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Carmichael v. Philpott

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 7, 2018

CLINTON D. CARMICHAEL, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
STACY LYNN PHILPOTT, n/k/a STACY LYNN ANDERSON, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Taylor County, John D. Lloyd, Judge.

         The mother appeals from the district court's ruling on the petition to modify, which placed physical care of the parties' minor child with the father. AFFIRMED.

          Chad Douglas Primmer of Chad Douglas Primmer, P.C., Council Bluffs, for appellant.

          David L. Jungmann of David L. Jungmann, P.C., Greenfield, for appellee.

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

          POTTERFIELD, JUDGE.

         Stacy Anderson (formerly known as Stacy Philpott) appeals from the district court's ruling on the petition to modify, which placed physical care of the parties' minor child with the father, Clinton Carmichael. On appeal, Stacy maintains the district court improperly considered testimony from the guardian ad litem (GAL) over her objection. She also maintains the court erred in its determination that a substantial change in circumstances warranting modification had taken place.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         These parties were never married. They have one child together, born in 2002. In 2004, a decree was entered establishing paternity, visitation, and child support and placing the child in Stacy's physical care.

         In 2013, Clinton filed a petition to modify the decree. The parties ultimately reached an agreement, and in 2014, the court entered an order modifying the original decree pursuant to the parties' stipulation. In part, the parties agreed, "Each parent and the child[] shall be entitled to have telephone, internet and other contact with each other at all reasonable times." In support of this provision, Clinton agreed to pay Stacy twenty dollars per month to go toward the child's cell phone bill and neither party was to take the child's cell phone as a form of punishment without the approval of both parties. Additionally, Clinton was given visitation with the child during almost her entire summer break from school. The parties agreed the child would be "permitted and encouraged to participate in school-sponsored extracurricular activities." As a "parenting rule, " the agreement also provided the parties "should refrain from . . . excessive alcohol consumption . . . while [the child] is in their care."

         On May 23, 2016, Stacy filed an application to show cause, maintaining Clinton had violated a court order by drinking in the presence of the child.

         Approximately one week later, Clinton also filed an application to show cause, claiming Stacy had violated a court order by refusing to allow Clinton his scheduled visitation with the child over the holiday weekend of Memorial Day and during the child's summer break. He also claimed Stacy was preventing the child from speaking to him. The same day, Clinton filed a petition to modify the decree, asking the court to place the child in his physical care. Clinton also asked the court to appoint a GAL to "make report to the court regarding the home conditions of both parties and their parenting capabilities, and other matters pertinent to the best interests of" the child.

         At a combined hearing in July 2016, the court heard evidence on each party's motion to show cause and Clinton's request for a GAL to be appointed. Following the hearing, the court denied Stacy's motion to show cause, finding she had failed to establish Clinton was drinking excessively in front of the child, but granted Clinton's motion. The court found Stacy had intentionally denied Clinton's visit with the child over Memorial Day weekend and at the beginning of the child's summer break.[1] Additionally, the court appointed a GAL for the child and instructed her to conduct in-person interviews with the child and visit the home of both parents, among other things.

         A pretrial conference was scheduled for August 30. Neither Stacy nor her attorney appeared at the conference. Additionally, Stacy failed to file an affidavit of her financial status, her child support guideline worksheet, and ...


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