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In re Marriage of Nevins

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 1, 2019

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF KELSEY N. NEVINS AND MATTHEW J. NEVINS Upon the Petition of KELSEY N. NEVINS, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning MATTHEW J. NEVINS, Respondent-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Davis County, Myron L. Gookin, Judge.

         The husband appeals the physical-care, visitation, and child-support provisions of the parties' dissolution decree.

          Heather M. Simplot of Harrison, Moreland, Webber, Simplot & Maxwell, P.C., Ottumwa, for appellant.

          Andrew B. Howie of Shindler, Anderson, Goplerud & Weese, P.C., West Des Moines, for appellee.

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


         Matthew Nevins challenges the physical-care, visitation, child-support, and attorney-fees provisions of the decree dissolving his marriage to Kelsey Nevins. Matthew maintains the parties' children should have been placed in his physical care or, alternatively, he and Kelsey should share joint physical care. Additionally, he challenges the district court's determination of each party's income for the purposes of calculating child support and claims the court abused its discretion in ordering him to pay $2000 of Kelsey's attorney fees. On appeal, Kelsey asks that we affirm the district court's decree and award her an additional $16, 982.50 in appellate attorney fees.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         Kelsey and Matthew married in 2009. They are the parents of two minor children: E.N., born in February 2013 and M.N., born in January 2015.

         Matthew has worked as a welder for John Deere since 2008. He is routinely laid off for a period each year, though the duration of the lay-off varies. That, in conjunction with his inconstant profit-sharing bonus, causes Matthew's annual salary to fluctuate.

         Kelsey has worked a number of different jobs since the parties married. She was fired from some employment and quit others in anticipation of being fired. At the time of the dissolution trial in March and April 2018, Kelsey worked as a nurse for Ottumwa Regional Health Center-where she had worked since September 2015. In September 2016, shortly after she filed a petition for dissolution, Kelsey went on PRN, or "as needed," status at work. She testified she did so at her boss's suggestion because of her ongoing issues with absences and tardiness, which Kelsey attributed in part to issues with daycare for the children and the turmoil of the separation. The PRN status allows Kelsey more freedom in her schedule to care for the children and schedule various appointments, but Kelsey works significantly fewer hours and earns significantly less than she did working full-time before the parties separated.

         Kelsey filed a petition for dissolution in May 2016. The district court entered a temporary custody order a few months later, giving Kelsey physical care of the children. Matthew received scheduled parenting time every other weekend, overnight on Wednesdays until Thursday evening, and on specific holidays.

         The period of separation was contentious, with both parties playing a role in the ongoing conflict. Kelsey twice filed for protective orders, but no finding of domestic abuse was ever made. In the first action, the parties stipulated that Kelsey would retain the marital home and that Matthew would only contact or communicate with Kelsey regarding the minor children; Kelsey dismissed the chapter 236 (2016) action. In the second action, a temporary protective order was entered on October 14, 2016. The parties stipulated to a modification of the temporary order on May 12, 2017, which allowed Matthew to attend M.N.'s tee-ball games, of which Kelsey was the coach. No final protective order was entered before the temporary order expired.

         As part of the second protective order, Matthew was ordered to have a third party participate in exchanging the children for parenting time, with the exchanges occurring at the local law center. Yet when Matthew began to ask police officers to act as the third party to the exchanges, Kelsey complained. Both parties continued to otherwise involve the police in their lives, often making reports against the other for perceived wrongs. At trial, Kelsey admitted officers stopped filing reports for each instance either she or Matthew reported, testifying, "Only recently, like, in the last nine months I would say, did they stop making reports every single time. I ...

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