IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF JAMIE L. CHRISTY AND MATTHEW CHRISTY Upon the Petition of JAMIE L. CHRISTY, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning MATTHEW CHRISTY, Respondent-Appellee.
from the Iowa District Court for Warren County, Bradley
mother appeals the order modifying the physical-care
provisions of a dissolution decree and finding her in
Eslick of Eslick Law (until withdrawal), Indianola, for
Leigh Plambeck, f.k.a. Jamie Leigh Christy, Indianola, self
J. Ellis, Nicholas A. Carda, and Tracy A. Eaton of Ellis Law
Offices, P.C., Indianola, for appellee.
Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and May, JJ.
Plambeck appeals the district court order modifying
the physical-care award in the decree dissolving her marriage
to Matthew Christy. She also contends the district court
wrongly found her in contempt for denying Matthew's
spring break visitation with their daughter P.L.C., for
refusing to allow Matthew telephone contact with P.L.C. for
two weeks, and for failing to communicate regarding the
child's preschool enrollment. After reviewing the record,
we find Matthew failed to prove a substantial change in
circumstances since the court entered the decree in June
2015. Therefore, we reverse the modification of physical
care. But on two of the three contempt counts, we agree with
the district court's finding of proof beyond a reasonable
doubt that Jamie violated the terms of the original decree.
Thus, we leave two of the three contempt findings in place.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
and Matthew married in December 2011. In 2012, Jamie gave
birth to their daughter, P.L.C. In May 2014, Jamie filed for
divorce. The district court entered a decree dissolving their
marriage in June 2015. That decree awarded Jamie physical
care of P.L.C. with visitation to Matthew. At that time,
Jamie lived with P.L.C. in Indianola. Jamie worked in the
health care field as a certified nurse's assistant.
Matthew served in the Marines for fifteen years and was a
recruiter in Iowa. At the time of the decree he "spent
most of [his] time in California." He eventually retired
from the Marines and moved to Florida. After leaving the
Marines, Matthew pursued a degree in business management at
the University of South Florida.
divorce decree provided Matthew with these visitation times:
(1) one week during P.L.C.'s spring break from school or
other relevant time and (2) two twenty-one day periods during
the summer months or P.L.C.'s "summer break"
from school. Between those three-week periods, Jamie was
allowed a minimum of one three-day visit. The decree also
ordered Matthew to pay all transportation costs associated
with exercising his visitation. But both Matthew and Jamie
were to take measures to ease the costs of traveling. Each
party was to provide the other with notice of the exchanges
thirty days in advance. Under the decree, if a party did not
provide proper notice, he or she, would be "completely
responsible for the exchange."
decree also provided the parties with "the rights to
have legal access to information pertaining to P.L.C.
including, but not limited to medical, educational and law
enforcements records." In addition, both parties had
equal right to participate in decisions affecting
P.L.C.'s legal status, medical care, education,
extracurricular activities, and religious training.
August 2016, Jamie moved from Indianola to Nebraska with her
paramour Josh. Then in January 2017, Jamie moved from
Nebraska to Laurens, Iowa, taking P.L.C. out of preschool for
about three months. Jamie re-enrolled P.L.C. in daycare in
April 2017, the parties sparred over Matthew's spring
break visitation. Matthew flew from Florida to Iowa, but did
not end up having visitation with P.L.C. because Jamie did
not agree to the timing of Matthew's visit. Jamie
testified she was tired of accommodating Matthew's
schedule. She recalled a time in 2016 when Matthew asked her
to drive five and half hours from O'Neill, Nebraska, to
Des Moines to drop off P.L.C. for her visit. Jamie objected,
and Matthew eventually switched his flight to the Omaha
airport. But Jamie still drove three and one-half hours to
meet with Matthew. Jamie pointed out the decree specified
visitation would be during P.L.C's spring break. She also
believed the decree placed responsibility on Matthew to bear
the cost of transportation for P.L.C during her visits.
month after the spring break conflict, Jamie emailed Matthew
that there was "no need" to call her phone to talk
to P.L.C. for two weeks because "she will not be with me
while I have the new baby." P.L.C. was staying with her
maternal grandparents while Jamie gave birth to her half
sibling. Matthew was unsuccessful in contacting P.L.C.
through her grandparents.
by those incidents, in May 2017, Matthew petitioned for
modification of the decree, as well as applying for a rule to
show cause why Jamie should not be held in contempt. In late
2017 and again in early 2018, ...