IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF MASATOMO NOBORIKAWA AND DEIDRA DANIELLE MILLER NOBORIKAWA Upon the Petition of MASATOMO NOBORIKAWA, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning DEIDRA DANIELLE MILLER NOBORIKAWA, n/k/a DEIDRA DANIELLEMILLER, Respondent-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Linda M.
Miller appeals the decree dissolving her marriage to Masatomo
R. Walker, Jr. of Beecher, Field, Walker, Morris, Hoffman
& Johnson, P.C., Waterloo, for appellant.
Heather A. Prendergast of Roberts, Stevens & Prendergast,
PLLC, Waterloo, for appellee.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.
Miller and Masatomo (Masa) Noborikawa married in 2002. They
have four children, who now range in age from five to eleven
years old. Masa filed a petition seeking to dissolve the
marriage in July 2016, and in December 2017, the district
court entered a decree dissolving the marriage. Deidra
the district court hears dissolution-of-marriage proceedings
in equity, our review is de novo. See In re Marriage of
Mauer, 874 N.W.2d 103, 106 (Iowa 2016); see
also Iowa Code § 598.3 (2016); Iowa R. App. P.
6.907. Although we examine the entire record and adjudicate
the issues anew, we give weight to the district court's
factual findings, especially with respect to the credibility
of the witnesses. See In re Marriage of McDermott,
827 N.W.2d 671, 676 (Iowa 2013); see also Iowa R.
App. P. 6.904(3)(g). This is because the district court, in
making its credibility assessment, has the distinct advantage
of listening and observing each witness's demeanor
firsthand, while we must rely on a cold transcript. See
In re Marriage of Udelhofen, 444 N.W.2d 473, 474 (Iowa
1989); In re Marriage of Vrban, 359 N.W.2d 420, 423
first challenges the child custody provisions of the decree.
Although Deidra requested joint physical care of the
children, the court found such an arrangement would not be in
the children's best interests. The court instead granted
physical care of the children to Masa. On appeal, Deidra
again argues a joint-physical-care arrangement is best for
Code section 598.41(1)(a) (2016) states:
The court, insofar as is reasonable and in the best interest
of the child, shall order the custody award, including
liberal visitation rights where appropriate, which will
assure the child the opportunity for the maximum continuing
physical and emotional contact with both parents after the
parents have separated or dissolved the marriage, and which
will encourage parents to share the rights and
responsibilities of raising the child unless direct physical
harm or significant emotional harm to the child, other
children, or a parent is likely to result from such contact
with one parent.
court may grant joint physical care if the parties share
joint legal custody and at least one party requests it.
See Iowa Code § 598.41(5)(a). If the request is
denied, the court must state specific findings of fact and
conclusions of law as to why joint physical care is not in
the child's best interests. See id. In
determining whether joint physical care is appropriate, we
consider consider "(1) stability, continuity of
caregiving, and approximation; (2) 'the ability of the
spouses to communicate and show mutual respect'; (3)
'the degree of conflict between parents'; and (4)
'the degree to which the parents are in general agreement
about their approach to daily matters.'" In re
Marriage of Hansen, 886 N.W.2d 868, 874 (Iowa Ct. App.
2016) (quoting In re Marriage of Hansen, 733 N.W.2d
683, 696-99 (2007)).
decree, the district court determined a joint-physical-care
arrangement was not in the children's best interests,
citing the parties' inability to communicate effectively,
the degree of conflict between them, their inability to agree
on child-rearing practices, and the logistics of their
current living situations. Deidra challenges these findings,
claiming the district court exaggerated the level of conflict
between the parties and claiming they have only
"isolated disagreements" concerning child-rearing.
The evidence indicates otherwise. Despite her claims that the
parties are able to co-parent, the evidence shows Deidra has
undermined Masa's role as a ...