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In re Marriage of Barns

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 5, 2018

And Concerning PHILLIP TYLER BARNS, Respondent-Appellant. Upon the Petition of KIMBERLEY IRENE BARNS, Petitioner-Appellee,

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Christopher L. Bruns, Judge.

         Phillip Barns challenges the economic provisions of the decree dissolving his marriage to Kimberly Barns.

          Natalie H. Cronk of Cronk & Waterman, PLC, Iowa City, for appellant.

          Allison M. Heffern and Kristen A. Shaffer of Shuttleworth & Ingersoll, P.L.C.., Cedar Rapids, for appellee.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Mullins, JJ.

          MULLINS, JUDGE.

         Phillip (Phil) Barns appeals the decree dissolving his marriage to Kimberly Barns. He challenges the trial court's award of spousal support to Kimberly as inequitable in both amount and duration and challenges the disposition of post-martial growth in the value of premarital assets. Kimberly requests an award of appellate attorney fees.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Kimberly and Phil were married July 20, 1996, when Kimberly was twenty-six and Phil was forty. The marriage produced three children: JTB (born in 2002), EAB (born in 2005), and APB (born in 2007). Kimberly and Phil met when they both worked at the same hospital in San Bernardino, California. Kimberly was a full-time labor-and-delivery nurse; Phil was an emergency room physician. At the time of their marriage, they lived in Long Beach. Kimberly obtained her Bachelor's degree in nursing five months after the initiation of the marriage.

         In late summer 1996, Phil accepted a position at Mercy Hospital in Cedar Rapids. The couple bought a home in Cedar Rapids, where Phil continued to live at the time of trial. In 1997, while working at Mercy Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Phil also began working at Mercy Hospital in Dubuque. Phil left his position at Mercy in Cedar Rapids in 1998 and continued to work part time in Dubuque. In 1999, he joined Great River Medical Center in Burlington. The couple bought an additional home in Nauvoo, Illinois and split their time between the two homes, depending on Phil's work schedule.

         In the early 2000s, Phil and his father began raising bison at his father's farm in Illinois to market as a healthier alternative to red meat. Kimberly assisted the business, selling the meat at farmers' markets. The bison business was never profitable and was dissolved in 2013. Additionally, prior to their marriage, Phil had purchased a home in Lee County for his mother to use as a school. He retained ownership of this home throughout the marriage and at the time of trial. Phil's father died in 2010 and Phil and his sister are the sole heirs to their father's estate, which includes their father's original farm and his interest in a farm Phil and his father purchased together.

         After moving to Iowa, Kimberly initially worked full time as a labor-and-delivery nurse at Mercy Hospital in Cedar Rapids. After less than a year, she reduced to part time. Kimberly further reduced her hours after the birth of JTB. She continued working as a nurse until six months after EAB was born, at which time she did not have any other steady employment and became mainly a stay-at-home mother.

         In 2006, Phil left Great River Medical Center for a position at Mercy Hospital in Iowa City. He generally worked more than forty hours per week along with work associated with the bison business, while Kimberly provided the majority of the day-to-day care for the children. In 2008, their Cedar Rapids home burned down and they sold the Nauvoo home. The family lived in a trailer on the Cedar Rapids property while the house was rebuilt on the same lot. Kimberly acted as the general contractor for rebuilding the home, which took nearly two years to complete.

         In 2010, Kimberly started working as an assistant directress at Cedar Valley Montessori, where the youngest child attended at the time. The other two children had attended there before going to school. Kimberly initially worked twenty-five hours per week while the children were in school, which eventually increased to thirty-five hours. She earned approximately eleven dollars per hour. In 2014, she obtained a part-time position as an RN at Mercy in Cedar Rapids, where she continued to work at the time of trial. She typically worked thirty to thirty-five hours with a minimum of twenty hours guaranteed. Kimberly also continued to occasionally pick up shifts at Cedar Valley. If she worked forty hours per week, she believed she would earn approximately $53, 000.00 per year.

         Phil worked at Mercy in Iowa City until February 2017. He then started working at Finley Hospital in Dubuque as the director of the emergency department. He continued to work at Finley at the time of trial. He earns $180.00 per hour with a minimum of 1728 hours per year, in addition to shift differentials, incentives and bonuses. He calculated his gross annual income as $354, 646.00.

         The relationship between Kimberly and Phil broke down in 2013. Kimberly announced to Phil that she wanted to dissolve the marriage in February 2013 but remained in the marital home where the atmosphere was strained and the parties slept in different rooms. She moved out at the end of November or beginning of December and moved into a rental in Marion with the ...

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