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In re Marriage of Brincks

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 7, 2019

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF WILLIAM J. BRINCKS AND VICTORIA HEYING-BRINCKS Upon the Petition of WILLIAM J. BRINCKS, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning VICTORIA HEYING-BRINCKS, Respondent-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Chickasaw County, Richard D. Stochl, Judge.

         Victoria Brincks appeals the district court's order dissolving her marriage to William Brincks.

          William P. Baresel of Prichard Law Office, PC, Charles City, for appellant.

          Christopher F. O'Donohoe of Elwood, O'Donohoe, Braun & White, LLP, New Hampton, for appellee.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.

          DOYLE, JUDGE.

         Victoria Brincks appeals the district court's order dissolving her marriage to William Brincks. Upon our review, we affirm the order in part and reverse the order in part, and we remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         After almost thirteen years of marriage to Victoria, William Brincks petitioned to dissolve the marriage. While the case was pending, William moved to continue, stating "the parties have agreed to file a joint petition for relief in bankruptcy and trial of this matter should not be held until they have received their discharge." The motion was granted and trial was ultimately set for June 13, 2018.

         The parties filed a pretrial stipulation identifying all matters on which they had agreed. The parties did not agree to an allocation of marital debts and asked that the court distribute the debts, explaining:

The parties have abandoned their house and have stopped making payments required by their mortgage. They anticipate a foreclosure action. William is attempting to convey his interest to the mortgage holder by Quit Claim Deed. Victoria has not expressed any interest in doing so. The parties borrowed $11, 000.00 from Victoria's parents to put in a new furnace. William has discharged this debt in bankruptcy and he offered the opportunity to Victoria to file a joint bankruptcy petition with him but she refused to do so.

         Six joint debts totaling $20, 971.14 were set out in the stipulation. The parties also filed a pretrial partial settlement stipulation. In it they agreed William "discharged the judgment debts and the debt to [Victoria's] parents in bankruptcy."

         At trial Victoria testified she did not join in filing bankruptcy with William because most of the marital debts had been paid-several by garnishment of her wages. She submitted an exhibit listing bills she had paid that she claimed were marital debts, and she requested "total reimbursement" from William of $21, 004.14.[1] Some debts had been paid off and some still had balances due. Victoria's testimony was a bit vague on this point. Other than Victoria's brief testimony and her exhibit, she offered no evidence verifying the existence of the debts. Except for the debt to her parents, there was no evidence on the original amount of the debts. Although Victoria paid off some bills, she was not sure how much William had paid towards the original debts.

         William testified he made payments on the eldest daughter's medical bills and paid some on another bill. His testimony on this point was as vague as Victoria's. William testified he filed for bankruptcy and offered to pay for Victoria to do so, but she declined. He offered no testimony or evidence showing when he petitioned for bankruptcy, when the discharge was granted, or what debts were discharged. Though William stated in the pretrial stipulation that the parties' marital debt owed to Victoria's parents was discharged in bankruptcy, he offered no ...


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