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In re Marriage of Wood

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 6, 2019

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF BRIDGETT MARIE WOOD AND CLINTON ANDREW WOOD Upon the Petition of BRIDGETT MARIE WOOD, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning CLINTON ANDREW WOOD, n/k/a CLINTON ANDREW LUNDEN, Respondent-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Andrew Chappell, Judge.

         Clinton Lunden appeals the physical care, visitation, and child support provisions of the decree dissolving his marriage to Bridgett Wood. AFFIRMED AS MODIFIED.

          Mark D. Fisher of Nidey Erdahl Fisher Pilkington & Meier, PLC, Cedar Rapids, for appellant.

          Crystal L. Usher of Nazette, Marner, Nathanson & Shea, LLP, Cedar Rapids, for appellee.

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

          MAHAN, Senior Judge.

         Clinton Lunden appeals the physical care, visitation, and child support provisions of the decree dissolving his marriage to Bridgett Wood. Upon our review, we affirm as modified to provide Clinton additional visitation during the summer.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Clinton and Bridgett married in 2009.[1] They have two children together, I.W. and F.W., born in 2011 and 2014. Clinton and Bridgett purchased a home in Cedar Rapids in 2008, where they lived until they separated. Clinton shared physical care of two children from a prior marriage, who also lived with them when they were not with their mother.

         Clinton is thirty-eight years old. He has a degree in human services. He worked for ASAC from 2008 to 2015. He has also worked as a journeyman plumber and a custodian. He has some physical injuries relating to prior worker's compensation claims, and he has two pending worker's compensation claims. He has been unemployed since July 2016. He testified he has applied for disability and was approved through vocational rehabilitation to be educated in a different field. Clinton testified he receives financial assistance through monetary gifts from a couple he refers to as his godparents.

         Bridgett is twenty-nine years old. She has degrees in criminal justice and business management and a master's degree in business administration. She worked for the Linn County Auditor's Office until 2016 and then at an appliance store in Iowa City. At the time of trial in August 2017, Bridgett testified she was seeking different employment in order to receive better health insurance and benefits and she was applying for jobs in the Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and Waterloo areas.

         The parties separated in late 2015, and Clinton moved from the family home. Bridgett filed a petition for dissolution of marriage in November 2015. That same day, she filed a petition for relief from domestic abuse, alleging physical abuse and threats by Clinton. The district court entered a protective order by consent agreement.[2]

         In January 2016, the district court entered an order on temporary matters, ordering physical care of the children with Bridgett and visitation with Clinton overnight every Tuesday and Thursday and every other weekend.[3] The temporary order found it "equitable to impute income to [Clinton] at the level he was earning before becoming unemployed in September 2015" and ordered Clinton to pay child support in the amount of $565.81 per month. Bridgett was ordered to continue to maintain health insurance for the children.

         Bridgett remained in the marital home until September 2016, when the home was foreclosed and she moved into an apartment. Bridgett began a relationship with Brian, who was on parole for convictions of robbery and willful injury stemming from an incident when he was nineteen years old. Brian testified he had "grown up a lot" following the incident and his time in prison, and he stated he no longer used drugs.

         Clinton moved in with his girlfriend Angela in Hiawatha in October 2016. Angela also has no children. Both Clinton and Bridgett testified to the long term plans of their respective relationships. Testimony presented from both parties' witnesses indicated Brian and Angela were supportive and stable influences for the parties' children.

         Clinton, without consulting Bridgett, began services through Tanager Place for I.W. Although Bridgett did not agree to the services, she participated. There was no indication I.W. needed to continue attending therapy, and Bridgett was concerned Clinton would also enlist services for F.W.

         Trial took place over three days in August 2017. The main issue before the court was which party would receive physical care of the children. The court heard testimony from Bridgett, Brian, two of the children's previous daycare providers, the parties' former neighbor, Bridgett's sister, Clinton, Angela, Clinton's ex-wife, Clinton's ...


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