IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF DEORA LYNNE OLSEN AND JAMES ALFRED OLSEN Upon the Petition of DEORA LYNNE OLSEN, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning JAMES ALFRED OLSEN, Respondent-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Wapello County, Myron L.
Olsen appeals the district court's award of alimony to
Gardner of Denefe, Gardner & Zingg, P.C., Ottumwa, for
Cynthia D. Hucks of Box & Box Attorneys at Law, Ottumwa,
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and Tabor, JJ.
POTTERFIELD, PRESIDING JUDGE.
Olsen appeals the decree dissolving his marriage to Deora
Olsen, arguing the district court improperly calculated both
his and Deora's incomes and improperly awarded Deora
alimony of $300 per month for five years and then $250 per
month for another five years. Deora requests appellate
Background Facts & Proceedings.
and Deora married on November 29, 1993. The two have one
child, now an adult. Deora has one adult child from a
previous marriage. The parties separated in November 2016,
and the dissolution trial was held in June 2018. James and
Deora were married for approximately twenty-four years.
time of the dissolution, James was fifty-seven. James owns
and operates a tree trimming, maintenance, and removal
business known as "Aubrey's Tree Maintenance,"
which he has done since before he and Deora were married.
James has a problem with his right hip which causes him some
pain and difficulties, but it does not impede his ability to
work. At trial he described his health as "[f]airly
was fifty-six at the time of the dissolution. She has a GED
and is trained and licensed as a physical therapy assistant.
She has been employed as a physical therapy assistant for
around twenty-seven years with various companies. At her
current position, she works thirty to forty hours per week,
depending on patient demand. Thirty hours per week is
considered full-time. She earns twenty-seven dollars per
hour. She receives dental insurance through her employment
but does not receive health insurance. Deora also regularly
worked on-call at another healthcare provider from 2007 until
early 2018. She stopped working at the other healthcare
provider because the company "got into some trouble and
could not take any new patients." Deora also assisted
James with his business by doing the bookkeeping, including
preparing financial documents for tax preparation by their
accountant. The record does not contain detailed information
about Deora's health. The record does reflect that she
broke her foot in 2015 and could not work most of that year,
and that she has a condition called tumid lupus. No evidence
was presented of the impact of tumid lupus on Deora's
health or her ability to work, although she testified at
trial it was a condition that required health insurance to
district court filed its findings of fact, conclusions of
law, and decree of dissolution on August 16, 2018. In its
determination of spousal support, the court first concluded
it was necessary to take the average of the parties'
income from 2014-17 because both parties had variable income
over that period. The court determined Deora's average
four-year income was $38, 513 per year, based on her taxable
wages and $10, 816 in unemployment compensation she received
in 2015 due to her broken foot. The district court next
determined James's four-year average income to be $45,
161. The district court calculated this figure by taking the
average of his net income plus the depreciation he took on
his federal income taxes from 2014-17. The court concluded
the $45, 161 figure more accurately reflected James's
"minimum earnings capacity," rather than his actual
district court awarded Deora alimony, based on James's
larger income and the greater amount of debt Deora assumed in
the dissolution. The district court based the monthly
alimony amount partially on the mortgage payments for the
parties' home, which Deora received in the dissolution.
The balance on the mortgage at the time of the dissolution
was $8614, and the monthly service was $281.69. The court
determined it was "reasonable to provide an alimony
payment slightly in excess of the mortgage payment in the
first five years and an alimony payment slightly less than
the mortgage payment in the second five years" to
account for of the amount of short-term debt-like credit card
appeals the award of alimony.