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In re Marriage of Teter

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 19, 2018

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF ANGELA SUE TETER AND CLARENCE WAYNE TETER Upon the Petition of ANGELA SUE TETER, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning CLARENCE WAYNE TETER, Respondent-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Boone County, Steven J. Oeth, Judge.

         Clarence Teter appeals the district court decision denying his motion to modify spousal support.

          Jennie L. Wilson-Moore of Wilson Law Firm, Conrad, for appellant.

          Chelsey N. Handley-Tomlinson and Larry J. Handley of Handley Law Firm, P.C., Ankeny, for appellee.

          Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         Clarence Teter appeals the district court's ruling on his petition for modification of spousal support. We find the spousal support award is traditional, not reimbursement, and can be modified. We reverse the district court order as to the spousal support provision and remand for further proceedings.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         Clarence and Angela Teter were married in 1993 and have five children. On December 31, 2012, the court entered a decree dissolving the marriage. During the marriage, Clarence was the primary financial support for the family. Angela was primary caregiver for their children and earned substantially less than Clarence when she worked outside the home. The dissolution decree ordered Clarence to pay Angela $600 per month in spousal support to terminate upon Angela's remarriage, the death of either party, or upon Clarence's sixty-seventh birthday.

         On May 13, 2017, Clarence filed a petition to modify spousal support due to an injury lowering his income and Angela's long engagement and financial support from her fiancé. Angela has been engaged for four years and owns a house with her fiancé but states she has no interest in remarrying. The court concluded the spousal support award was "reimbursement alimony" and so could not be modified. Clarence appeals.

         II. Standard of Review

         Our review in this equitable action is de novo. Iowa R. App. P. 6.907. We give weight to the factual findings of the district court, especially when considering the credibility of witnesses, but are not bound by those findings. Iowa R. App. P. 6.904(3)(g). "Precedent is of little value as our determination must depend on the facts of the particular case." In re Marriage of Fennelly, 737 N.W.2d 97, 100 (Iowa 2007).

         III. Spousal Support

         Clarence claims the court wrongly classified the spousal support award as "reimbursement alimony"; he argues it should be considered rehabilitative because Angela ...


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