IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF MICHELLE L. LESLINE AND JIMMY R. LESLINE Upon the Petition of MICHELLE L. LESLINE, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning JIMMY R. LESLINE, Respondent-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Jeffrey L.
father appeals the custody, child-support, and
division-of-assets determinations of a decree of dissolution.
S. Horneber of Horneber Law Firm, PC, Sioux City, for
Jacquelyn S. Johnson of Law Office of Jacquelyn Johnson,
Sioux City, for appellee.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Bower and McDonald, JJ.
R. Lesline appeals the district court's dissolution
decree granting physical care of the children, H.L.L.,
H.J.L., and A.L.H.L., to Michelle L. Hight Lesline, with
visitation for Jimmy. Jimmy requests the decree be modified
to place the children in his physical care. Jimmy also asks
for a modification of the child support and economic
provisions of the decree.
Background Facts and Proceedings
and Michelle Lesline were married on November 19, 2008. Three
children, H.L.L. (2006), H.J.L. (2008), and A.L.H.L. (2013)
were born of the relationship. During most of the marriage,
the parties resided at a house in Sioux City they rented from
Jimmy's parents. In 2011, the parties separated for a
time but reconciled before the dissolution was final.
is employed by Load King in Elk Point, South Dakota, as a
welder/fitter and production laborer. He generally works from
6:00 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., sometimes until 4:30 p.m. He is
working to complete his general equivalency diploma (GED). He
continues to live in the marital house in Sioux City, which
he rents from his parents. Jimmy remodeled the house in 2017
after discovering it had mold causing breathing issues for
two of the children. Jimmy's parents and sisters'
families live close to Jimmy's home and help him on a
regular basis with child care.
works as a pharmacy technician at Wal-Mart in Sioux City. Her
work schedule is 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. four days a week,
1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. one day a week, and every fourth
weekend. She earned her GED and certification as a pharmacy
technician during the marriage. Early in the relationship,
Michelle stayed home with the children, and she was the
children's primary caregiver throughout the entire
relationship. Michelle resides in a home she purchased in
April 2017 in Sioux City a few miles from Jimmy's home.
Jimmy and Michelle have a history of substance abuse. Both
parties are long-time smokers, though Jimmy quit in March
2017. Jimmy quit drinking alcohol in January 2017. Michelle
testified she still smokes but does so outside. Each has used
controlled substances in the past, but no evidence indicates
current use. Testimony indicated Michelle has at least once
taken prescription medications not prescribed to her since
the separation. Each party testified to times the other party
was under the influence or using alcohol or controlled
substances while they had care of the children.
filed a petition to dissolve the marriage on February 3,
2017, and moved out of the family home in March. The parties
agreed to joint legal custody, and initially co-parented well
with joint physical care. But as time passed, their ability
to communicate and get along declined, and by May 15, at a
hearing on temporary matters, both parties requested physical
care of the children. The court awarded Jimmy physical care
and control of the children, and set child support payments
at $415 per month from Michelle to Jimmy. The order included
a right of first refusal for care of the children.
the temporary order, Jimmy's family assisted with care of
the children in the mornings and during school breaks. Jimmy
failed to facilitate the relationship between Michelle and
the children by not responding to messages from Michelle,
changing medical providers for the children and not providing
Michelle notice of appointments, and failing to pass on
information from the school regarding the children's
programs and conferences. Once school started, Michelle asked
to care for the children in the morning but did not agree to
Jimmy bringing the children to her home at 5:00 a.m. ...