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In re Marriage of Seay

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 1, 2019

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF DENA MARIE SEAY AND DEANGELO DELONN SEAY Upon the Petition of DENA MARIE NABORS, n/k/a DENA MARIE SEAY, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning DEANGELO DELONN SEAY, Respondent-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Lee (North) County, Mark E. Kruse, Judge.

         A father appeals the district court's modification of his summer visitation and denial of his request to modify child support.

          Curtis Dial of Law Office of Curtis Dial, Keokuk, for appellant.

          Marlis J. Robberts of Robberts & Kirkman LLLP, Burlington, for appellee.

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

          Bower, Judge.

         DeAngelo Seay appeals the district court's order modifying the dissolution decree dissolving his marriage to Dena Seay, claiming the court erred in changing his summer visitation and denying his request to reduce his child support obligation. We affirm the district court.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings.

         DeAngelo and Dena's marriage was dissolved on February 24, 2012, by stipulation. The parties were granted joint legal custody of their child D.S., born in 2005. The mother was awarded physical care of the child and the father was granted visitation, including alternating care of the child weekly during the summer. The parties agreed child support and medical support payments of $540 per month would be paid by the father. The parents now live approximately ninety minutes apart in different towns due to the father's move.

         While visiting the father's home in 2014, assaults were perpetrated on D.S. by an older half-sibling. The father unsuccessfully tried to address the problem without outside intervention and did not tell the mother. The mother found out in the summer of 2015 and reported the assaults to the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS), which investigated. The incidents resulted in criminal charges against the half-sibling, a founded child abuse report against the father, and a child in need of assistance (CINA) action in the juvenile court. Once DHS became involved, the father's visitation was initially reduced. The father complied with DHS's requirements, and visitation was gradually increased consistent with the court's original ruling. The summer visitation had not yet resumed at the time of trial. The CINA case closed on August 1, 2017.

         The child is described as bright, funny, smart, and athletic. The child participates in multiple traveling sports teams and has excellent grades in school. The child has participated in therapy since 2015, including some joint sessions with the father. The father admitted recording the joint therapy sessions with the child, claiming it was to protect himself from lies during the CINA action.

         On February 16, 2016, the mother filed a petition to modify the decree to order sole legal custody of the child with her, reduce visitation and require supervision, establish a no-contact order between D.S. and the assaulting half-sibling on the father's side, and require counseling for the father. The mother also requested a review of child support and requested orders for court costs and attorney fees. Just prior to trial, the father requested a reduction in his child-support obligation due to an income reduction attributable to a change in employment; he now works at a coffee shop owned by his wife's parents and operated by his wife.[1]

         A modification trial was held January 17, 2018, with a ruling filed on March 8. The court heard testimony from the mother, the father, the maternal grandmother, the child's therapist, and the father's wife. The court modified the decree by changing the summer visitation schedule from alternating full weeks to long weekends every other week and one full week, adding a requirement for an adult presence in the home at all times the child is there, granting the no-contact order with the half-sibling, denying the request to modify child support, and awarding the mother $3000 in attorney fees. Additional facts will be discussed where relevant.

         The father appeals both the reduction in summer visitation and the court's denial of his ...


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