa 2013). Despite our de novo review, we give strong consideration to the district court's fact findings, especially with regard to witness credibility. See id.; see also Iowa R. App. P. 6.904(3)(g). This is because the district court, in making its credibility assessment, has the distinct advantage of listening and observing each witness's demeanor firsthand, while we must rely on a cold transcript. See In re Marriage of Udelhofen, 444 N.W.2d 473, 474 (Iowa 1989); In re Marriage of Vrban, 359 N.W.2d 420, 423 (Iowa 1984). In child-custody cases, the first and foremost consideration is the child's best interest. See In re Marriage of Hoffman, 867 N.W.2d 26, 32 (Iowa 2015); see also Iowa R. App. P. 6.904(3)(o). In determining how the parties' property should be distributed, the trial court has considerable latitude and should only be reversed if "there has been a failure to do equity." See In re Marriage of Schriner, 695 N.W.2d 493, 496 (Iowa 2005). Notably, because we base our decision on the unique facts of each case, precedent is of little value. See In re Marriage of Brown, 776 N.W.2d 644, 647 (Iowa 2009).

         II. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         On our de novo review, we make the following findings of fact. See Kimbro, 826 N.W.2d at 699. Melissa and Gabriel met in 2009 and began dating that spring; Melissa was twenty-five, and Gabriel was twenty-seven. Melissa moved into Gabriel's apartment in the fall, moving from Mason City to LeMars to live with Gabriel. In November 2010, Gabriel purchased a house in Brunsville, and the parties moved there. The parties married in April 2014 and had a daughter in September 2014.

         In April 2016, Melissa filed a petition for dissolution of marriage. Trial was held in January 2017, with physical care of the parties' child and distribution of their property as matters in dispute. They agreed there should be joint legal custody but disagreed on whether there should be shared physical care or physical-care placement with Melissa. Thereafter, the district court entered its decree dissolving Melissa and Gabriel's marriage. The district court determined Melissa had been the child's primary caregiver and placed the child in Melissa's physical care, awarding Gabriel liberal visitation. Additionally, the court determined "the full premarital value should be included in the division of assets and liabilities of the parties. To do differently would seriously disadvantage Melissa in the cost-sharing arrangement she and Gabriel had while they were together and married." Based upon the properties' valuations, the court directed Gabriel to make a property-equalization payment to Melissa of $64, 963.47.

         III. Discussion.

         Gabriel now appeals, asserting the district court should have placed the child in the parties' joint physical care rather than Melissa's physical care. Gabriel also argues the court should not have included some property in the equalization determination, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.