IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF JOSHUA ROBERT DEMMER AND JACQUELYN A. DEMMER Upon the Petition of JOSHUA ROBERT DEMMER, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning JACQUELYN A. DEMMER, Respondent-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Delaware County, Monica
Demmer appeals from the custody, support, and property
distribution provisions of the decree dissolving her marriage
to Joshua Demmer.
D. Long and Kevin C. Rigdon of Howes Law Firm, PC, Cedar
Rapids, for appellant.
Crystal L. Usher of Nazette, Marner, Nathanson & Shea,
LLP, Cedar Rapids, for appellee.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., Mullins, J. and Mahan, S.J.
DANILSON, Chief Judge.
(Jacque) Demmer appeals from the custody, support, and
property distribution provisions of the decree dissolving her
marriage to Joshua (Josh) Demmer. Jacque contends the trial
court erred in granting sole legal custody and physical care
of the parties' three children to Josh. She also asserts
the court improperly placed restrictions on visitation with
her parents, erred in not awarding her spousal support,
failed to divide the marital property equitably, erred in
awarding Josh with the tax dependency exemptions, and
improperly calculated child support. Jacque also argues she
was entitled to trial attorney fees and asks that we award
her appellate attorney fees.
de novo review, we modify the decree to provide for joint
legal custody and strike the reference to Jacque's
parents' care-providing abilities. We award no appellate
Background Facts and Proceedings.
and Josh met on line in 2006. Jacque was working full time
and living in Cedar Rapids with friends. Josh was working
full time as an architect and living with friends in
Waterloo. The two were engaged in May 2007.
2007, Jacque was involved in a car accident and, in the
aftermath of the accident, she became estranged from her
parents. Jacque moved in with Josh following the car accident
and began graduate school at the University of Northern Iowa
(UNI) in August.
December 4, and 11, 2007, Jacque and Josh attended two
counseling sessions together and, on December 12, Jacque was
involved in a serious car accident on her way to work in
Cedar Rapids. She sustained several injuries and required
speech therapy after the accident. Though Jacque had
previously suffered from migraines, her migraines worsened
after the accident and were often debilitating.
February 2008, Jacque began seeing a counselor, where she
focused on the emotional aspects "affect[ing]
Jacque's self-esteem and how she interpreted her
interactions with other people." In April 2008, Jacque
was referred to a doctor for possible medication in relation
and Jacque bought a house in Waterloo in early 2008. To
purchase the home, Josh received a gift of $20, 000 from his
parents for the down payment. In addition, Josh's parents
loaned him an additional $20, 000 to go toward the down
parties married on July 26, 2008. She continued treatment and
was prescribed medication for anxiety. Jacque gave birth to
the parties' first child in May 2010 and experienced
post-partum depression and anxiety. She was hospitalized in a
October, Jacque returned to UNI counseling services "to
address anxiety issues." She reported being prescribed
medication for anxiety and that she was prescribed Darvaset
for her migraines but would rather get Hydrocodone again.
Jacque graduated with a Masters in School Counseling degree
in December 2010.
graduation, Jacque first worked as a substitute counselor at
an elementary school beginning April 3, 2011. The position
was supposed to run through the end of the semester but did
not. On May 1, Jacque took an overdose of Alprazolam, a
benzodiazepine prescribed to treat anxiety. Jacque was about
four months' pregnant at the time.
gave birth to the couple's second child in October 2011.
In November, Jacque began working at GMAC Mortgage. Jacque
worked there for approximately six months.
2012, the parties sold their Waterloo residence and began to
rent a house in Manchester where Josh's parents lived.
Prior to the sale of their home, Josh and Jacque had borrowed
an additional $21, 000 from his parents to pay off some of
Jacque's high interest student loans. Upon the sale of
the Waterloo house, they repaid Josh's parents the $21,
000 for payment of the student loan but did not repay the
$20, 000 loaned to them in 2008 for the down payment.
early 2012, Jacque was experiencing migraines about three
times per week, which left her incapable of caring for the
children so Josh would take the children to his mother while
3, 2012, Jacque was again hospitalized for suicidal thoughts.
While she was in the hospital, Josh and his parents cared for
the two children.
resigned from GMAC before her employment was terminated for
excessive absences. She then found another position, but did
not complete required training, and thus could not continue
this time period in 2012, a clinical note indicates Jacque
"lacks insight, in spite of a lot of explanation about
the nature of her illness and importance of taking her
medication regularly. Compliance with medication is major
totaled one of the family vehicles on February 4, 2013.
October 2, 2013, Jacque again attempted suicide. She took
many pills and then sent a message to a friend, who contacted
emergency personnel. Both children were present and awake
when the police arrived and Jacque was taken to the hospital
by ambulance. After her condition stabilized, Jacque was
taken to the inpatient psychiatric ward for a week.
of several checks written in 2014, Josh's parents loaned
the couple $280, 000 to purchase a lot and build a house in
Manchester. All of the checks were made payable to Josh
Demmer. On December 29, 2014, after the house was
constructed, Josh and Jacque signed a note and mortgage for
the $280, 000 owed to Josh's parents.
February 6, 2014, Jacque went to take a shower and slit her
wrists while Josh and the children were in the living room.
Josh found Jacque bleeding, though the cuts were not deep,
bandaged her arms, and got her to bed.
March 2014, the couple found out Jacque was pregnant again.
In April 2014, Jacque began to work at Abbe Center in a Delhi
facility. She worked there for four months until she found
her "dream job" as a school counselor in August
2014. Jacque gave birth to the parties' third child in
October 2014. Jacque's employment was terminated on
January 5, 2015.
January 6, 2015, Jacque was again admitted to a psychiatric
unit. In February, Jacque was participating in follow-up
psychiatric and psychological treatment. After release from
the hospital and through March 2015, the children were in
full-time day care even though Jacque was home. Jacque then
began taking care of the children. On April 5, after an
argument with Josh about Easter baskets, Jacque left the
family residence with the three children.
April 6, 2015, Jacque filed a petition for a domestic abuse
protective order. On April 10, Josh filed a dissolution
petition, seeking joint legal custody and physical care of
the children, as well as an equitable division of the marital
property. The district court set a hearing on temporary
matters on May 12.
April 21, a hearing was held concerning Jacque's request
for no-contact order. The court made no findings as to
Jacque's claims of domestic abuse. The parties consented
to a no-contact order and the court entered a temporary order
that the children would be with Josh from Friday ...