from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Thomas A.
spouse appeals the district court's denial of her
application for contempt.
L. Weiss of Fuerste, Carew, Juergens & Sudmeier, P.C.,
Dubuque, for appellant.
S. Harmon and Nina K. Sheller of Kintzinger, Harmon,
Konrardy, P.L.C., Dubuque, for appellee.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.
Heims appeals from the district court's denial of her
application for rule to show cause. She argues Brad Heims
should be held in contempt for failing to pay spousal
support, in violation of their marital settlement agreement,
which was incorporated into their Illinois "Judgment for
Dissolution of Marriage." We conclude the district court
did not abuse its discretion in finding Lynette did not prove
Brad engaged in willful disobedience of his obligation to pay
spousal support, nor did it abuse its discretion in declining
to order Brad to pay Lynette's attorney fees. Therefore,
we affirm. We also decline to order Brad to pay Lynette's
appellate attorney fees.
Background Facts and Proceedings
February 13, 2014, the marriage of Brad and Lynette Heims was
dissolved in Illinois. At that time, the parties entered into
a marital settlement agreement, under which Brad agreed to
pay "Maintenance (Alimony)" to Lynette in the
amount of $160.28 per week "for a period of not less
than three (3) years from the date of entry of this Marital
Settlement Agreement." On August 21, 2015, the parties
registered their dissolution of marriage decree, including
the incorporated marital settlement agreement, in Iowa. On
December 12, 2016, Brad filed a petition to modify in Iowa,
seeking to terminate his spousal support obligation upon
completion of the third year, as permitted under the marital
Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services
("DHFS") administered the couple's child
support and spousal support payments by withholding amounts
from Brad's paychecks. On February 13, 2017, DHFS stopped
withholding spousal support from Brad's paychecks, but it
continued withholding child support. Lynette does not know
why DHFS stopped withholding spousal support. Brad testified
he did not do anything affirmative to stop the withholding,
and Lynette does not accuse him of any such actions. Brad
believes DHFS simply interpreted the marital settlement
agreement to end the spousal support payments after exactly
three years and acted without consultation with either party.
On March 4, DHFS began withholding an additional $160.28 from
Brad's paycheck, but it credited this amount to past-due
child support and not spousal support. On March 31, DHFS
stopped withholding the $160.28 from Brad's paycheck. On
April 28, DHFS resumed withholding the $160.28 from
Brad's paychecks for spousal support.
parties scheduled mediation for March 10, 2017, though they
cancelled when the mediator did not attend due to a conflict.
At this time, Lynette testified she asked Brad to pay spousal
support directly to her while DHFS was not correctly
withholding, but Brad refused. On April 21, the parties
discussed spousal support in mediation, but this mediation
failed. On April 25, Lynette filed this application for rule
to show cause, seeking to hold Brad in contempt for failure
to pay spousal support. On May 1, Brad personally went to the
DHFS office to straighten out the withholding issues and make
a lump-sum payment for spousal support. He testified he took
a day off from work in Chicago, Illinois, to travel to the
DHFS office in Rockford, Illinois. He paid $1, 475.12, which
he testified is the amount of arrearage DHFS calculated.
hearing, the district court issued an order declining to find
Brad in contempt. The district court also rejected
Lynette's request for attorney fees. Lynette appeals the
district court's order on contempt and her attorney fees,
and she requests appellate attorney fees.
Standard of Review
actions are governed by Iowa Code section 598.23 ("If a
person against whom a temporary order or final decree has
been entered willfully disobeys the order or decree, the
person may be cited and punished by the court for contempt .
. . ."). We review contempt decisions for abuse of
discretion. Ary v. Iowa Dist. Ct., 735 N.W.2d 621,
624 (Iowa 2007) (citing Ickowitz v. Iowa Dist. Ct.,
452 N.W.2d 446, 452 (Iowa 1990)). The district court may
consider all circumstances in deciding whether to impose
punishment for contempt. In re Marriage of Swan, 526
N.W.2d 320, 327 (Iowa 1995). We review decisions on attorney