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In re Marriage of Kragel

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 7, 2018

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF LEISHA F. KRAGEL AND RANDALL P. KRAGEL Upon the Petition of LEISHA F. KRAGEL, Petitioner-Appellee/Cross-Appellant, And Concerning RANDALL P. KRAGEL, Respondent-Appellant/Cross-Appellee

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Ida County, Duane E. Hoffmeyer, Judge.

         Randall Kragel appeals the district court's denial of his petition for modification of a dissolution decree. Leisha Kragel cross-appeals the same ruling which denied her request for attorney fees in the modification proceeding.

          Irene A. Schrunk of Irene A. Schrunk Law Firm, Sioux City, for appellant.

          Rosalynd J. Koob, Ellen C. Tolsma, and Joel D. Vos of Heidman Law Firm, L.L.P., Sioux City, for appellee.

          Danilson, C.J., and Vogel and Potterfield, JJ.

          DANILSON, Chief judge.

         Randall Kragel appeals the district court's ruling denying his petition for the modification of a dissolution decree. He contends (1) the district court applied an incorrect legal standard and erred in failing to find a material change in circumstances to support modification of his spousal-support obligation, and (2) in effect, the district court's ruling modified the property-distribution provisions of the original decree. He requests an award of appellate attorney fees. Leisha Kragel cross-appeals, challenging the denial of her request for attorney fees. She also requests an award of appellate attorney fees. We reverse the district court and modify the spousal-support obligation because Randall proved a material and substantial change of circumstances, and we affirm on the cross-appeal.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         This court previously made the following findings as to the parties' marriage and dissolution:

Randall and Leisha Kragel were married in 1981. They have two children who are now adults. Leisha filed a petition for dissolution of marriage in October 2009. The dissolution hearing took place over the course of six days between April and December 2011.
. . . .
The district court entered a dissolution decree for the parties on March 26, 2012. . . . The court awarded Randall net marital assets valued at $1, 954, 546 and Leisha net marital assets valued at $609, 283. The court ordered Randall to pay an equalization payment of $672, 631, payable over a period of eight years. The district court ordered Randall to pay rehabilitative alimony to Leisha of $5000 per month for eight years, and then $3000 per month for a period of two years. Additionally, the court ordered Randall to pay $30, 000 toward Leisha's trial attorney fees.

In re Marriage of Kragel, No. 12-0925, 2013 WL 5743745, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Oct. 23, 2013) (footnote omitted), further review denied (Dec. 24, 2013). Leisha appealed the economic and spousal-support provisions of the decree. Id. On appeal, due to the length of the marriage and disparity in the parties' income, this court modified the district court's rehabilitative-alimony award to a traditional-alimony award in the amount "of $6000 per month until [Randall] reaches the age of sixty-five, and then $4000 per month until either party dies or Leisha remarries." Id. at *6.

         In March 2016, Randall filed a petition to modify his spousal-support obligation, asserting a decrease in his income amounted to a substantial change in circumstances. Following a two-day trial, the district court denied Randall's petition. The court concluded a fluctuation of farm income was contemplated by the decretal court and the alleged change was not permanent. The court also denied Leisha's request for an award of attorney fees. The district court denied Randall's subsequent motion to enlarge or amend. Randall appeals, and Liesha cross-appeals.

         II. Scope and Standard of Review.

         Actions to modify a decree of dissolution of marriage are equitable proceedings, which we review de novo. Iowa R. App. P. 6.907; In re Marriage of Kupferschmidt, 705 N.W.2d 327, 331 (Iowa Ct. App. 2005). We give weight to the factual findings of the district court, especially when considering the ...


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