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In re Marriage of Hockemeyer

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 26, 2018

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF JEFF MICHAEL HOCKEMEYER AND RENAE HOCKEMEYER Upon the Petition of JEFF MICHAEL HOCKEMEYER, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning RENAE HOCKEMEYER, Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Grundy County, Joel A. Dalrymple, Judge.

         A father appeals the physical care determination of a dissolution decree.

          Barry S. Kaplan and C. Aron Vaughn of Kaplan & Frese, LLP, Marshalltown, for appellant.

          John J. Wood and Kate B. Mitchell of Beecher, Field, Walker, Morris, Hoffman & Johnson, PC, Waterloo, for appellee.

          Heard by Vogel, P.J., Tabor, J., and Carr, S.J. [*]

          CARR, SENIOR JUDGE.

         Jeff Hockemeyer appeals the physical care provision of the decree dissolving his marriage with Renae Hockemeyer. Jeff claims the district court should not have granted Renae physical care of the child.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         Jeff and Renae Hockemeyer met in 2007 in Kansas City, Missouri. After Jeff was laid off following closure of the construction office for which he worked, the two moved together to Jeff's hometown of Grundy Center in February 2008. They married in 2011, and had one child, M.J.H., in 2013. During the marriage the parties resided in Grundy Center.

         In May 2016, the parties separated, with Jeff moving out of the marital home. In July, Jeff filed a petition for dissolution of the marriage. The parties reached an agreement to share care of M.J.H. The marital home was foreclosed on following the closing of Renae's clothing store in 2016.

         Jeff has worked on the family farm eight miles northeast of Grundy Center since 2008 with his father and brother. Jeff's family is close, with Jeff's parents and brothers living in the Grundy Center area and Des Moines. Jeff has been living eight miles south of town with a roommate, but plans to move into Grundy Center.

         At the time of trial, Renae worked part time for Cambrian Granite & Stone in Cedar Falls and hoped to move to full time soon. In August 2017, Renae moved to Cedar Falls, twenty-seven miles northeast of Grundy Center, where she lives in a duplex house. She enrolled M.J.H. in daycare in Cedar Falls. Renae is close to her family, who live in Nebraska and Colorado. Renae assured the court she planned stay in the area to maintain M.J.H.'s relationship with her father.

         During the marriage, Renae acted as primary caretaker for M.J.H. Renae scheduled doctor appointments, signed M.J.H. up for extracurricular activities, and was the one getting M.J.H. ready for the day. When M.J.H. would get sick, it was usually Renae staying home and taking M.J.H. to doctor appointments. Jeff would step in and help with care when needed, was involved in M.J.H.'s day-to-day life, and shared in household chores. Renae and Jeff consider each other to be good parents.

         The district court entered its dissolution decree on December 5. The parties agreed to joint legal custody. The court found Renae was M.J.H.'s primary caregiver but noted Jeff was hands-on and active in raising M.J.H. The court noted if the parties lived closer together it would have ordered joint physical care, but found the distance between the residences and M.J.H.'s eventual school district made "shared physical placement . . . too troublesome and onerous upon the child."[1] The court granted physical care to Renae with visitation for Jeff. Jeff filed a motion to ...


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