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In re Marriage of Ayala

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 1, 2019

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF BRYANT WILLIAM AYALA AND LAURA WALKER AYALA Upon the Petition of BRYANT WILLIAM AYALA, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning LAURA WALKER AYALA, Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, William P. Kelly, Judge.

         Bryant Ayala appeals the property division provisions in the dissolution of marriage decree.

          Andrew B. Howie and James R. Hinchliff of Shindler, Anderson, Goplerud & Weese, PC, West Des Moines, for appellant.

          Ryan D. Babich of Babich Goldman, PC, Des Moines, for appellee.

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

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         Bryant Ayala appeals the property division provisions in the district court's decree dissolving his marriage with Laura Ayala. He claims the court should have set aside additional amounts to him as premarital assets and erred in its valuation of some property. We affirm the court's decree.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         Bryant and Laura were married on July 9, 2001. They had three children together in 2003, 2006, and 2007. The parties purchased their marital home in Bondurant in 2000.

         Laura is forty-seven years old. Laura had her college degree prior to the marriage and earned a master's degree in 2011. Laura was a teacher when the parties married. In 2008, Laura resigned and began running an in-home daycare business from the marital home. Laura returned to teaching in 2014, and in 2017 moved to Oskaloosa as a science teacher. She has a salary of approximately $47, 000 per year.

         Bryant is forty-seven years old. Bryant has a high school education. Since 2004, Bryant has worked out of the marital home as the manager of an apartment building rental business and a car rotisserie business. The parties added a shop building to the marital property for Bryant's businesses. The apartment business is discussed below in further detail. The car rotisserie business involved Bryant making and selling car rotisseries used in the restoration of old cars. The rotisserie business had been decreasing in profitability since 2009. He estimated he should earn around $25, 000 per year at his rotisserie business, working approximately twenty hours per week.

         The parties are joint owners of three S-corporations, each of which holds a multi-unit rental property in the Des Moines area. Two of the properties are mortgaged, with Laura's father acting as mortgagor. Bryant performs maintenance and upkeep for the properties and is the primary contact for the tenants, working approximately twenty hours per week. Each corporation has a separate checking account. Twice a year Bryant makes disbursements from the business accounts into a joint account from which Bryant pays himself. The rental properties' income was taxed half to each Bryant and Laura during the marriage, but Bryant considered the profits his. Bryant averages $36, 000 to $38, 000 per year in profit, though the tax exhibits show net profits over $40, 000 for multiple years.

         On May 12, 2016, Bryant filed a petition for dissolution of marriage. In July, the court issued an order to preserve assets. In October, the parties entered a mediated temporary joint stipulation which required Bryant pay $900 per month for child support. Between June and August of 2017, Bryant withdrew approximately $18, 000 from the joint checking account subject to the preservation order. In July Laura moved to Oskaloosa, taking furniture from the marital home. A trial was held on August 8, 2017.

         The court entered its decree on October 19, 2017. Laura was granted sole legal custody and physical care of the three children, with Bryant paying child support. Bryant was awarded all three S-corp. rental properties and the marital home. Both parties were found to have violated the preservation of assets order. The court ordered Bryant pay an equalization payment to Laura of $343, 606.63, ...


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