Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Marriage of Baccam

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 7, 2018

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF LINE NANG BACCAM AND KHAMPHA ONMANIVONG Upon the Petition of LINE NANG BACCAM, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning KHAMPHA ONMANIVONG, Respondent-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, David M. Porter (existence of common law marriage) and Lawrence P. McLellan (dissolution decree), Judges.

         Khampha Onmanivong appeals the decree dissolving his common law marriage to Line Nang Baccam.

          Eric R. Eshelman, Des Moines, for appellant.

          Katherine S. Sargent, Des Moines, for appellee.

          Considered by Mullins, P.J., McDonald, J., and Carr, S.J. [*]

          CARR, Senior Judge.

         Khampha Onmanivong appeals the decree dissolving his common law marriage to Line Nang Baccam. He first challenges the finding that a common law marriage existed. He also challenges the provisions of the decree relating to spousal support, property division, child support, and attorney fees.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         Line and Khampha met in February 1990. At the time, Line was twenty years old and Khampha was twenty-eight. The two began dating shortly thereafter. Line moved into the home Khampha owned in 2003. Their first child was born in 2004, followed by the birth of a second child in 2006.

         There is a dispute as to whether the couple married. Although they never obtained a marriage license, they did take part in a religious ceremony in front of family and friends on October 2, 2004. The invitation for the ceremony described it as a "Tai Dam wedding engagement." Line claims it was a wedding ceremony and that the language used on the invitation was due to a translation mistake she made. Khampha claims it was only an engagement ceremony.

         On April 9, 2009, Khampha and Line signed a certification and declaration of common law marriage in front of a notary public. The document allowed Khampha to add Line to the family health insurance plan offered by his employer. It states:

We, the undersigned, being husband and wife under the laws of the State of Iowa, do severally and jointly certify, declare, and acknowledge, to and for the benefit of Bridgestone America Holding, Inc., that we:
1. each have a present intention to be husband and wife;
2. each intended to be husband and wife at the time our common law marriage was established;
3. each had the capacity to enter into the marriage contract;
4. on or about 3-30-02 have cohabited and continue to cohabit as husband and wife;
5. have publicly declared that we are husband and wife;
6. believe we are reputed to be husband and wife in the community where we reside.

         In May 2015, Line petitioned to dissolve the marriage. In his answer, Khampha denied the parties were ever married. The district court held a bifurcated trial in order to determine the existence of a common law marriage separately from the dissolution issues. Following the first phase of trial, the district court determined the parties were married on October 2, 2004. Khampha appealed from that ruling, but our supreme court deemed the ruling interlocutory and denied his appeal.

         The district court continued to the second phase of trial to determine issues related to property, support, and child custody. It entered a decree dissolving the marriage and dividing the parties' property and debts. Pursuant to the parties' agreement, the court granted Line physical care of the children. It also granted the parties joint legal custody of the children. The court ordered Khampha to pay Line $1002.87 per month in child support, $1000.00 per month in spousal support, and $8000.00 in attorney fees.

         On appeal, Khampha challenges both the finding that the parties were married as well as the provisions of the decree dissolving their marriage.

         II. Discussion.

         A. Existence of a common law marriage.

         We review the determination of a common law marriage de novo. See In re Marriage of Martin, 681 N.W.2d 612, 617 (Iowa 2004). Because public policy does not favor common law marriages, we carefully scrutinize claims of their existence. See id. The burden of proof rests with the party asserting the existence of a common law marriage. See id.

         Three elements must be satisfied before the court will find a common law marriage exists. See id. First, both parties must have had a present intent and agreement to be married. See id. With regard to this requirement,

an express agreement is not required. An implied agreement may support a common law marriage where one party intends present marriage and the conduct of the other party reflects the same intent. The conduct of the parties and their general community reputation is evidence that can be used to support a present intent and agreement.

Id. (citations omitted). Second, the parties must have engaged in continuous cohabitation. See id. Finally, there must have been a public declaration that the parties are married. See id.

The public declaration or holding out to the public is considered to be the acid test of a common law marriage. This means there can be no secret common law marriage. Yet, it does not mean that all public declarations must be entirely consistent with marriage. A substantial holding out to the public in general is sufficient.

Id. (citations omitted).

         Khampha does not dispute that he and Line cohabited but argues there is insufficient evidence to show a present intent and agreement to be married or a public declaration of marriage. He disputes that the October 2, 2004 ceremony was a wedding ceremony, citing the testimony of four witnesses who attended the ceremony and did not believe he and Line were married. We note that those witnesses are related to Khampha by birth or marriage. Their testimony is in ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.