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In re Marriage of Dorr

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 6, 2019

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF LINDA L. DORR AND FRED L. DORR Upon the Petition of LINDA L. DORR, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning FRED L. DORR, Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Dustria A. Relph, Judge.

         Linda Dorr appeals the district court's decree as to the spousal support award, property division, and denial of attorney fees in a marriage dissolution decree. AFFIRMED.

          Matthew G. Sease of Kemp & Sease, Des Moines, for appellant.

          Matthew O'Hollearn and Thomas Levis of Brick Gentry, PC, West Des Moines, for appellee.

          Heard by Tabor, P.J., Bower, J., and Mahan, S.J. [*]

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         Linda Dorr appeals the decree dissolving her marriage with Fred Dorr, challenging the spousal support award, the division of property, and the district court's failure to award attorney fees. We affirm the district court's decree.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         Linda and Fred married in 1984. It was the second marriage for each of them. Two children, now adults, were born of the marriage; Linda has a child from her previous marriage. The parties have lived in the same marital home since 1984.

         Linda, who was born in 1953, has a high school education and has taken some college courses. She left the workforce in 1985 to stay home with their children. In 1994 Linda started a business designing and creating teddy bears that she continues to this day. From 2001 to 2011, Linda worked as an administrative assistant, then office manager until her position was eliminated in 2011. She then chose to retire at age fifty-eight. She opened an antique business with her sister in 2013. Linda has not had regular employment since 2011, and she loses money on her teddy bear and antique business ventures. Linda inherited approximately $200, 000 following her mother's death in 2014. This inheritance is expected to generate $10, 000 per year in income. In January 2019, Linda will begin receiving $15, 944 per year in Social Security benefits.

         Fred was born in 1947. He has practiced law in Iowa since before the parties married. As partner in a law firm, Fred's income has fluctuated, but has generally exceeded $100, 000 per year. Fred's law firm income is dependent on fees he has generated, and he typically draws $10, 000 per month. Fred inherited approximately $1.9 million of assets-including stock and farmland-from various trusts and entities following his mother's death in 2013. During his mother's life, Fred acted as a trustee for these family entities. Fred performed management tasks for the trusts and his mother's care for eleven years. After his mother died, the trusts were gradually terminated and the assets distributed in 2015 and 2016. Fred's share of the distributed assets now generates an income of approximately $48, 000 per year. Fred also receives $31, 888 per year in Social Security benefits.

         Linda filed a petition for dissolution on July 26, 2016. On September 15, the parties filed a stipulation on temporary matters, with Fred paying $5750 per month into a joint bank account for Linda to pay the family expenses. Throughout the marriage, Fred generally paid the bills coming in and deposited money in Linda's account for other expenses. The parties paid for college for the three children, including withdrawing money from retirement accounts and taking out loans to pay the expenses.

         A trial was held in August 2017. At the time of trial Linda was sixty-four years old and Fred was sixty-nine years old. A week prior to trial, Linda found a lump and was subsequently diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer.

         The court awarded each party their respective vehicles, bank accounts, retirement accounts, debts, and inherited assets. Linda was awarded the marital home and accompanying mortgage and the majority of household contents. Fred was ordered to pay Linda a $25, 000 equalization payment. The court awarded Linda traditional spousal support in the amount of $5500 per month until she turns sixty-six, then stepping down to $5000 per month until either party dies or Linda remarries. The court ordered each party be responsible for their attorney fees and one-half of the court costs. Linda appeals.

         II. Standard of Review

         The standard of review for an action dissolving a marriage is de novo. In re Marriage of Hansen, 733 N.W.2d 683, 690 (Iowa 2007). We only disturb the district court's order if there has been a failure to do equity. In re Marriage of McDermott, 827 N.W.2d 671, 676 (Iowa 2013). We give weight to but are not bound by the ...


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