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In re Marriage Parlee

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 24, 2019

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF PAMELA LOUISE PARLEE AND JONATHAN DAVID PARLEE Upon the Petition of PAMELA LOUISE PARLEE, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning JONATHAN DAVID PARLEE, Respondent-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Jeanie K. Vaudt, Judge.

         Jonathan Parlee appeals the support and economic provisions of the decree dissolving his marriage to Pamela Parlee. AFFIRMED.

          Tyler Phelan and Eric Borseth of Borseth Law Office, Altoona, for appellant.

          Jaclyn M. Zimmerman of Miller, Zimmerman, & Evans, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellee.

          Considered by Mullins, P.J., Bower, J., and Vogel, S.J. [*]

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         Jonathan (Jon) Parlee appeals the economic and spousal support provisions of the decree dissolving his marriage to Pamela (Pam) Parlee. Jon asserts the district court miscalculated the parties' income, resulting in an inequitable spousal support award. He also objects to the court's valuations of property items, the property distribution, and the award of trial attorney fees. Finally, he requests an award of appellate attorney fees. Pam waived filing an appellate brief, relying on the trial court's findings and conclusions.[1]

         We find no reason to provide a detailed background of facts because the trial court has done so in its thirty-page decree. The court carefully considered the parties' positions and correctly applied the law. On our de novo review, we find no failure to do equity and therefore affirm.[2]

         Jon and Pam were married in 1982 and have two adult children. The court ordered Jon to pay Pam traditional alimony of $1321.49 per month, [3] finding Pam "should not be financially penalized for her unsuccessful attempt to preserve the marriage" by reducing her work schedule. On this issue, the trial court found:

In recent history Pam and Jon's work schedules were not parallel. [(Jon worked 2:00 to 10:00 p.m. on Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Pam worked 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday.)] Both parties testified that Pam had discussed decreasing her work hours with Jon and Jon agreed. Pam testified that she was concerned that the marriage was breaking apart. She hoped spending one day a week with Jon on his day off would be a chance for the parties to work on saving their relationship. Pam changed her work schedule from full-time to accommodate her expectations.
Spending more time together didn't work. Once Pam realized the marriage was over, she asked her employer to reinstate her to full-time. This wasn't possible because the fulltime position had already been filled. Pam sought supplemental employment. No other job would pay her anything close to the $19.06 she earns in her present capacity. This is the highest hourly compensation rate Pam has ever earned. She testified that she didn't want to lose her higher earning capacity simply to have full-time hours at lower pay somewhere else. She has been diligent but unsuccessful in finding supplemental employment because her availability is only Mondays and Tuesdays.
The district court awarded Pam spousal support based on:
(1) Pam's recent reduction in her work schedule at her highest earning capacity, which the court finds Jon knew about and was in agreement with; (2) Jon's consistently higher income during each year of the parties' long marriage; (3) Pam's lesser earning capacity and lesser level of education; and (4) the unlikely possibility that Pam can support herself at the standard of living she enjoyed during the marriage.

         Courts are instructed to equitably award spousal support by considering each of the statutory criteria of Iowa Code section 598.21A(1) (2018). See In re Marriage of Gust, 858 N.W.2d 402, 410-12 (Iowa 2015). The district court did so here, and we find no failure to do equity in the spousal support awarded. See Mauer, 874 N.W.2d at 106 ("[W]e will disturb a district court ...


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