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In re Marriage of Ficek

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 12, 2018

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF CHRISTI ANNE FICEK AND LAWRENCE PETER FICEK, JR Upon the Petition of CHRISTI ANNE FICEK, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning LAWRENCE PETER FICEK, JR., Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Kevin McKeever, Judge.

         Christi Ficek appeals from the decree dissolving her marriage to Lawrence Ficek.

          John C. Wagner of John C. Wagner Law Offices, PC, Amana, for appellant.

          Caitlin L. Slessor and Kerry A. Finley of Shuttleworth & Ingersoll, PLC, Cedar Rapids, for appellee.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vogel and Tabor, JJ.

          VOGEL, JUDGE.

         Christi Ficek appeals from a decree dissolving her marriage to Lawrence Ficek. Christi argues the district court erred by granting the parties joint physical custody of their child and awarding Lawrence part of Christi's retirement account and pension account. Because joint physical care is in the best interests of the child, we affirm the decree's physical care arrangement. Also, because of Lawrence's financial and nonfinancial contributions to the marriage, we affirm the district court's property distribution. We decline to award either party appellate attorney fees and tax costs to both parties equally.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Christi, born in 1974, and Lawrence, born in 1969, were married in 2007. They have one child together, L.M.F., born in 2007.[1] Christi is employed as the director of operations at an employee benefits sales company earning approximately $91, 250 per year. Lawrence is self-employed and earns approximately $40, 000 per year.

         Christi filed a petition for dissolution of the marriage in December 2015. A trial was held, beginning on July 5, 2017. On July 27, the district court filed a decree of dissolution that ordered joint legal custody and joint physical care of their child. Christi was ordered to pay $390.60 per month in child support. Lawrence was awarded one-half of the marital portion of Christi's retirement account and one half of her pension account. Christi appeals.

         II. Standard of Review

         We review dissolution actions de novo as they are heard in equity. In re Marriage of McDermott, 827 N.W.2d 671, 676 (Iowa 2013). "[W]e examine the entire record and adjudicate anew the issue of the property distribution." Id. While we give weight to the findings of the district court, particularly concerning the credibility of witnesses, we are not bound by those findings. Id. However, "[w]e will disturb the district court's ruling only when there has been a failure to do equity." Id. (quotation marks and citations omitted).

         III. Physical Care

         The question of physical care must be determined based on what is in the best interest of the child. In re Marriage of Hansen, 733 N.W.2d 683, 695 (Iowa 2007). "The ultimate objective of a physical care determination is to place the child in the environment most likely to bring him to healthy mental, physical, and social maturity." McKee v. Dicus, 785 N.W.2d 733, 737 (Iowa Ct. App. 2010). Stability and continuity in caregiving are primary factors in determining an award of physical care. Hansen, 733 N.W.2d at 696 (citing In re Marriage of ...


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