IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF JOSHUA RYAN STICE AND CHRISTINA INEZ STICE Upon the Petition of JOSHUA RYAN STICE, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning CHRISTINA INEZ STICE n/k/a CHRISTINA INEZ ADAMS, Respondent-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Thomas P.
mother appeals the modification of physical care provisions
of a decree of dissolution.
Patrick W. O'Bryan of O'Bryan Law Firm, Des Moines,
W. Otto of Otto Law Office, PLLC, Newton, for appellee.
Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.
Adams and Joshua Stice are the parents of G.S. The decree
dissolving their marriage granted them joint legal custody
and placed physical care with Christina. Four years later,
Joshua sought modification, and the district court placed
physical care of seven-year-old G.S. with him. Christina
appeals. Because Joshua demonstrated Christina's failure
to support his relationship with G.S. required a change in
the care arrangement, we affirm.
Facts and Prior Proceedings.
and Joshua were married in 2010, had G.S. in 2011, and
divorced in 2013. After the divorce, Joshua met and married
Ashland; they have an infant daughter, and Ashland has
another daughter close to G.S.'s age. They live together
in the Des Moines area. Christina moved to Missouri and then
to Keokuk. In addition to G.S., Christina's household
includes her two older school-aged daughters from another
relationship; her fiancé, Jason; and his
eighteen-year-old son. By all accounts, G.S. gets along well
with all her half- and step-siblings.
after the divorce, Christina began violating the terms of the
decree- including denying Joshua parenting time and failing
to communicate effectively with him about G.S. For instance,
for several years, Joshua and Christina agreed to perform
custody exchanges in Batavia, Iowa, about ninety minutes from
both their homes. On many occasions, Christina canceled
visitation immediately before the exchange when Joshua was
already in Batavia or on his way. Three times, Christina did
not show up for the exchange. On several Fridays, when Joshua
planned to pick up G.S., Christina told him G.S. was too sick
for his weekend visitation, that the day care called, and
G.S. needed to go to the doctor. But when Joshua obtained the
medical records, G.S. had not been to the doctor on those
days. Christina also failed to tell Joshua the daycare was
closed on Fridays.
occasionally requested flexibility in the visitation schedule
to accommodate his duties as an Army reservist. But Christina
generally refused to compromise. Even when Joshua offered to
drive all the way to Keokuk to pick up G.S., Christina often
declined. Christina testified she has a busy work schedule
and some family medical emergencies prevented Joshua from
receiving all his visitation. But she also admitted many
times she did not tell him the true reason for cancelling.
hearing, Joshua complained about Christina's lack of
communication; phone calls and texts often went unanswered.
Once, Christina did not communicate with Joshua about G.S.
for three weeks, during which she denied all his scheduled
visitation. In summer 2017, Christina did not let Joshua see
G.S. for seven weeks. She also refused Joshua phone contact
during that time.
failure to communicate extended to G.S.'s health care.
Christina did not provide Joshua notice of medical
appointments or share paperwork with him following those
appointments. Christina did not document Joshua as a parent
in G.S.'s medical records or report insurance information
accurately so Joshua ended up bearing additional medical
expenses. For four or five months in 2017, Christina told
Joshua G.S. was seeing a counselor and the department of
human services was involved. Christina admitted at trial
neither assertion was true.
issues were no better. Just three weeks before the
modification hearing, Joshua learned Christina had enrolled
G.S. in a new school ...