IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF MISHA LEA CURTIS AND MARK WADE CURTIS Upon the Petition of MISHA LEA CURTIS, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning MARK WADE CURTIS, Respondent-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Adams County, John D. Lloyd,
Curtis appeals a decree of dissolution of marriage.
D. Fisher of Nidey Erdahl Fisher Pilkington & Meier, PLC,
Cedar Rapids, for appellant.
K. Maharry, Clive, and Jami J. Hagemeier of Williams &
Hagemeier, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellee.
Considered by Doyle, P.J., Mullins, J., and Vogel, S.J.
Curtis appeals the decree dissolving his marriage to Misha
Curtis. Mark challenges the spousal-support, child-support,
property-distribution, and visitation provisions of the
decree, as well as the court's award of trial attorney
fees in favor of Misha. Misha requests an award of appellate
Background Facts and Proceedings
deference to the district court's factual findings and
credibility determinations in our de novo review of this
equitable proceeding, we make the following factual findings.
The parties met in 2004 and married in 2005. The marriage
produced two children, I.C. and A.C., respectively born in
2006 and 2008. Misha has another child from a prior marriage,
E.A., born in 2001, who resided with the parties during the
has an associate's degree in information technology.
Misha has college degrees in animal science and nursing. Both
are in good health. Mark started his own heating-and-cooling
business in 2005; the parties are equal owners of the
business. The parties jointly purchased a hardware store in
2012. Prior to purchasing the hardware store, Misha worked as
a nurse. The parties mutually agreed Misha would cut back on
her hours working as a nurse and devote more of her time to
the hardware store. In 2013, a bakery was established in a
building attached to the hardware store, which is also
jointly owned by the parties. The parties are also the joint
owners of a limited liability company (LLC) which owns the
buildings in which the heating-and-cooling, hardware-store,
and bakery businesses are housed. The parties also purchased
two rental properties on contract.
the parties purchased the hardware store in 2012, they ran it
together. In 2013, an employee of the heating-and-cooling
business quit, and Mark focused his efforts on that business,
which resulted in Misha running the hardware store. Misha had
also run the bakery since its inception in 2013. This dynamic
continued until around October 2016, when the parties agreed
Mark would discontinue the heating-and-cooling business. At
this point, Mark decided he wanted to pursue employment as an
electrician. Mark was unable to find a local job, but he
found an electrician job in Minnesota, which included a
substantial increase in pay. Mark maintained this employment
until July 2017. During this period, Mark lived in Minnesota
and only visited the family on weekends. He then moved back
to Iowa and began working as an electrician for another
employer. Mark was terminated from this position in October.
Mark then began receiving unemployment. While receiving
unemployment, Mark began rebuilding the heating-and-cooling
time of trial, Misha was pursuing her master's degree in
nursing education and was twenty credits away from obtaining
the same. Misha continues to work as a nurse at Greater
Regional Medical Center, but only on an as-needed basis,
which is usually about once every six weeks. She earns $29.00
per hour and brings in between $4000 and $5000 per year from
nursing. Her primary employment is at the hardware store and
bakery. She makes about $1050 per month from those
businesses. Misha is also a nursing educator. She teaches
eight hours per week from January through May and earns
$29.50 per hour, which amounts to annual income of $4720.
Finally, Misha earns in the neighborhood of $3900 per year
working at a summer camp. Misha conceded in her testimony she
could earn significantly more money as a nurse if she did not
have to manage the businesses.
moved out of the marital home in September 2017. Shortly
thereafter, Misha petitioned for dissolution of the
parties' marriage. In December, Misha moved for a
temporary-matters hearing concerning temporary custody and
financial matters. The parties submitted
child-support-guidelines worksheets and affidavits of
financial status. Misha sought physical care while Mark
sought shared care. Misha identified her gross annual income
as $26, 000 and imputed income to Mark in the amount
of $70, 000. Mark identified Misha's gross annual income
as $32, 000 and his as $35, 516.
February 2018, the court entered a temporary order granting
the parties joint legal custody and awarding physical care to
Misha, subject to visitation for Mark every other weekend and
every Tuesday and Thursday evening from 4:00 to 8:00
The court ordered Mark to pay temporary child support in the
amount of $744.55.
was held over four days in May and June. The court entered
its findings of fact, conclusions of law, and order in
August. The court's distribution of assets and
liabilities amounted to net assets in the amount of
$333, 920 for Mark-which included all the business assets and
rental properties-and $7563 for Misha. The court ordered Mark
to pay Misha an equalization payment in the amount of $150,
000, shifting the net assets for Mark to $183, 920 and for
Misha to $157, 563. As part of its property distribution, the
court additionally ordered Mark to pay for $20, 000 of
Misha's attorney fees, further reducing his net assets
from the property distribution to $163, 920.
the "property division . . . effectively removed [Misha]
from the work force" and she was in the process of
obtaining her master's degree which would give her a
source of income from teaching, the court awarded Misha
rehabilitative spousal support for three years. The court
ordered Mark's monthly spousal-support obligation to be
$3000 for the first year, $2000 for the second year, and
$1000 for the third year.
court awarded Misha physical care of the children and
provided Mark with visitation every other weekend from Friday
afternoon through Sunday evening, three-and-one-half hours
one weeknight per week, alternating holidays, and two weeks
in the summer. As to child support, the parties agreed in
their amended child-support-guidelines worksheets that
Mark's gross annual income amounted to $70,
In calculating child support, the court adopted this figure
and added an additional $10, 000 in estimated income for the
hardware store business to reach a gross annual income for
Mark of $80, 000. Aside from her income from spousal support,
the court determined Misha's gross annual income to be
$5000. Based upon these figures, and considering the
reduction in Mark's spousal-support obligation after one
year, the court determined Mark's child support
obligation to be $621.24 as of August 2018 and $850.29 as of
October 2019. In light of the "many moving parts"
and the fact that Misha's income will undoubtedly
increase, the court directed the parties, beginning in 2020,
to exchange financial information.
court also revisited Mark's child-support obligation
under the temporary order. The court stated:
It appears without doubt that [Mark] failed to disclose his
unemployment income on his financial information provided to
the court for the temporary matters hearing. Inclusion of
that income with the income he was generating from his
heating and cooling business would have produced a
significantly higher child support award.
light of the court's determination, it recalculated
Mark's child-support obligation as to the six months the
temporary-matters order was in place, and entered judgment
against Mark and in favor of Misha in the amount of $2051.76,
the difference between what Mark was ordered to pay under the
temporary-matters order and what the court determined he
should have been paying.
court directed Misha's counsel to prepare a decree
incorporating its findings and submit it to Mark's
counsel for approval, after which it would be presented to
the court. The court ultimately entered its decree,
incorporating the foregoing. The decree was subsequently
amended as to matters generally irrelevant to this appeal in
response to the parties' post-trial motions to enlarge or
amend pursuant to Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.904(2). As
noted, Mark appeals.