IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF CYNTHIA SUE CURTIS AND ROSS LANE CURTIS Upon the Petition of CYNTHIA SUE CURTIS, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning ROSS LANE CURTIS, Respondent-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Patrick
former husband appeals the district court's denial of his
request to modify spousal support.
JohnPatrick Brown of Winstein, Kavensky & Cunningham,
LLC, Rock Island, Illinois, for appellant.
Cynthia Sue Curtis, Chillicothe, Illinois, self-represented
Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.
2015 decree dissolving the marriage of Ross and Cynthia
Curtis, the district court ordered Ross to pay $1000 per
month in spousal support. Citing a change in his employment,
he now seeks to reduce his payments to $250 per month. The
district court denied Ross's request to modify the
support payments, finding he did not prove a substantial
change in circumstances. The court also refused to modify the
spousal support in June 2016. Because Ross did not offer
credible evidence to show his earning capacity had decreased
since the previous orders, we affirm.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
and Cynthia had a twenty-seven-year marriage. Cynthia was the
primary caretaker for their two children during the marriage.
Ross had served in the naval reserve and testified he
suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Both
spouses had learning disabilities when in school. At the time
of the divorce, Cynthia worked thirty hours per week in
customer service at Target, earning $11.37 per hour. Ross was
a police officer for the city of Davenport, earning $33.35
per hour for full-time work. Given their disparities in income
and other factors, the court ordered Ross to pay spousal
support in the amount of $1000 per month until Cynthia
reached full retirement, died, or remarried.
March 2016, six months after the divorce, Ross sought to
modify the spousal support, alleging he was no longer
employed as a Davenport police officer and his income was
"greatly reduced." Ross asserted he was told to
resign or he would be fired. In May 2016, Cynthia sought a
contempt finding against Ross, alleging he had not paid any
spousal support. In a June 2016 order, the district court
declined to modify the spousal support, finding Ross failed
to show a substantial change in circumstances justifying a
reduction in the amount of spousal support awarded to
Cynthia. The court found no credible evidence Ross was forced
to quit his job with the Davenport Police Department and
insufficient evidence to support a finding his earning
capacity decreased since entry of the decree. The court also
found Ross in contempt.
January 2017, Ross again petitioned to modify his spousal
support. The petition alleged he was now employed as a police
officer in Centerville, and his income was "greatly
reduced." At the January 2018 hearing on his petition,
Ross testified he worked full time for the Centerville Police
Department, earning $24.92 per hour, from July 2016 until
February 2017. Ross testified he was dismissed after his
probationary period because methods he learned while a
Davenport officer did not translate to small-town policing.
In June 2017, Ross started working as a security officer for
Trinity Hospital twenty-four hours per week, earning $16.78
resisted Ross's request to modify spousal support. She
testified she continued working part-time at Target, earning
about $20, 000 per year, until May 2017 when she was
diagnosed with a brain tumor. Her neurologist confirmed she
was not able to continue working. She testified, without
alimony, she would not be able to support herself.
January 2018 ruling, the district court denied Ross's
modification request, holding "Ross did not prove by a
preponderance of the evidence that there was a substantial
change in circumstances." The court believed "Ross
could be doing more than he presented to obtain other
part-time employment or potentially full-time
motion to enlarge, Ross claimed even if the district court
were correct in finding he could work as a full-time police
officer, it should have found-based on his salary in
Centerville-"his income had decreased by 44% and reduced
his maintenance obligation to $660 per month." In
denying the motion, the district court found Ross "not
credible as it related to his employment or financial
situation." The court concluded, "Ross's
claimed employment issues are not new issues presented to the
Court, nor are they issues which were not within the