IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF JAMES MATHIAS HANSEN AND BRANDY SUE HANSEN Upon the Petition of JAMES MATHIAS HANSEN, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning BRANDY SUE HANSEN, Respondent-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Jackson County, John D.
Hansen appeals from the decree dissolving her marriage.
R. McCarthy of Clemens, Walters, Conlon, Runde & Hiatt,
L.L.P., Dubuque, for appellant.
A. Splinter of Splinter Law Office, Dubuque, for appellee.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and May, JJ.
Hansen appeals from the decree dissolving her marriage to
James Hansen. She argues the district court erred in granting
James physical care of two children and child support. We
parties' relationship began in 2004. Soon after, Brandy
gave birth to a child, referred to here as the "oldest
child." In 2010, James and Brandy married. James adopted
the oldest child. James and Brandy had two more children,
referred to here as the "younger children."
2014, the parties' relationship was deteriorating. It was
marred by substance abuse and domestic violence. By 2016, the
Iowa Department of Human Services was involved.
2016, James commenced this dissolution action. Although the
parties agreed they should be awarded joint legal custody of
the children, neither party suggested joint physical care was
appropriate. Instead, each party asked for physical care.
a two-day trial, the district court entered a decree
dissolving the marriage. The court granted physical care of
the oldest child to Brandy, physical care of the younger
children to James, and child support to James. Brandy
review dissolution proceedings de novo. In re Marriage of
McDermott, 827 N.W.2d 671, 676 (Iowa 2013). Even so, we
afford deference to the district court. Hensch v.
Mysak, 902 N.W.2d 822, 824 (Iowa Ct. App. 2017).
"[W]e will affirm . . . unless the district court failed
to do substantial equity." Id.; see also In
re P.C., No. 16-0893, 2016 WL 4379580, at *2 (Iowa Ct.
App. Aug. 17, 2016) (identifying "reasons to exercise
'de novo review with deference,' including: notions
of judicial comity and respect; recognition of the appellate
court's limited function of maintaining the uniformity of
legal doctrine; recognition of the district court's more
intimate knowledge of and familiarity with the parties, the
lawyers, and the facts of a case; and recognition there are
often undercurrents in a case-not of record and available for
appellate review-the district court does and should take into
account when making a decision").
argues the district court erred in granting James physical
care of the younger children. When deciding physical care,
"[t]he children's best interest is the
'controlling consideration.'" In re Marriage
of Hoffman, 867 N.W.2d 26, 32 (Iowa 2015) (quoting
In re Marriage of Leyda, 355 N.W.2d 862, 865 (Iowa
1984)). This standard requires us to examine each
family's unique circumstances on a case-by-case basis.
Id. We consider which parent would support the
other's relationship with the children as well as
continuity, stability, and approximation. In re Marriage
of Hansen, 733 N.W.2d 683, 700 (Iowa 2007). We also
consider additional factors relating to the children's
safety and other needs. See Iowa Code §
598.41(3) (2016); In re Marriage of Winter, 223
N.W.2d 165, 166-67 (Iowa 1974).
often the case, our determination of physical care depends
heavily on testimony and-therefore-witness credibility.
See In re Marriage of Vrban, 359 N.W.2d ...