IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF MARY LOU ERNST-WOODHOUSE AND DONALD J. WOODHOUSE Upon the Petition of MARY LOU ERNST-WOODHOUSE, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning DONALD J. WOODHOUSE, Respondent-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Hamilton County, Timothy J.
Woodhouse appeals the economic provisions of the decree
dissolving his marriage to Mary Lou Ernst-Woodhouse.
B. Howie of Shindler, Anderson, Goplerud & Weese, PC,
West Des Moines, for appellant.
Bernard L. Spaeth, Jr. and Kimberly S. Bartosh of Whitfield
& Eddy, PLC, Des Moines, for appellee.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Mullins, JJ.
Donald Woodhouse appeals the economic provisions of the
decree dissolving his marriage to Dr. Mary Lou
Ernst-Woodhouse. Although the parties stipulated to most of
the issues before the district court, they were unable to
reach an agreement on a few of the assets accumulated during
their twenty-three-year marriage. On appeal, we review the
district court's determinations regarding two of these
assets and the overall fairness of the property division. We
also determine whether Donald is entitled to a child support
credit for extraordinary visitation.
review dissolution actions de novo. See In re Marriage of
Mauer, 874 N.W.2d 103, 106 (Iowa 2016). 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 (Iowa 1984).
reasons that follow, we affirm the property division as
first challenges the division of the parties' property.
At the time of the trial, Donald and Mary Lou had substantial
assets and little debt. They agreed to the disposition of
most of their assets. The assets that remained in dispute
included a thirty-two acre farm in Warren County and an
Edward Jones account valued at $497, 153. Donald challenges
the award of these two assets, as well as the overall
the court dissolves a marriage, it must divide the
parties' property equitably. See Iowa Code
§ 598.21(1) (2016). In determining what division is
equitable, the court must consider the factors set forth in
section 598.21(5). The trial court has considerable latitude
in making this determination, and we only reverse if
"there has been a failure to do equity." See In
re Marriage of Schriner, 695 N.W.2d 493, 496 (Iowa
2005). The question is what is fair and equitable in each
circumstance. In re Marriage of Hazen, 778 N.W.2d
55, 59 (Iowa Ct. App. 2009). Of course, opinions will vary as
to what is fair and equitable in each circumstance.
Warren County Farm.
first dispute concerns property referred to as the Warren
County Farm, which Donald and Mary Lou purchased in 2010 for
$610, 000. They agreed the farm's value at the time of
trial was $744, 500 but disagreed as to whom the court should
award the farm and whether any portion of its value should be
set aside to Mary as inherited property. The district court
set off $610, 000 to Mary Lou as inherited property,