IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF ANDREA KAY MANN AND STEVEN ROBERT MANN Upon the Petition of ANDREA KAY MANN, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning STEVEN ROBERT MANN, Respondent-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Dickinson County, Carl J.
Mann appeals several provisions of the decree dissolving his
marriage to Andrea Mann.
Matthew G. Sease of Sease & Wadding, Des Moines, for
L. Fitzgibbons of Fitzgibbons Law Firm, L.L.C., Estherville,
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and May, JJ.
VAITHESWARAN, PRESIDING JUDGE.
and Andrea Mann married in 2002 and divorced in 2017. The
district court denied Steven's request for spousal
support and assigned a higher value to his guns and accounts
receivable than he requested. On appeal, Steven asks us to
revisit both issues.
requested spousal support based on the disparity in his
income relative to Andrea's. The district court denied
the request, reasoning as follows:
This is a marriage of 16 years. Steven was married
previously. The parties entered the marriage with modest
means and now leave the marriage with reasonable assets.
Steven['s] employment circumstances have not changed over
the period of the marriage. Andrea has improved her earning
capacity through her own determination. Steven did not
sacrifice for Andrea to improve her earning capacity.
Traditional alimony would not be appropriate based upon the
length of the marriage and the earning capacity of both
parties. Rehabilitative alimony is not appropriate based upon
the parties' current employment circumstances. Finally,
Steven is not entitled to reimbursement alimony. The record
before the Court does not demonstrate that Steven is in need
of alimony. Based upon the entire record, the property
distribution above and the factors set forth above, the Court
concludes alimony shall not be awarded to either party.
appeal, Steven argues the following factors justified an
award of traditional alimony: (A) the length of his marriage,
(B) the disparity between his earnings and Andrea's, (C)
the fact that most of the couple's assets were
accumulated during the marriage, (D) a claimed inequitable
property distribution (E) his limited education, (F) the age
difference between the parties, and (G) what he characterizes
as Andrea's reasonable ability to pay spousal support.
See Iowa Code § 598.21A(1) (2017) (setting
forth the factors for consideration in award of spousal
support). Based on these factors, he seeks (H) modification
of the dissolution decree to grant him spousal support
"from anywhere between $2395 per month to $3329 per
month." He does not specify a duration.
a district court has "considerable latitude" in
making an award of spousal support, we will modify the award
if "it fails to do equity between the parties."
In re Marriage of Schenkelberg, 824 N.W2d 481, 486
(Iowa 2012). Our review is de novo. In re Marriage of
Anliker, 694 N.W.2d 535, 540 (Iowa 2005).
"[D]uration of the marriage is an important factor for
an award of traditional spousal support." In re
Marriage of Gust, 858 N.W.2d 402, 410 (Iowa 2015).
"[M]arriages lasting twenty or more years commonly cross
the durational threshold and merit serious consideration for
traditional spousal support." Id. at 410-11.
But the supreme court has approved an award of traditional
spousal support in a marriage lasting sixteen years.
Schenkelberg, 824 N.W.2d at 486- 87.
agree with Steven that the length of the marriage did not
preclude an award of traditional spousal support. We turn to
the other factors he raises.
"The comparative income of the spouses is another factor
for the court to consider when evaluating an award of spousal
support." Id. at 486. "Where there is a
substantial disparity, . . . [w]e have . . . approved spousal
support where it amounts to approximately thirty-one percent
of the difference in annual income between spouses."
Gust, 858 N.W.2d at 411-12.
and Andrea's earnings differential was significant.
Andrea acknowledged as much in confirming the accuracy of
figures included in a summary prepared by Steven. Those
annual earnings figures for the four years preceding the
dissolution trial were as follows:
Andrea testified Steven could earn more if he consistently
billed his customers, she agreed she handled the bookkeeping
for the business until 2017 and there was no issue with
billing until then. Notably, Andrea's annual salary would
far outstrip Steven's even if we accepted her testimony
that he could earn as much as $5000 per month.
district court found Andrea's annual income was $118, 000
and Steven had an earning capacity of $36, 000. Joint tax
returns support these figures. We conclude the disparity in
earnings justified an award of spousal support.
D. "All property of the marriage that exists at
the time of the divorce, other than gifts and inheritances to
one spouse, is divisible property." In re Marriage
of Sullins, 715 N.W.2d 242, 247 (Iowa 2006).
"Property division and alimony should be considered
together in evaluating their individual sufficiency."
In re Marriage of Trickey, 589 N.W.2d 753, 756 (Iowa
Ct. App. 1998). "Alimony may . . . be awarded to a
spouse in addition to the distribution of property."
In re Marriage of Hansen, 733 N.W.2d 683, 702 (Iowa
argues the parties accumulated most of their assets during
the marriage and "obtained a certain style of living
that [he] will have no opportunity to recapture." He
also contends, "A majority of the assets awarded to
[him] are non-liquid and are nonrevenue generating" and
"the assets which are liquid are mostly retirement
accounts which cannot be truly liquidated without severe tax
penalties." Finally, he notes that he "was also
left with all of the parties' marital debt obligations,
totaling $57, 000." In his view, these property-related
factors support an award of spousal support.
couple appeared to live a comfortable but not extravagant
lifestyle. Although many of the assets allocated to Steven
were non-liquid, they were business-related assets that
assisted him in generating revenue. In addition, Steven
received a non-retirement stock fund with a value of $53,
503.05. As for the debt allocation, most if not all the debts
were accumulated by Steven in connection with his business or
following the couple's separation. See id. at
703. Specifically, the parties testified to the following
purposes for each debt assigned to Steven:
$14, 934 Steve's 2014 Chevrolet Silverado
$6500 Steve's 2004 Chevrolet pickup
$3726 Steve's business credit ...