AMANDA L. LUCK, Plaintiff-Appellee,
MICHAEL F. SALMON, Defendant-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Joel D. Novak,
father appeals from a district court order granting the
mother physical care of their child rather than joint
physical care. The father also appeals an award of attorney
fees to the mother.
W. Miller of Patterson Law Firm, L.L.P., Des Moines, for
M. Baumgartner of Hedberg & Boulton, P.C., Des Moines,
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and Tabor,
Salmon and Amanda Luck are the parents of an
elementary-school-aged son, K.S. Michael appeals the grant of
K.S.'s physical care to Amanda and asks us to modify the
decree to order joint physical care. In the alternative,
Michael asks for additional visitation. He also seeks
reduction or elimination of his obligation to pay
Amanda's trial attorney fees. Because we reach the same
conclusions as the district court after our fresh review of
the facts, we affirm the physical care and visitation
provisions. We find no abuse of discretion in the award of
trial attorney fees and remand for a calculation of
reasonable appellate attorney fees to be paid by Michael to
Facts and Prior Proceedings
was twenty-six and Amanda was sixteen years old when they
started dating. Amanda became pregnant at age seventeen.
Michael and Amanda lived together for the first five years of
K.S.'s life. Later they dated off-and-on, but the
relationship ended in 2011. In Amanda's view, she
provided the bulk of parenting for K.S. while Michael
traveled for his work. For a few years, the parties shared
custody, establishing their own schedule. Michael was
involved in K.S.'s sports endeavors and coached his
football team. Michael also had custody of his teenaged
daughter from a previous relationship.
alleged Michael was violent toward her during their
relationship. He was arrested for domestic violence in 2010
after trying to force Amanda into the backseat of a car and
pushing her to the pavement; he later pleaded guilty to
disorderly conduct. In addition, Amanda obtained a protective
order against Michael in July 2016 after receiving
information that he was making threats toward her. The
parties entered a consent agreement outlining Michael's
visitation. Also in 2016, Amanda filed a petition to
establish custody, child support, and visitation.
district court held a trial on her petition in April and May
2017 and entered its ruling July 10, granting the parties
joint legal custody. The court granted physical care to
Amanda and visitation to Michael. His visitation with K.S.
was set on alternating weekends and Wednesday evenings. The
court also established a summer and holiday visitation
schedule and ordered Michael to pay Amanda child support.
Finally, the court ordered Michael to pay $20, 000 in
Amanda's attorney fees. Michael filed a motion to
reconsider; he requested joint physical care and a reduction
in attorney fees. The court declined to grant joint physical
care or change the amount of the fee award. But the court
granted Michael's request for more visitation time by
extending his Wednesday visitation to Thursday mornings.
appeals the denial of his request for joint physical care. In
the alternative, he asks the court to modify the schedule to
increase his visitation to two days per week.
Standard of Review and Legal Principles
review custody decisions de novo. See Iowa R. App.
P. 6.907; Lambert v. Everist, 418 N.W.2d 40, 42
(Iowa 1988) (employing same legal analysis to resolve
questions concerning custody of a child born to unmarried
parents as in case of divorcing parents). "[W]e give
considerable weight to the sound judgment of the trial court
who has the benefit of hearing and ...