from the Iowa District Court for O'Brien County, Charles
Borth, District Judge.
father appeals a decree establishing paternity, custody,
visitation, and child support.
Matthew G. Sease of Kemp & Sease, Des Moines, for
L. Winterfeld of Winterfeld Law, P.L.C., Sioux Center, for
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and May, JJ.
VAITHESWARAN, PRESIDING JUDGE.
Granstra and Shea Driesen are the unmarried parents of a
child, born in 2017. Following trial on Granstra's
petition to establish paternity, custody, and visitation, the
district court granted Driesen physical care of the child.
The court reasoned:
[Driesen] has been the primary caretaker for [the child] her
entire life. She has also been the primary caretaker of her
older son . . . . [The child] and [the older half-sibling]
are only separated in age by approximately four years. They
have a strong bond with each other. The record establishes
that under [Driesen's] care, these children are both
well-adjusted and appropriately developed children. The
successful caregiving by one parent in the past is a strong
predictor that future care of the child will be of the same
quality. While [Driesen] had some instances of poor judgment
following her separation from [Granstra], she seems to have
again stabilized after a short bout with immaturity. Even
during her issues, she never did anything which would put
either of the children in danger. Along with [Granstra], the
court is concerned about [Driesen's] living arrangement
due to the fact that the home in which she is residing has
been foreclosed upon. No execution has yet been filed,
however, nor has any sheriff's sale been scheduled.
[Driesen's boyfriend] testified that he is actively
seeking new employment and working to obtain mortgage
assistance in order to remain in the home. In the unfortunate
event they must find alternative living arrangements, nothing
in the record indicates they would absolutely be unable to do
so. In the meantime, this is the home that [the child] has
known for the past several months. As shown by photographic
evidence in the record, the home is well-maintained.
appeal, Granstra contends the court should have granted him
physical care of the child. In his view, (A) he "offers
more stability than [Driesen]"; (B) he "will better
promote a healthy relationship between [Driesen] and all
family members"; (C) "Driesen does not make
decisions based upon the best interests of [the child]";
(D) "[Driesen's] relationship with [her boyfriend]
was not given appropriate weight"; and (E) the
"court gave too much weight to [the child's]
relationship with" her older half-sibling. Driesen seeks
appellate attorney fees.
analysis of who should have physical care is the same whether
the parents are married or unmarried. Lambert v.
Everist, 418 N.W.2d 40, 42 (Iowa 1988). Specifically, we
apply the factors set forth in our chapter on dissolutions of
marriage. Id.; see Iowa Code §§
598.41(3), 600B.40(2) (2018). Our review is de novo. See
McKee v. Dicus, 785 N.W.2d 733, 736 (Iowa Ct. App.
argues the court "gave undue weight [to Driesen's]
purported history as primary caregiver" and did not
consider that he "provides more stability."
See Iowa Code § 598.41(3)(a) (considering
"[w]hether each parent would be a suitable custodian for
the child"), (d) (considering "[w]hether both
parents have actively cared for the child before and since
the separation"). He points to his ownership of a home
in which the child was born, his steady employment, and the
availability of extended family support "within the
area." He asserts Driesen, in contrast, was at imminent
risk of losing the home she shared with her boyfriend, had
"several jobs," and moved constantly.
did indeed have more stable housing than Driesen. He
purchased an acreage with a five-bedroom home while he was
involved with Driesen, and he remained in the home after his
breakup with her. Driesen, on the other hand, lived with a
new boyfriend whose home was the subject of a foreclosure
decree. However, the house had yet to be sold at a
sheriff's sale and Driesen remained on the property at
the time of trial. Driesen's boyfriend ...