from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Sean W.
mother appeals following a custody decree and surname
determination in favor of the father.
W. Stiefel, Victor, for appellant.
C. Pavelich of Spies Pavelich & Foley, Iowa City, for
P.J., and Potterfield and Mullins, JJ.
White appeals from a custody and surname determination in
favor of Matthew Moses. Angela contends the district court
erred in failing to grant her physical care of the child and
consider the child's relationship to his half-siblings.
She also argues the court erred in determining the
Background Facts and Proceedings
and Matthew were in a relationship between November 2013 and
January 2014. Their relationship resulted in a child, L.D.W.
Angela is also the primary caretaker for her two older
children. Although Angela suspected she was pregnant in
December 2013, and discussed the possibility with Matthew,
pregnancy tests were negative. In February 2014, tests
confirmed Angela's pregnancy. Although Angela attempted
numerous times to re-establish communication with Matthew, he
was resistant to communication and to a relationship with the
the course of her pregnancy and following L.D.W.'s birth,
Angela changed residences three times. At times, Angela would
not tell Matthew where she and the child were living. Angela
has a varied employment and educational history, studying
both culinary arts and "police science, " and
holding security and factory positions for different
companies. At the time of trial, however, she was neither
taking classes nor employed.
residence and employment remained the same throughout the
course of proceedings. Matthew married in the summer of 2015.
His wife, Mollie, works as a paraprofessional and nanny and
helps care for L.D.W. when Matthew has care of the child.
L.D.W.'s birth and the confirmation of Matthew's
paternity, Matthew expressed a desire to become involved in
the child's life. Angela resisted. Angela did not allow
Matthew to see L.D.W. until visitation was ordered by the
court. There is also a history of tension between Angela and
Mollie, culminating in an incident in which Angela confronted
Mollie, screaming and yelling in the child's presence.
During a custody transfer, Angela left her car and approached
Mollie, who was sitting in Matthew's car with the door
and window closed. Angela insisted Mollie get out of the car
to discuss insults and judgmental statements Mollie allegedly
made about Angela's parenting. Mollie and Matthew
testified that Angela screamed and yelled for Mollie to get
out of the car, which Mollie refused. Angela conceded she
created the incident and the child likely understood the
stress of the situation.
parties agreed to joint legal custody but disputed who should
have physical care of the child. After a hearing, the
district court awarded physical care to Matthew and
determined L.D.W. should carry Matthew's surname.
Standard of Review
custody and surname disputes are reviewed de novo. In re
Marriage of Hansen, 733 N.W.2d 683, 690 (Iowa 2007);
Montgomery v. Wells, 708 N.W.2d 704, 705-06 (Iowa
Ct. App. 2005). Weight is given to the findings and
credibility determinations of the district court.
Hansen, 733 N.W.2d at 690.
best interests of children are a primary consideration.
In re Marriage of Ford, 563 N.W.2d 629, 631 (Iowa