KAREN K. PISTEK, Plaintiff-Appellant,
DALTON S. KARSJENS, Defendant-Appellee.
from the Iowa District Court for Monroe County, Lucy J.
Pistek appeals the district court order establishing
paternity, custody, visitation, and support of the child she
shares with Dalton Karsjens.
Cathleen J. Siebrecht of Siebrecht Law Firm, Des Moines, for
K. Lain of The Law Office of Jenna K. Lain, PLLC, Corydon,
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and Doyle,
Pistek and Dalton Karsjens are the parents of O.K.K., who was
born in 2016. In December 2016, Karen filed a petition to
establish paternity, custody, visitation, and support of
O.K.K. Following trial, the district court entered an order
establishing Dalton's paternity and granting him physical
care of O.K.K. On appeal, Karen contends the court abused its
discretion in denying her request for an additional day of
testimony. She asks us to grant her physical care of the
child or, in the alternative, to grant her additional
visitation. Finally, she contends the court erred in
calculating child support and reserving jurisdiction on the
issue of a post-secondary-education subsidy. We consider each
argument in turn.
first consider Karen's challenge to the district
court's denial of her request to add a third day of
testimony. Karen's attorney first made the request on the
afternoon of the second day of trial, but another case was
set to begin trial the following day. Her attorney then asked
if the court would consider scheduling a third day of
testimony at a later date, and the court ventured that a date
would not be available for "four or five months."
After Dalton's attorney objected to having a lengthy gap
between testimony, the court denied the request. After the
trial concluded, Karen filed a motion to reconsider her
request asserting she "had approximately 16 witnesses
that were not able to testify on her behalf due to time
constraints." The court denied the motion. We review the
district court's determination to place time limitations
on the hearing for an abuse of discretion. See In re
Marriage of Ihle, 577 N.W.2d 64, 67 (Iowa Ct. App. 1998)
("It is generally recognized that matters relating to
the course and conduct of a trial, not regulated by statute
or rule, are within the discretion of the trial
judge."); In re Marriage of Rebouche, 587
N.W.2d 795, 798 (Iowa Ct. App. 1998) ("[W]e afford trial
judges wide discretion over the course and conduct of a
trial, including such issues as the number of witnesses on a
certain point."). This discretion is necessary to allow
the trial court "to prevent an undue waste of time,
avoid needless presentation of cumulative evidence, and to
responsibly manage the stream of cases through the spectrum
of justice." Ihle, 577 N.W.2d at 67. We will
find an abuse of discretion only if the district court
exercises its discretion "on grounds or for reasons that
are clearly untenable or to an extent clearly
unreasonable." In re Marriage of Schenkelberg,
824 N.W.2d 481, 484 (Iowa 2012).
written ruling denying Karen's motion to reconsider, the
district court noted that the parties indicated the trial
should be set for two days when they filed the trial
scheduling and discovery plan in August 2017. In September
2017, the district court set the matter for a two-day trial.
Noting that the case involved the custody of one minor child,
the court observed: "Such cases are very rarely set for
more than two days in this district. Such cases are sometimes
set for three days upon the advance request of the parties.
No such request was made in this case." Rather, Karen
did not request an additional day of testimony until the
afternoon of the second day of trial. The court noted its
schedule did not allow for a third day of trial and that it
was likely a third day could not not be scheduled for several
months, given the court scheduling in the district. It also
noted that it did its best to equitably divide the time
available to the parties, who received the same amount of
time to present evidence at trial. Concluding that "[i]t
would not be in the best interest of the minor child to
continue the case to a later date for additional evidence or
testimony," the court denied the motion. We find no
abuse of discretion.
review custody determinations de novo. See Mason v.
Hall, 419 N.W.2d 367, 369 (Iowa 1988). Because the
district court had the opportunity to listen to and observe
the parties and witnesses, we give weight to its fact
findings, especially when considering witness credibility.
See McKee v. Dicus, 785 N.W.2d 733, 736 (Iowa Ct.
App. 2010). However, we are not bound by them. See
first and governing consideration is the best interests of
the child. See Iowa R. App. P. 6.904(3)(o). Our goal
is to place the child in the care of the parent who is best
able to minister to the child's long-term best interests.
See In re Marriage of Winter, 223 N.W.2d
165, 166 (Iowa 1974). In making this determination, we
consider the list of factors set forth in Iowa Code section
598.41 (2017), along with other relevant factors.
See Iowa Code § 600B.40(2) (directing the court
to apply the provisions of section 598.41 in determining
custody in paternity actions); In re Marriage of
Hansen, 733 N.W.2d 683, 696 (Iowa 2007).
The court, insofar as is reasonable and in the best interest
of the child, shall order the custody award . . . which will
assure the child the opportunity for the maximum continuing
physical and emotional contact with both parents . . ., and
which will encourage parents to share the rights and
responsibilities of raising the child unless direct physical
harm or ...