IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF DEANNE E. HAYES AND ERIC J. HAYES Upon the Petition of DEANNE E. HAYES, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning ERIC J. HAYES, Respondent-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Monica L.
Zrinyi Wittig, Judge.
ex-husband appeals an order declining to modify his child and
spousal support payments.
A. Splinter of Splinter Law Office, Dubuque, for appellant.
T. Hoover of Hoover Law Firm P.L.L.C., Epworth, for appellee.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vogel and Tabor, JJ.
Hayes appeals the denial of his request to modify his child
and spousal payments. Eric contends circumstances have
substantially changed since entry of the decree dissolving
his twenty-five-year marriage to Deanne Hayes. He asserts
changes in the parties' incomes-his decrease and her
increase-warrant modification of his obligations. Eric argues
any decrease in payments should be retroactive. He also asks
for appellate attorney fees from Deanne.
the district court, we do not find Eric's job loss and
resulting decrease in income was self-inflicted as Iowa case
law applies the concept. Eric proved a substantial change in
circumstances meriting modification. We remand to the
district court for recalculation of Eric's child and
spousal support obligations in line with the parties' new
Facts and Prior Proceedings
and Deanne married in 1988 and divorced in 2013. They have
eight children together; six were minors at the time of
dissolution. The decree awarded Deanne physical care of the
children. At the time of dissolution, the parties stipulated
Eric's yearly income was $60, 000 and Deanne's was
$21, 017. The stipulation set Eric's child support at
$1542 with incremental steps down as the children reached
adulthood. The decree awarded Deanne $400 a month in spousal
support for sixty months.
worked at John Deere until mid-April 2017, when the company
fired him. Eric traced his job loss to health issues. In
early March, Eric sought emergency-room treatment for high
blood pressure. Medical personnel inserted "a couple
stents" and prescribed him medication. While adjusting
to the medication, Eric missed work about once per week. Eric
testified he tried to timely give his employer the necessary
paperwork to support his medical leave, but explained
"there was a mix-up at the doctor's office."
Because Eric turned in the paperwork late, John Deere refused
to accept it and fired him.
exhausted his appeal options within John Deere and learned in
June 2017 his termination was final. But as early as May 2017
Eric began looking for other employment. While scouting for
jobs similar to his position with John Deere, Eric worked at
a grocery store making twelve dollars per hour. Eric used his
income from the grocery store and withdrawals from his 401K
to fulfill his child support obligations. In September
2017, Eric began working at FarmTek in a job much like his
previous position with John Deere, but with significantly
lower pay. His annual income from FarmTek was about $35, 300.
the parties' marriage, Deanne spent most of her time as a
stay-at-home mother. At the time of dissolution, she earned
income from Dubuque Bank & Trust, as well as Pampered
Chef. In 2016, the bank promoted Deanne and raised her pay.
Deanne's end-of-year pay stub for 2016 showed her income
was around $36, 904-$15, 887 more than her stipulated income
petitioned for modification in June 2016, alleging a
substantial change in circumstances based on ...