IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF DIANA VASQUEZ FIRESTONE AND DIEGO FIRESTONE Upon the Petition of DIANA VASQUEZ FIRESTONE, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning DIEGO FIRESTONE, Respondent-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Marshall County, Michael J.
Firestone appeals, and Diana Vasquez Firestone cross-appeals,
from the decree dissolving their marriage.
S. Kaplan and C. Aron Vaughn of Kaplan & Frese, L.L.P.,
Marshalltown, for appellant.
T.S. Greer of Cartwright, Druker & Ryden, Marshalltown,
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., Potterfield, J., and Carr,
Firestone appeals from the decree dissolving his marriage to
Diana Vasquez Firestone, challenging the property
distribution ordered by the district court as inequitable.
Diana cross-appeals, requesting reimbursement spousal
support, attorney fees, and restoration of her former
surname. We affirm, as modified, on both appeals.
Background Facts and Proceedings
and Diana divorced in 2017 after four years of marriage. They
each have children from prior relationships. At the beginning
of the marriage, Diego lived in Marshalltown and Diana lived
in Texas. Diana and her daughters moved to Marshalltown in
June 2013. Diana rented a home from Diego's mother so she
could improve her credit rating to qualify for a mortgage
loan on a home. Diego and his three sons lived nearby in a
house he was renting. In December 2015, they purchased a home
and moved there together with their children. The arrangement
was short-lived; in April 2016, Diana and her daughters moved
from the home and into an apartment. She filed a petition for
dissolution of marriage the next month.
primary issue at trial was who would receive the marital
home. Diego believed he should receive the home
because he had provided the down payment (approximately
$7400), he had made the monthly mortgage payments
(approximately $1270) after Diana moved out, and his sons
"love it there." Diego acknowledged he was unable
to refinance the house in his name. Diana expressed concern
about having the house in his name and how that could affect
her credit rating. Diana wanted to move back into the house
so she could "stage it" and put in on the market to
sell. According to Diana, the house was
"immaculate" when they moved in, but it had become
a "mess" since she moved out. The parties agreed
there would be no profit when the house sold after the
realtor and other fees were paid.
trial, the district court entered a decree dissolving the
marriage. Among other provisions, the court ordered Diana to
receive the marital house and take over its payment. The
court declined to order spousal support. Diego appeals, and
Diana cross-appeals. Additional facts will be set forth as
relevant to the issues presented by the parties.
Standard of Review
equity action involving the dissolution of a marriage, we
engage in de novo review. In re Marriage of
McDermott, 827 N.W.2d 671, 676 (Iowa 2013). Our review
involves examining the entire record and adjudicating anew
the issue of the property distribution. Id. We give
weight to the district court's factual findings, though
they are not binding on us. Id. We defer to the
district court's opinion regarding the believability of
the parties because of the trial judge's superior ability
to gauge their demeanor. In re Marriage of Pundt,
547 N.W.2d 243, 245 (Iowa Ct. App. 1996).