IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF SHANTEL N. DOW AND DANIEL D. DOW Upon the Petition of SHANTEL N. DOW, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning DANIEL D. DOW, Respondent-Appellant
from the Iowa District Court for Lucas County, David L.
Dow appeals from the support and economic provisions of the
decree dissolving his marriage to Shantel Dow.
Heather M. Simplot of Harrison, Moreland, Webber &
Simplot, P.C., Ottumwa, for appellant.
J. Goldsmith of Gaumer, Emanuel, Carpenter & Goldsmith,
P.C., Ottumwa, for appellee.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Bower, JJ.
DANILSON, Chief Judge.
Dow appeals from the support and economic provisions of the
decree dissolving his twenty-eight-year marriage to Shantel
Dow. He objects to the court ordering him to pay six months
of child support for the couple's fourth child. Daniel
contends he is unemployed and cannot afford to pay spousal
support. He also objects to the terms of the court's
qualified domestic relations order (QDRO).
our de novo review, we find no reason to disturb the
court's rulings as to spousal support, child support, and
the distribution of debts. We modify the order as to the
terms of the QDRO, eliminating any requirement that Shantel
be identified as a contingent annuitant and the parties'
children as contingent alternate payees. We award no
appellate attorney fees.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
case involves the dissolution of a long-term marriage during
which Daniel was the primary wage earner and Shantel was the
primary caregiver for the parties' four children. Daniel
and Shantel were married in 1988, and they had children born
in 1994, 1995, 1997, and 1999. The family moved several times
for Daniel's positions as an educator. Daniel obtained
his master's degree in school administration in 2002.
From 2004 to 2016, Daniel was a school principal in Iowa. He
earned $80, 922 during the 2015-2016 school year.
is a college graduate with a degree in liberal studies. She
also has taken post-graduate classes in nonprofit management.
She has had a number of jobs during the marriage, including
as a manager of a youth orchestra, as a grant writer, and
(from 2011 to 2014) as the director of Chariton Chamber and
Development. Shantel is also a performing arts booking agent
with Dow Artists, Inc., a subchapter S corporation. She was
diagnosed with cancer in 2014 and underwent chemotherapy,
radiation, and surgery. In February 2015, she was no longer
able to continue working for the Chamber. After her cancer
treatment, Shantel took classes and obtained a substitute
teacher license. She works as a substitute teacher, earning
about $100 per day, and continues to book artists and events
through Dow Artists. With regard to her income from Dow
Artists, Shantel stated the corporation receives a
twenty-percent commission of the agreed-upon fee for the
event and Shantel "tr[ies] to take [ten] percent off of
that commission personally, but there's a lot of times I
can't take that much because the business needs to pay
parties separated in June 2015 and Shantel and the youngest
(and only minor) child moved out of the marital residence. At
the time of separation, Shantel's source of income was
from substitute teaching and Dow Artists. During this period
of maintaining separate residences, David paid no child or
filed for dissolution of the marriage on February 3, 2016.
She sought child support for the couple's fourth child,
who planned to graduate from high school in May 2017. Shantel
also asked that Daniel pay permanent spousal support and that
the court make an equitable distribution of the parties'
trial, Daniel testified his contract with the school was not
renewed for the 2016-2017 school year. He was receiving net
unemployment benefits of $484 per week. He asserted he is not
able to find employment as a principal in the area, and that
he and his sons are starting a contracting business. Daniel
claimed he could not afford to pay child support or spousal
support. He listed monthly living expenses of $3849.
four-year average earnings at the time of trial was
approximately $26, 248 per year. She testified she had
"about $500" in an Iowa Public Employees'
Retirement System (IPERS) account and about $1400 in a 401k
account. She listed monthly living expenses of $3118. Shantel
opined Daniel would return to work as an administrator once
the dissolution proceedings are complete. Daniel testified
his "interest [in doing so] has dropped" and he is
"helping [his] eldest son get his feet on the ground in
parties owned 220 acres of land and a house, which were
subject to outstanding loans-$310, 518.80 was owed on the
loan on the land; $25, 980.59 was owed on the loan for a pole
barn; and approximately $186, 000 was owed on the family
residence. Both parties agreed the property and the house
should be sold and the net proceeds (anticipated to be about
$687, 000) evenly distributed.
November 29, 2016, the district court entered a decree of
dissolution and placed the parties' minor child in
Shantel's physical care. The court determined Daniel was
temporarily unemployed and had a "significantly higher
earning capacity than" Shantel. The court determined
Daniel had an earning capacity of $72, 914.50, and Shantel
had an earning capacity of $26, 247.75. The court ordered
Daniel to pay child support in the amount of $799.64 per
month beginning December 1, 2016, and continuing until the
minor child graduated from high school or became emancipated,
whichever occurred earlier. The court also ordered Daniel to
pay Shantel traditional alimony in the sum of $1000 per month
until she turned sixty-six and $500 per month thereafter
until either party died. The court ordered the parties'
house and property sold and the net proceeds distributed
equally. And while Daniel was allowed to continue to reside
in the marital home, the court ordered him to be solely
responsible for the real estate payments pending the sale.
court found that under the Benson formula, Shantel
was entitled to an appropriate percentage of the 168 months
of Daniel's retirement benefits-all of which arose during
the parties' marriage. The court also ordered Daniel to
list Shantel as the death benefit beneficiary and list the
parties' four children as contingent alternate payees.
appeals, asserting Shantel should not have been awarded
spousal support and the child-support amount was improperly
calculated. He also objects to terms of the ordered QDRO and
the court's distribution of debts.
Scope and Standard of Review.
proceedings are tried in equity, and our review is therefore
de novo. Iowa Code § 598.3 (2016); In re Marriage of
Mauer, 874 N.W.2d 103, 106 (Iowa 2016). We give weight
to the fact findings of the district court, especially when
considering the credibility of witnesses, but we are not
bound by them. Iowa R. App. P. 6.904(3)(g). "[W]e accord
the trial court considerable latitude in making this
determination [of spousal support] and will disturb the
ruling only when there has been a failure ...