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In re The Marriage of Spitzmiller

Court of Appeals of Iowa

October 10, 2018

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF JACKIE LEA SPITZMILLER AND SCOTT LOUIS SPITZMILLER Upon the Petition of JACKIE LEA SPITZMILLER, Petitioner-Appellant/Cross-Appellee, And Concerning SCOTT LOUIS SPITZMILLER, Respondent-Appellee/Cross-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Paul L. Macek, Judge.

         Jackie Spitzmiller appeals the spousal support provision of the decree dissolving her marriage to Scott Spitzmiller; Scott cross-appeals the property equalization payment.

          Michael J. McCarthy of McCarthy, Lammers & Hines, LLP, Davenport, for appellant.

          Jennie L. Clausen and Ryan M. Beckenbaugh of H.J. Dane Law Office, Davenport, for appellee.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and Tabor, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         This appeal and cross-appeal raise challenges to the spousal support and property distribution provisions of a dissolution decree.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Jackie and Scott Spitzmiller married in 2000 and divorced in 2017. The couple has one adult child. Jackie was fifty-two years old at the time of trial, and Scott was forty-seven.

         Scott worked as a cement mason foreman, a job that took a toll on his back and knees. He earned between $60, 000 and $68, 000 in the four years preceding trial and had an employment-based pension plan that would afford him retirement income at the age of fifty-eight.

         Jackie was a high-school graduate. She went to cosmetology school as well as community college for highway construction, and took "some technical engineering, mechanical drafting in the state of Colorado." She had employment experience as a forklift driver but most recently cleaned houses part-time.

         Jackie was an admitted alcoholic. She had a criminal record grounded in her alcoholism, which reduced her prospects for full-time employment.

         The couple purchased a home in 2013 for $72, 500. The home was saddled with a thirty-year mortgage and little equity. The couple owned several vehicles in addition to personal property.

         The district court found Scott's annual earning capacity at the time of trial was $60, 000 and Jackie's earning capacity was $18, 000. The court originally ordered Scott to pay Jackie $700 per month in traditional alimony until Jackie married, Scott drew pension benefits, or either party died, whichever occurred first. On Scott's motion for enlarged findings and conclusions, the court reduced the award to $450 per month. The court ordered Scott's pension divided pursuant to a qualified domestic relations order, valued the home at $72, 000 and awarded it to Scott together with the mortgage, distributed the vehicles and ...


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