Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Marriage of Brockman

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 18, 2019

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF JESSALYN C. BROCKMAN AND MATTHEW C. BROCKMAN Upon the Petition of JESSALYN C. BROCKMAN, Petitioner-Appellant, and Concerning MATTHEW C. BROCKMAN, Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Page County, Timothy O'Grady, Judge.

         Jessalyn Brockman appeals the child custody provisions of the decree dissolving her marriage to Matthew Brockman.

          Jay W. Mez (until withdrawal) and William C. Bracker, Council Bluffs, for appellant.

          Andrew B. Howie of Shindler, Anderson, Goplerud & Weese, P.C., West Des Moines, for appellee.

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

          DOYLE, Presiding Judge.

         Jessalyn (Jess) Brockman appeals the child custody provisions of the decree dissolving her marriage to Matthew (Matt) Brockman. She contends the court erred in granting Matt physical care of their child. She instead asks for joint physical care or, in the alternative, for the child's placement in her physical care. We review this claim de novo with an eye to the child's best interests. See In re Marriage of Murphy, 592 N.W.2d 681, 683 (Iowa 1999).

         If the court grants joint legal custody of a child, the court may award joint physical care if either parent requests it. See Iowa Code § 598.41(5)(a) (2017). "If the court denies the request for joint physical care, the determination shall be accompanied by specific findings of fact and conclusions of law that the awarding of joint physical care is not in the best interest of the child." Id. The court must consider the factors listed in Iowa Code section 598.41(3) in determining what custody arrangement is in the child's best interests.

         The district court noted that both parents are suitable custodians, love the child, and want what is best for him. It noted that although each parent had contributed to raising the child in different ways, each had made a substantial contribution. The court found the child's "emotional and social development will be fostered by maximizing contact with both parents" and that both would do their best to attend to the child's best interests. But the court noted that joint physical care was not practical or in the child's best interests, noting:

Despite their commendable cooperation, Jess and Matt cannot agree on which school [the child] should attend. They have not agreed on where [the child] should live. Jess and Matt plan to live more than eighty miles decide what school [the child] should attend. Neither party was willing to compromise on these issues.

         After weighing the merits of each parent, the court determined that it is in the child's best interests to grant Matt physical care.

         Jess moved the court to reconsider, enlarge, or amend its ruling. She stated, "If the court will award the parties joint physical care, Jess plans to move back to Clarinda, keep the child in the Clarinda School System and commute to her job in Omaha." The court overruled this request, noting that the distance between the parties' residences was a factor in deciding physical care, but "it was not the sole factor or even the most important factor." Instead, the court found the most significant factors to be Matt's suitability as a caretaker and his role in providing a significant portion of the child's care in recent years. It also cited Matt's involvement with the child's school and activities, his willingness to support the child's relationship with Jess when compared to Jess's willingness to support the child's relationship with Matt, and Matt's willingness to support the child's relationship with extended family. Finally, the court found "Matt's candor in his testimony" to be a factor in granting him physical care. It concluded by stating that after revisiting the evidence, it again concluded the child's best interests are served by placing the child in Matt's physical care.

         We give weight to the trial court's findings. Murphy, 592 N.W.2d at 683. That is because, although our review is de novo, we do not "decide the case in a vacuum, or approach it as though the trial court had never been involved." See Albert v. Conger, 886 N.W.2d 877, 880 (Iowa Ct. App. 2016).

Unlike this court, the trial court has a front row seat to observe the witness's facial expressions, vocal intonation, eye movement, gestures, posture, body language, and courtroom conduct, both on and off the stand, as well as the witness's nonverbal leakage demonstrating hidden attitudes, feelings, and opinions that are not reflected in the cold transcript this court reviews. Consequently, the trial judge is in the ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.