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In re Marriage of Lange

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 6, 2017

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF KYLE LANGE AND JESSICA LANGE Upon the Petition of KYLE LANGE, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning JESSICA LANGE, n/k/a JESSICA L. SCHNEIDER, Respondent-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Clarke County, Patrick W. Greenwood, Judge.

         A mother appeals the custody and spousal support provisions of a decree of dissolution. AFFIRMED.

          Joseph G. Bertogli, Des Moines, for appellant.

          Cathleen J. Siebrecht of Siebrecht Law Firm, Des Moines, for appellee.

          Heard by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and McDonald, JJ.

          McDONALD, JUDGE

         Jessica Lange n/k/a Schneider challenges several provisions of the decree dissolving her marriage to Kyle Lange. Jessica argues shared physical care is not in the best interest of the parties' two children and she should receive physical care of the children. She also seeks a greater amount of spousal support for longer duration. Finally, Jessica argues Kyle should have been required to pay more of her trial attorney fees.

         I.

         Jessica and Kyle Lange were married in 2005. At the time of trial, Jessica was thirty-eight and Kyle thirty-seven. They have two children, R.L., born in 2008, and A.L., born in 2010. Both Kyle and Jessica have undergraduate and graduate degrees from Iowa State University. The couple resided in Osceola throughout their marriage. Kyle is employed by DuPont Pioneer and makes $154, 452.96 annually, plus bonuses. Jessica worked at John Deere from the beginning of the marriage until she quit in May 2015. At the time she quit her employment, she earned approximately $57, 053 annually. Jessica testified she quit her employment to become a stay-at-home mother until her children were independent. Kyle testified Jessica's absence from the workforce was meant to be temporary and Jessica did not tell him she wanted to stay at home until July 2015. At the time of trial in May 2016, Jessica was seeking employment.

         Until shortly before the initiation of this dissolution proceeding, the parties' care arrangement for the children was well established. Both Kyle and Jessica worked in Des Moines. Their home was on an acreage approximately 700 feet from Kyle's parents' home. Kyle and Jessica commuted together from Osceola to Des Moines. The children were dropped off at daycare at approximately 7 a.m. Kyle's parents picked up the children from daycare at approximately 4:30 p.m. and cared for the children until Kyle and Jessica returned from Des Moines, typically between 6 and 7 p.m. Kyle's parents frequently prepared dinner for the family, and the family frequently ate at Kyle's parents' home. When Jessica quit her employment in May 2015, she provided care for the children while Kyle was at work.

         Kyle filed for divorce on August 24, 2015. Kyle, Jessica, and the children all remained in the martial home until February 2016. Once Kyle moved out of the marital home, the parties exercised shared physical care of the children.

         At trial, Kyle and Jessica disagreed about the appropriate physical care arrangement for their children. Kyle sought joint physical care while Jessica sought physical care. Jessica argued that even when both parents worked fulltime she provided the day-to-day care for the children, including missing work when the children were sick. Kyle testified as to his own involvement in raising the children. His supervisor testified the company worked with Kyle to create a more flexible schedule to allow Kyle to spend more time with the children. A court-appointed custody evaluator found the children were bonded with both parents and benefited from relationships with both parents. The evaluator concluded "[Jessica and Kyle] are more than capable of co-parenting their children in a manner that places the children's needs as a priority."

         The trial court granted Jessica and Kyle joint legal custody and joint physical care of the children. The trial court awarded $2000 per month in rehabilitative alimony to Jessica for a period of twenty-four months. Based upon the parties' disparate earnings, the trial court awarded Jessica $5000 in attorney fees. Jessica appeals all three of these decisions. She seeks physical care, $3000 a month in ...


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