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In re Marriage of Carter

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 7, 2019

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF JESSIE KATE CARTER AND JARED LeGRAND CARTER Upon the Petition of JESSIE KATE CARTER, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning JARED LeGRAND CARTER, Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Union County, Dustria A. Relph, Judge.

         Jessie Carter appeals the district court's decree dissolving her marriage to Jared Carter.

          David L. Jungmann of David L. Jungmann, P.C., Greenfield, for appellant.

          Jamie Hunter of Dickey & Campbell Law Firm, PLC, Des Moines, for appellee.

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

          MULLINS, JUDGE.

         Jessie Carter appeals the district court's decree dissolving her marriage to Jared Carter. Jessie challenges the district court's: (1) award of shared physical care of their two children, (2) child-support award relating to the allocation of the children's expenses, (3) denial of her request for spousal support, and (4) award of attorney fees. Both parties request an award of appellate attorney fees.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Jessie and Jared were married in February 2009. They are the parents of two children, R.S.C. and A.M.C., born in 2008. Jessie has another child from a prior marriage, P.M.M., born in 2004. P.M.M. resided with the parties and had a close relationship with Jared during the marriage. Jessie and Jared separated for six months in 2013 but reconciled. After the separation, Jared opened a separate bank account. Each month, Jessie paid the monthly bills and Jared would give her a check for half of the amount.

         Jessie is a self-employed cosmetologist and runs a salon from home. Her gross income is approximately $27, 000.00 per year. Her schedule fluctuates throughout the week and she can change appointments in order to accommodate the children and their activities. Jared is a general manager for an industrial supply company. This position pays a base salary in addition to commissions, which fluctuates. Jared maintains health insurance for the children through his job. Jared also coaches at the local high school, which provides a small salary. His average gross income is approximately $78, 000.00 per year. Jared also coaches R.S.C.'s youth football team.

         Jessie and Jared separated in July 2017. Jared moved into his own home a short distance away from the marital home. In the year prior to trial, Jared had parenting time with the children, which included overnights, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. On weekdays, Jared would deliver the children to Jessie the next morning so she could take them to school. During the times Jared's parenting time coincided with his coaching duties, the children would stay with their paternal great-grandparents. During Jessie's parenting time, which coincided with her cosmetology appointments, the children either stayed in the house and P.M.M. provided some supervision or the maternal grandparents watched the children. During basketball season, Jessie and Jared modified the parenting-time arrangement to accommodate Jared's coaching schedule.

         After the parties' separation, Jared did not provide financial support to Jessie except for a portion of the children's expenses. Jessie filed for dissolution in January 2018. She did not apply for temporary support. Jared told Jessie to inform him if she needed anything, but she did not directly ask Jared for financial support and incurred additional credit card debt.

         At trial, both parties requested joint legal custody. Jessie requested physical care of the children based on Jared's schedule while Jared requested shared physical care. Jessie also requested child and spousal support and attorney fees. Following a one-day trial in August, the district court entered its decree. It awarded the parties joint legal custody and shared physical care of the children. The district court ordered Jared to pay $542.72 to Jessie in monthly child support and directed that both parties would equally share the children's educational and extracurricular expenses. The district court ordered no spousal support to either party and ordered Jared to pay $5000.00 toward Jessie's attorney fees at a rate of $100.00 per month.

         Jessie filed a motion to reconsider, enlarge, or amend under Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.904(2), in which she asked the district court to modify the dissolution decree with respect to the awards of physical care, spousal support, child support, and attorney fees. Following a hearing, the district court did grant Jessie's motion as to child support, modifying its child-support award to $596.84 in monthly support, retroactive to September 1. The district court denied Jessie's requests to modify physical care, spousal support, and attorney fees, but did provide a more thorough explanation for its award of shared physical care based on the factors contained in Iowa Code section 598.41(3) (2018) and In re Marriage of Winter, 223 N.W.2d 165, 166-67 (Iowa 1974). All other portions of the decree remained undisturbed and in full force and effect. Jessie appeals.

         II. ...


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