IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF KATIE LYNN LANG AND JEFFREY JOSEPH LANG Upon the Petition of KATIE LYNN LANG, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning JEFFREY JOSEPH LANG, Respondent-Appellee.
from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Thomas A.
Lang appeals a district court order modifying the
physical-care provision of a decree of dissolution of
E. Steines of Clemens, Walters, Conlon, Runde & Hiatt,
L.L.P., Dubuque, for appellant.
Roddick of Reynolds & Kenline, L.L.P., Dubuque, for
by Danilson, C.J., and Mullins and McDonald, JJ.
Lang appeals a district court order modifying the
physical-care provision of the decree dissolving her marriage
to Jeffrey (Jeff) Lang, arguing the court should have
modified the decree to place the child in her, rather than
Jeff's, physical care. Katie also challenges the
corresponding modification of her child-support obligation
and the visitation schedule imposed. Jeff requests an award
of appellate attorney fees.
Background Facts and Proceedings
parties were married in 2003. The marriage produced one
child, born in 2006. The marriage was dissolved by decree in
2012. The parties were granted joint legal custody and joint
physical care of the child. The decree provided the parties
substantially equal parenting time. At the time of the entry
of the decree, both parties resided in the Dubuque, Iowa
October 2016, Katie met Josh Malli "online, " and
the two began dating. At this time, Josh lived in Cresco,
Iowa. Katie introduced Josh to her daughter in early
December. At some point in the spring of 2017, Katie advised
Jeff of her aspirations of moving away from the Dubuque area
and having the child move with her. Jeff opposed the
potential move. In April, Katie filed a petition to modify
the decree, stating she would "be relocating to
Northwood, Iowa in the near future due to a change in
employment" and requested the court to modify the
physical-care provision of the decree. Both parties requested
they be awarded physical care of the child.
May, Katie and Josh purchased a three-bedroom, two-bathroom
home in Northwood. Northwood is located approximately three
hours away from the Dubuque area. Katie characterized
Northwood as "a small, little northern Iowa town."
Josh's nine-year-old son will also be living in the home.
According to Katie, her daughter gets along "very
well" with Josh and his son. The home has individual
bedrooms for each of the children, and is located
"[l]ess than ten blocks" away from the local
elementary school. Katie's grandmother, parents, and
sister all continue to live in the Dubuque area. Jeff also
has family living in the Dubuque area. Katie has "two
very close family friends" living a "town
over" from Northwood, "[a]s well as numerous other
people that [she] know[s]."
began working at the Diamond Jo casino in Dubuque in 1998.
She worked her way up to the position of food and beverage
operations manager, a position in which she earned $56,
000.00 annually. Katie accepted a marketing coordinator
position in another Diamond Jo casino located in Northwood,
effective June 15, 2017. She is paid $16.50 per hour, or
roughly $34, 320 per year, in this position. The change in
employment therefore resulted in a pay cut for Katie in
excess of $20, 000.00. In her new position, Katie generally
has a regular nine-to-five, Monday-through-Friday work
schedule. Katie characterized her new position as less
stressful and having more potential opportunities for
has lived with his mother and stepfather since the
parties' separation in 2011. The record indicates
Jeff's mother and stepfather have some health issues, and
Jeff provides them assistance in relation to their conditions
and helps to maintain the home. The home has three bedrooms,
and Jeff and the child each have their own room. Jeff has
worked for the same employer, a popular bar and grill
restaurant chain, for sixteen years. He currently holds the
position of head line cook. His work schedule fluctuates, but
he typically works every day of the week except Saturday. The
start time of his shifts varies between 8:00 and 10:00 a.m.,
but his shifts end at 4:00 p.m. Jeff is allowed great
flexibility in his work schedule to accommodate any parenting
obligations that may arise. Jeff earns $14.25 per hour, works
thirty-six to forty hours per week, and occasionally receives
child was ten years old at the time of trial. She does very
well in school. According to the evidence presented, the
school the child attends in the Dubuque area is ranked 82nd
out of Iowa's 597 elementary schools, while the Northwood
school Katie desires the child to attend is ranked 265th. The
child has been diagnosed with ADHD and has seen the same
doctor in the Dubuque area regarding her ADHD for several
years. Katie has traditionally been responsible for the
child's ADHD medication management and taking the child
to the doctor or dentist in general. This is not to say that
Jeff is uninvolved in these matters, as Katie schedules these
appointments on her days off, when Jeff is working, and Jeff
steps in to take the child to appointments when Katie is
unavailable. Both parents ...