IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF HEATH PAULSEN AND KATI PAULSEN Upon the Petition of HEATH PAULSEN, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning KATI PAULSEN, Respondent-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Kossuth County, Nancy L.
Paulsen appeals the district court decision to modify a
dissolution decree to grant Heath Paulsen physical care of
their two children.
B. Howie of Shindler, Anderson, Goplerud & Weese, P.C.,
West Des Moines, for appellant.
B. Arzberger of Arzberger Law Office, Mason City, for
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and Tabor,
February 2015 divorce decree awarded Kati and Heath Paulsen
joint physical care of their preschool-aged twins. In August
2016, Kati asked the court to modify the decree to grant her
physical care because she planned to move to a new residence
two and one-half hours away. Heath responded by asking to
maintain shared care or, alternatively, to be the physical
custodian. The court granted Heath physical care. Kati
appeals. On our de novo review, we reach the same conclusion
as the district court-circumstances have changed
substantially, and the parents' conduct since the divorce
shows Heath can provide superior care.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
and Heath were married 2009; their twin son and daughter were
born in 2012. In December 2014, the couple signed a
stipulated dissolution decree establishing joint legal
custody and joint physical care of their children. The
district court approved the stipulation and filed the decree
in February 2015.
the dissolution, Heath stayed in the marital home in Lakota,
and Kati lived nearby in Bancroft. But in October 2016, Kati
moved to Cedar Falls. There, she attends Hawkeye Community
College taking mostly online classes and works part-time,
remotely, as an office manager for a Bancroft business. Kati
lives with her boyfriend, Mark. Heath continues to farm
part-time and works in a landscaping business. Also in
October 2016, Heath married Brittany, who has an
on her move, Kati filed a petition to modify the shared care
arrangement. Heath filed a counter petition. The district
court entered a ruling to modify, granting Heath physical
care. Kati challenges the ruling on appeal.
II. Standard of Review
to modify the physical care provisions of a divorce decree
lie in equity." In re Marriage of Harris, 877
N.W.2d 434, 440 (Iowa 2016) (quoting In re Marriage of
Hoffman, 867 N.W.2d 26, 32 (Iowa 2015)). "Thus, we
review the district court's decision de novo."
Id. (citing In re Marriage of Sisson, 843
N.W.2d 866, 870 (Iowa 2014)). We make our own findings of
fact but "give weight to the district court's
findings" particularly relating to witness credibility.
Id. (citing In re Marriage of McDermott,
827 N.W.2d 671, 676 (Iowa 2013)).