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In re Marriage of Monahan

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 26, 2018

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF JEFFREY J. MONAHAN AND RONAE L. MONAHAN Upon the Petition of JEFFREY J. MONAHAN, Petitioner-Appellee, AndConcerning RONAE L. MONAHAN n/k/a RONAE L. SCHMEITS, Respondent-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Shelby County, Gregory W. Steensland, Judge.

         Wife challenges the economic provisions of the decree dissolving her marriage. AFFIRMED AS MODIFIED AND REMANDED.

          Andrew B. Howie of Shindler, Anderson, Goplerud & Weese, PC, West Des Moines, for appellant.

          Michael J. Murphy of Murphy & Murphy Law Offices, PC, Council Bluffs, for appellee.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Mullins and McDonald, JJ.

          MCDONALD, Judge.

         This appeal arises out of the acrimonious dissolution of the thirty-year marriage of Jeff and Ronae Monahan. During the course of the proceedings, there were allegations of a murderous plot, domestic abuse, embezzlement, theft, fraud, waste, and dissipation of marital assets, among other things. Some of the accusations were well-founded. For example, in violation of a court order, Ronae entered the marital home and took a substantial amount of the jewelry and personal property. Ronae also had her employee burn relevant business records. In addition, the district court found there is some evidence supporting Jeff's contention that Ronae investigated how to kill Jeff by poisoning him with Coumadin.

         The district court received the evidence over the course of a four-day trial, divided the marital property, ordered Jeff to pay Ronae an equalization payment, and awarded Ronae alimony:

Jeff shall pay a cash settlement to Ronae as part of the distribution of assets in the total amount of $294, 480. That cash settlement shall be payable in 7 equal annual installments of $42, 068.57. The first installment is due July 1, 2017, and installments in that same amount are due on July 1 of each subsequent year until the cash settlement is paid. This cash settlement is a judgment against Jeff in favor of Ronae. As long as payment [sic] are timely made they shall not accrue interest.
Commencing July 1, 2024, Jeff shall pay spousal support to Ronae in the amount of $2, 000 per month. This spousal support shall continue until either party dies, Ronae remarries, or Ronae reaches the age of 66, whichever comes first.

         On appeal, Ronae contends the district court failed to do equity in dividing the marital property and awarding her spousal support. She also contends the award of spousal support should be secured by a life insurance policy insuring Jeff's life. Finally, she seeks trial and appellate attorney fees.

         I.

         Our review in a marriage action is de novo. See In re Marriage of McDermott, 827 N.W.2d 671, 676 (Iowa 2013). "Although our review is de novo, we afford deference to the district court for institutional and pragmatic reasons. This means we give weight to the district court's findings of fact. This also means we will affirm the district court unless the district court failed to do substantial equity." Hensch v. Mysak, 902 N.W.2d 822, 824 (Iowa Ct. App. 2017). We review the district ...


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