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In re Marriage of Yeager

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 20, 2017

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF MARCUS RICHARDT YEAGER AND JENNIFER KAY YEAGER Upon the Petition of MARCUS RICHARDT YEAGER, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning JENNIFER KAY YEAGER, Respondent-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Robert B. Hanson, Judge.

         A husband appeals the economic provisions of the parties' dissolution decree. AFFIRMED AS MODIFIED.

          R.A. Bartolomei of Bartolomei & Lange, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant.

          Anjela A. Shutts and Sarah S. James of Whitfield & Eddy, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellee.

          Vogel, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, Judge.

         Marcus Yeager appeals the economic provisions of the dissolution decree from his marriage to Jennifer Yeager. We find the district court properly divided the marital property, including the down payment, and properly established child support. However, the spousal support established by the district court was excessive. We also find an award of appellate attorney fees is not appropriate. We affirm the district court decree as modified.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Marcus and Jennifer married in 1996. They have three children, J.Y., M.Y., and S.Y. The oldest child was eighteen at the time of trial and anticipated graduating from high school in the spring of 2016. Marcus completed his degree in project management during the marriage while working. Marcus earns approximately $45, 500 per year.

         Jennifer earned a degree in accounting from the University of Iowa prior to the marriage. Jennifer attempted the CPA exam in 1994 but did not pass. The parties moved to California, where Jennifer worked in several accounting positions until 1999, when their second child was born. Jennifer left the workforce in order to raise the parties' children. Jennifer worked sporadically for Marcus's small business doing bookkeeping and other accounting work but did not fully return to the workforce. The parties moved back to Iowa in 2005.

         Jennifer returned to work in 2008 as an associate for students with special needs. The parties agreed this position would allow her flexibility to continue to care for their children as needed. Jennifer earned approximately $18, 000 per year. Jennifer is currently pursuing a degree in education and plans to become a middle school math teacher. At the time of trial, Jennifer anticipated she would be student teaching in the fall of 2017, and obtaining her teaching license in January of 2018.

         When the parties lived in California, the house they lived in was initially purchased by Marcus's parents. The property was titled in the names of Marcus's parents and Marcus. Jennifer's name was not listed on the property title or the mortgage. Three years later the parties refinanced the house and purchased the property from Marcus's parents, although $28, 000 was provided by Marcus's mother as a down payment. At trial, Marcus's mother testified the down payment was a loan. However, the parties have made no payments, no documents exist referencing the loan, and even though a substantial profit was made from the sale of the house, no payment or promise of payment was made.

         Marcus filed a petition for dissolution on January 21, 2015. Trial was held January 27-29, and February 3, 2016. The district court entered its decree April 25. The district court awarded Marcus the marital home but required him to refinance it in his own name within ninety days or sell the home, assigned him sole responsibility for the mortgage, and required him to pay Jennifer her share of the equity, $31, 559, within ninety days or interest would accrue at five percent per annum. Marcus was also required to pay Jennifer $750 per month in spousal support until July 2018. Child support was set at $1049 per month for three children, $888.57 for two, and $601.77 for one child. The district court's decree also established shared legal custody, granted physical care of the children to Jennifer, and divided other marital property, though none of these provisions are appealed here. Marcus filed a notice of appeal April 29.

         II. ...


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