IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF TIMOTHY J. GALLES AND DEBRA M. GALLES Upon the Petition of TIMOTHY J. GALLES, Petitioner-Appellee/Cross-Appellant, And Concerning DEBRA M. GALLES, Respondent-Appellant/Cross-Appellee.
from the Iowa District Court for Cherokee County, Don E.
and Respondent appeal and cross-appeal from the district
court's findings and decree in this dissolution of
S. Horneber of Horneber Law Firm, P.C., Sioux City, for
W. Wittgraf of Wittgraf Law Firm, Cherokee, for appellee.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., Bower, J., and Blane, S.J.
parties appeal and cross-appeal from the district court's
findings and decree in this dissolution-of-marriage action.
Debra M. Galles contends the court did not properly value and
equitably distribute their property and debts, included or
failed to exclude inherited and gifted property, failed to
award her a portion of Timothy Galles's IPERS pension
benefits, erred in allowing property equalization payments to
be made in three installments, failed to require the parties
to file jointly their 2015 tax returns, failed to award
adequate alimony, and failed to award adequate attorney fees.
On cross-appeal, Timothy contends the trial court erred in
awarding alimony and attorney fees to Debra.
20, 2015, Timothy filed a petition for dissolution of
marriage. Debra filed her answer on August 10. Trial was held
on March 3, 2016, before the district court. The court issued
a decree on November 29. Debra filed a timely notice of
appeal on December 27. Timothy filed a notice of cross-appeal
on December 29.
parties married on September 10, 1988, and separated in late
September 2014. At trial, Timothy was sixty-three years old
and a 1971 graduate of Remsen St. Mary's High School in
Remsen. After Timothy graduated from high school he became
employed with Hoover Oil as a mechanic. When Hoover Oil was
sold, he purchased a partnership in a bar/restaurant in
Marcus, which he operated until 1983. At that time Timothy
found employment with Means Oil, formerly Hoover Oil, and
worked for them as a mechanic from 1983 to 1989. Starting in
1989 he was employed with the City of Marcus, and remained
there for twenty years, serving in several capacities,
including street superintendent, public works director, and
was born in 1956 and is a 1975 graduate of Marcus Community
High School in Marcus. After her graduation from high school
she worked in nursing homes and restaurants. For
approximately seventeen years she worked for K-Products in
Marcus, during which time she sustained a work injury which
resulted in four surgeries-two on her arm and two on her
wrist. These resulted in a workers' compensation
permanent partial disability award. Debra was unable to
return to employment with K-Products because of her physical
limitations. At that point Debra became employed with
Heartland Care Center in Marcus. She is employed full time as
a cook, working from thirty to thirty-five hours per week,
making between thirteen and fourteen dollars per hour. In
2015, she earned $24, 920. If she works an average of
sixty-four hours per pay period, which is every two weeks,
she qualifies to obtain health insurance through her
children were born to this marriage. However, Debra did bring
a twelve-year-old child into the marriage. The child lived
with the parties full-time. Debra never received any child
support from the natural father of the child.
Timothy retired from the City of Marcus, he became employed
at Marcus Lumber Company in the fall of 2009 in their
plumbing and heating department. He works a forty-hour work
week and is paid $17.30 per hour. When he reached sixty-two
years of age, he collected several Social Security checks
before realizing he could only work twenty to twenty-five
hours per week without being penalized. If he worked less
than full time he would lose all benefits offered through his
employer, including insurance coverage. He repaid the Social
Security Administration for the payments received and went
back to full time, forty hours per week. His intention is to
retire when he is sixty-four because his job is physically
demanding, but part-time work is possible.
his retirement from the City of Marcus in 2009, Timothy began
receiving IPERS benefits and continues to receive those
monthly. He has elected to receive his full IPERS benefits
with no payment upon his death to anyone else.
purchased a residence on North Ash Street in Marcus, Iowa, in
July of 1977 for $24, 500. In 2005, the home was remodeled,
which was financed with Timothy's inheritance of $33,
800.86 from his parents and gifts from his older brother.
the marriage, the parties shared responsibility for
maintaining the residence with Timothy paying the bills and
doing repair work. Debra did the laundry, housecleaning,
buying groceries, and cooking. During the first half of the
marriage the parties each maintained their own checking
accounts and shared a joint savings account. Timothy paid for
maintenance around the house out of his account and Debra
paid for groceries and clothes out of her account. Eventually
the parties began sharing joint checking and savings accounts
until the fall of 2014 when Debra left the residence. The
parties kept a significant amount of cash in the home and
when Debra left Timothy wrote her a check for $7000, half of
that cash amount.
time of separation at the end of September 2014, Debra moved
into her deceased mother's home located on North Maple in
Marcus. The home was owned in joint tenancy by Debra's
parents. Upon her mother's death, Debra, with the consent
of her siblings, moved into the home after making payment to
the Iowa Department of Human Services in the amount of
$2332.80 for medical assistance debt incurred by her father
and owed by her mother. Upon payment of that debt, she began
making rental payments to her four sisters beginning in
November of 2014. She pays rent of $300 four out of every
submitted a proposed division of assets and liabilities. With
some exceptions, the parties agreed with the division of
assets as outlined in the exhibit but disagree on values.
Debra's financial affidavit itemizes her expenses at
$2131 per month. Following their separation, Timothy
continued to pay for Debra's health and car insurance and
paid for the maintenance of her car.
Standard of Review.
cases are reviewed de novo. See Iowa R. App. P.
6.907; In re Marriage of McDermott, 827 N.W.2d 671,
676 (Iowa 2013). "Although we decide the issues raised
on appeal anew, we give weight to the trial court's
factual findings, especially with respect to the credibility
of the witnesses." In re Marriage of Sullins,
715 N.W.2d 242, 247 (Iowa 2006) (citation omitted).
"Ordinarily, a trial court's valuation will not be
disturbed when it is within the range of permissible
evidence." In re Marriage of Hansen, 733 N.W.2d
683, 703 (Iowa 2007). We review an award of attorney fees for
an abuse of discretion. In re Marriage of
Schenkelberg, 824 N.W.2d 481, 484 (Iowa 2012). An abuse
of discretion occurs when the district court exercises its
discretion "on grounds or for reasons that are clearly
untenable or to an extent clearly unreasonable."
Id. "A ground or reason is untenable when it is
not supported by substantial evidence or when it is based on
erroneous application of the law." Id.
WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO AWARD DEBRA
ONE-HALF OF THE IPERS BENEFITS.
earned an IPERS pension while employed by the City of Marcus.
During the entirety of that employment he was married to
Debra. His IPERS payment is $1201.23 per month. We also note
that Timothy elected an IPERS benefit that pays him the full
amount and does not pay any amount to a survivor upon his
is a defined benefit program and is therefore a pension.
Sullins, 715 N.W.2d at 249. "Pensions are
divisible marital property." Id. at 247. Such
pensions are to be divided in a dissolution action. See
In re Marriage of Benson, 545 N.W.2d 252, 255 (Iowa
1996). The trial court here failed to divide the IPERS
pension. Division may be in one of two manners-the
present-value method or the percentage method. See
id. It is normally desirable to divide a defined-benefit
plan by using the percentage method. Sullins, 715
N.W.2d at 250 ("[T]he ...