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In re Marriage of Melrose

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 6, 2019

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF MARK STEVEN MELROSE AND CAROLE LYNN MELROSE Upon the Petition of MARK STEVEN MELROSE, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning CAROLE LYNN MELROSE n/k/a CAROLE LYNN BROWMAN, Respondent-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Floyd County, Rustin T. Davenport, Judge.

         Carole Browman, formerly known as Carole Melrose, appeals from the spousal support provisions of the decree dissolving her marriage to Mark Melrose.

          Matthew J. Brandes and Rae M. Kinkead of Simmons Perrine Moyer Bergman, PLC, Cedar Rapids, for appellant.

          Steven P. Wandro and Kara M. Simons of Wandro & Associates, P.C., Des Moines, for appellee.

          Heard by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and Schumacher, JJ.

          DOYLE, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         Carole Browman, formerly known as Carole Melrose, appeals from the spousal support provisions of the decree dissolving her marriage to Mark Melrose. She argues the support awarded to her is inequitable and should be substantially increased. Upon our de novo review, we affirm the district court's decree as modified.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         Carole and Mark married in 1990 and have two adult children. In August 2017, Mark petitioned seeking dissolution of their marriage. The matter went to trial in May 2018. At that time, Mark was fifty-seven and Carole was sixty. Both parties ran their own businesses-Mark an insurance agency and Carole a hair salon-but Mark was the breadwinner. Issues in dispute were the valuation of Mark's business and whether Carole should receive spousal support. Each party presented expert testimony with differing opinions of Mark's business's value.

         In August 2018, the district court entered its decree dissolving the parties' marriage. The court found the reasonable valuation of Mark's business was $420, 000. The court also determined Mark's annual income was $135, 000. The court awarded Carole $1725 per month in spousal support. Both parties filed posttrial motions to amend the decree. Except for granting Carole's request to change her surname to Browman, the district court denied the parties' motions.

         Carole now appeals the dissolution decree's spousal support provisions.[1]Other background facts will be discussed as necessary below.

         II. Standard of Review.

         Because marriage-dissolution proceedings are equitable proceedings, our review is de novo. See Iowa Code § 598.3 (2017); In re Marriage of Mauer, 874 N.W.2d 103, 106 (Iowa 2016). In a de novo review, "we examine the entire record and decide anew the issues properly presented." In re Marriage of Rhinehart, 704 N.W.2d 677, 680 (Iowa 2005). Even so, we give weight to the fact findings of the district court, especially when considering the credibility of witnesses, though we are not bound by them. See Iowa R. App. P. 6.904(3)(g); In re Marriage of Briddle, 756 N.W.2d 35, 39 (Iowa 2008). Still, the district court is in "the best position to balance the parties' needs," In re Marriage of Gust, 858 N.W.2d 402, 416 (Iowa 2015), and that court has considerable latitude when making a spousal support award. See In re Marriage of Schenkelberg, 824 N.W.2d 481, 486 (Iowa 2012). On appellate review of a spousal support award, this court should only intervene if there has been a failure to do equity. See Gust, 858 N.W.2d at 416.

         III. ...


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