IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF LYNNE B. BARNHOUSE AND JOEL P. BARNHOUSE Upon the Petition of LYNNE B. BARNHOUSE, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning JOEL P. BARNHOUSE, Respondent-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Dallas County, Thomas P.
Barnhouse appeals from the decree dissolving his marriage to
Lynne Barnhouse. AFFIRMED AS MODIFIED.
V. McKinney of McKinney Law Offices, P.C., Waukee, for
S. Rieper of Rieper Law, P.C., Des Moines, for appellee.
by Bower, C.J., and May and Greer, JJ.
Barnhouse appeals from the decree dissolving his marriage to
Lynne Barnhouse. He argues the court should have set aside
his gifted and premarital property before dividing the
remaining property between the parties. We find that some of
the realty should be excluded from marital property, and we
modify the equalization payments to Lynne. We otherwise
affirm the district court. We also deny Lynne's request
for appellate attorney fees.
Background Facts and Proceedings
and Lynne began dating around October 1997. In May 1998, they
began commingling funds in a single bank account. They moved
in together by late 1998 with their children from prior
relationships. As a couple, they produced no offspring. When
the relationship crumbled, Lynne petitioned for dissolution
of marriage on December 2, 2016. Because Joel disputed the
marital status of the couple, the district court found by
separate order that they entered into a common law marriage
on or about January 1, 1999. The dissolution matter went to trial on
June 14, 2018.
of background, Joel was born in 1951. At the time of trial,
he worked for a small company in Des Moines performing
maintenance and repairs. He reported receiving gross annual
employment income of $55, 866 and gross annual Social
Security benefits of $25, 920. He plans to retire around the
end of 2018. Upon retirement, he will receive $3408 annually
from a pension with a former employer.
Lynne, she was born in 1961. At the time of trial, she worked
for a company managing livestock. She reported receiving
gross employment income of $31, 607.37 for 2017. She has no
significant retirement savings.
marital property mainly consists of five pieces of realty.
The parties agreed to the value of each parcel. We summarize
each real estate holding.
Dexter acreage is a three-acre parcel worth $42, 700 and is
unencumbered by debt. Joel bought this property from his
mother around 1979. In 2012, the parties spent about $20, 000
from the Guthrie farm mortgage funds to construct a small
building on the property and also used funds to pay off a
loan against the acreage.
Adair farm is a 152-acre parcel worth $1, 228, 160. Joel and
his brother, Tim, each own a one-half interest in the Adair
farm, making Joel's interest worth $614, 080. Minus taxes
and insurance, the total net annual cash rent from the
property is $13, 514. So Joel's share of the annual net
cash rent is $6757. At the time of trial, the couple's
remaining debt obligation from the amount borrowed to
purchase the property equaled $71, 798.
grandfather owned the Adair farm during his lifetime. He left
the property to a family trust when he died. Beneficiaries of
this trust included Joel and his three siblings in equal
shares. No one disputes that Joel inherited a one-fourth
interest in this farm. In 2005, the entire property went to
auction after two of the siblings forced a sale. Joel and
Lynne bought the property at the auction with Joel's
brother, Tim, for $408, 200. Tim and Joel paid their siblings
one-half of that price for their shares, and at the same time
they borrowed $475, 000 from the bank. Joel owned the
property with his brother, but later Lynne signed a deed so
the brothers owned the land as tenants in common.
Guthrie farm is a 110-acre parcel worth $759, 760. The net
annual cash rent from the property is $16, 961. At the time
of trial, there was a mortgage obligation with a balance of
testified the property has been in his family since around
the Civil War. In 1966, Joel's father deeded the property
to his siblings-Joel's uncle Tom and aunt Edith. On June
26, 1998, Tom and Edith deeded the property to Joel. Joel
mortgaged the property and paid Tom and Edith $30, 000 for
the Guthrie farm in 1998 with a promissory note only Joel
signed; however, the parties agree the property was worth
$160, 600 at the time. Joel testified the property was a gift
from his uncle and aunt. While Lynne agreed with
characterizing the property as a gift, she also testified
they bought the property under a "stipulation with the
family that we would take care of Tom and [Edith]." The
parties disagreed about the date Edith began living with
them-Joel testified it was after the purchase and Lynne
maintained it was before purchase. For the next three years,
Lynne provided round-the-clock care for Edith, received $900
per month in public assistance as a caretaker wage for that
role, and did not work outside the home. Edith eventually
moved into a nursing facility when her needs became too great
for Lynne. Later, from about November 2002 until January
2003, Joel's father lived with the parties and Lynne
provided "light care" to him while she worked
outside the home.
Redfield home is worth $190, 000 and has no debt. Lynne
acquired the property during a previous marriage and received
sole ownership of the property in the prior divorce
Joel moved into the Redfield home with Lynne and their
then-minor children in late 1997. In 2005, the home suffered
extensive fire damage, which the parties repaired largely
using insurance money. In 2011, another fire destroyed the
home. The parties then demolished the remains and built a new
home in its place. Each party confirmed they used funds from
the Guthrie farm mortgage to pay $60, 277 to rebuild the
Redfield home and $51, 005 to satisfy the original Redfield
Spirit Lake Home
Spirit Lake home is worth $418, 000 and has no debt.
Lynne's parents owned the property for about fifty years
before they deeded the property to her on July 15, 2011. The
parties paid $50, 000 for the property, which Lynne
acknowledges was well below market value. Joel helped with
maintenance and repairs to the property while Lynne's
parents owned it, and he continued to do so after the
trial began, Lynne and Joel agreed on the specific award of
real estate. The dispute involved designating what was
marital property and the resulting equalization payment.
Lynne requested an equalization payment of $300, 000, plus
spousal support or an additional property payment of $125,
000 in lieu of ongoing support. Joel characterized much ...