IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF CATHERINE MARY BELL AND THATCHER JON BELL Upon the Petition of CATHERINE MARY BELL, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning THATCHER JON BELL, Respondent-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Cerro Gordo County, DeDra L.
Bell appeals following the economic provisions of the decree
dissolving his marriage to Catherine Bell.
A. Reindl of Reindl Law Firm, Mason City, for appellant.
Richard S. Piscopo Jr. of Yunek Law Firm, P.L.C., Mason City,
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.
Bell appeals following the entry of the decree dissolving his
marriage to Catherine Bell. Thatcher argues the property
division and spousal support provisions of the decree are
Background Facts and Proceedings.
and Thatcher were married in 2005 and have one minor child
together. In June 2016, the parties separated and Catherine
filed a petition to dissolve the marriage. The parties
stipulated to joint legal custody of their child with
Catherine having physical care. They also agreed upon a
regular visitation schedule between Thatcher and the child.
matter came to a trial in February 2017 to allow the court to
determine the division of property and spousal support, among
other issues. At the time, Catherine was forty-four years old
and worked full time as a billing specialist, earning $13.75.
She owed approximately $30, 000 in student loan debt from the
associate's degree she had earned during the marriage,
with $400 monthly payments coming due beginning in March
2017. Thatcher was forty-one years old and had earned a high
school diploma. He worked for various railroad companies
during the marriage and has a pension. Catherine will
automatically receive one-half of Thatcher's pension.
district court entered a decree dissolving the parties'
marriage in March 2017. The court determined Catherine's
annual income to be $28, 600 and Thatcher's annual income
to be $75, 360. After valuing and dividing the parties'
assets and debts, the court ordered Thatcher responsible for
approximately $31, 000 of the marital debt and Catherine
responsible for approximately $23, 000 of the marital debt.
The court also awarded Catherine the parties' 2016
federal and state tax refunds, estimated to be $3979, and
awarded Thatcher his 401(k) account, which the court valued
at $8886. Finally, the court ordered Thatcher to pay
Catherine rehabilitative spousal support in the amount of
$1000 per month for a period of five years, and $750 per
month thereafter for spousal support for a period of an
additional five years.
Scope and Standard of Review.
review dissolution of marriage cases de novo. See
Iowa R. App. P. 6.907; In re Marriage of Mauer, 874
N.W.2d 103, 106 (Iowa 2016). We give weight to the district
court's fact findings even though they are not binding.
See Iowa R.App. P. 6.904(3)(g); Mauer, 874
N.W.2d at 106. We will disturb the district court's
findings only if they fail to do equity. See Mauer,
874 N.W.2d at 106. Because we base our decision on the ...