IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF ERIC L. STAHR AND ANNETTE M. STAHR Upon the Petition of ERIC L. STAHR, Petitioner-Appelle, And Concerning ANNETTE M. STAHR, n/k/a ANNETTE BALK, Respondent-Appellee.
from the Iowa District Court for Winneshiek County, Margaret
L. Lingreen, Judge.
Stahr, now Annette Balk, appeals from the denial of her
petition to modify the physical-care provisions of her decree
of dissolution of marriage to Eric Stahr.
W. Fern of Putnam, Fern & Thompson Law Office, P.L.L.C.,
Decorah, for appellant.
J. Parrish of Miller, Pearson, Gloe, Burns, Beatty &
Parrish, P.L.C., Decorah, for appellee.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Doyle and Mullins, JJ.
DANILSON, CHIEF JUDGE.
Stahr, now known as Annette Balk, appeals from the denial of
her petition to modify the physical-care provisions of her
decree of dissolution of marriage to Eric Stahr. She argues
the court's findings of fact are not supported by the
evidence, there was a change of circumstances warranting
modification, and she has shown she can provide the children
review equity actions de novo. Iowa R. App. P. 6.907. We give
weight to the trial court's findings of fact,
particularly with regard to determinations of credibility,
but we are not bound by them. Iowa R. App. P. 6.904(3)(g).
parties were divorced in 2005, at which time they agreed
their two children, N.M.S., born in 2000, and M.D.S., born in
2001, would be in Eric's physical care, with generally
unspecified but liberal visitation with Annette. For the next
ten years, the parties were able to co-parent successfully
despite Annette's paramour's attempted suicide,
Annette and her paramour relocating for several years,
Eric's remarriage and divorce, Annette and her paramour
returning to the same city as Eric and the children in 2014,
and each parent having periods of depression.
2015, however, Eric was called by N.M.S. asking to be picked
up from Annette's home because Annette and her paramour
were quarreling. When Eric arrived, Annette's paramour
would not let Eric in and would not let the child out. Eric
heard N.M.S. scream and he broke down the door.
August 14, 2015, Annette filed a petition to modify the
dissolution decree and requested a temporary order providing
for specified visitation. Eric resisted and asked that there
be no contact between the children and Annette's
paramour. The district court entered a temporary order
providing Annette with alternate weekend visitation; however,
there would be no overnight visits if Annette's paramour
was in the home. There were no overnight visits after the
to a court order, a report was prepared by licensed social
worker Jennifer Judson-Harms, who found there were some
indications of parent-alienation by Eric yet recommended
there not be a change of custody. Rather, Judson-Harms
proposed Annette and the children seek counseling to repair
their relationship and that Annette and Eric seek mediation
to work on their co-parenting relationship.
trial on the modification petition, both children testified.
N.M.S., now age seventeen, indicated she would appreciate a
set visitation schedule of every other weekend with her
mother and the ability to visit more frequently at her own
choosing. M.D.S., age fifteen, testified she was satisfied
with the current situation, though she acknowledged she
should make more of an effort to see her mother.
trial court entered its findings and conclusions in which it
determined there had not been a substantial change of
circumstances requiring a change of physical care. However,
the court did modify the visitation provisions of the ...