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Seward v. Hane

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 20, 2017

LADAWN R. SEWARD, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
TROY P. HANE, Defendant-Appellant, And Involving STATE OF IOWA, CHILD SUPPORT RECOVERY UNIT, Defendant-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Monona County, Jeffrey A. Neary, Judge.

         In this second appeal from a paternity decree, the Child Support Recovery Unit (CSRU) weighs in on our decision to afford the unit formal notice of the paternity proceeding, and a father challenges the child support and medical support provisions of the decree. AFFIRMED AS MODIFIED.

          Maura Sailer of Reimer, Lohman, Reitz, Sailer & Ullrich, Denison, for appellant.

          Jacquelyn S. Johnson of Vonnahme Law, P.C., Sioux City, for appellee.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Gary J. Otting and Amy E. Klocke, Assistant Attorneys General, for appellee State.

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

          VAITHESWARAN, Presiding Judge.

         In this second appeal from a paternity decree, the Child Support Recovery Unit (CSRU) weighs in on our decision to afford the unit formal notice of the paternity proceeding, and a father challenges the child support and medical support provisions of the decree.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         A detailed rendition of the facts is set forth in a prior opinion, Seward v. Hane, No. 15-0119, 2016 WL 902838, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Mar. 9, 2016). We summarize and supplement the facts as follows.

         Troy Hane and LaDawn Seward are the unmarried parents of two children. Because Seward received State medical assistance, the CSRU obtained a support order of $152 per month against Hane. See Iowa Code § 252C.2(1) (2013) ("If public assistance is provided by the department to or on behalf of a dependent child or a dependent child's caretaker, there is an assignment by operation of law to the department of any and all right in, title to, and interest in any support obligation . . . .").

         Seward subsequently filed a petition to establish paternity, care, custody and visitation. Seward also sought temporary and permanent child support. Hane invoked the CSRU order and asserted "there has been no change of circumstances that would warrant a modification of child support since child support was established." The district court issued a pretrial order stating in part:

If there is a pre-existing child support action or judgment concerning the children, the parties shall notify the appropriate person in Child Support Recovery Unit of the pendency of this action and the trial date. The parties shall file documentation of their notification no less than ten business days before trial.[1]

         Following trial on the paternity petition, the district court made the following pertinent findings:

Troy currently has a child support obligation which was set in Monona County case number DRCV028597 in the amount of $152 per month. In that proceeding, the Court imputed income to [Hane] based upon a scant record of earnings. There is more evidence here as to [Hane's] earning capacity, earnings, and his current status as to how he meets his business and personal expenses. To find that [Hane's] income is as limited as he reflects in the pretrial stipulation is to ignore his life style, how he meets his expenses and generally lives and ...

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