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In re Marriage of Weier

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 9, 2020

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF TRISHA ROSE WEIER AND NICHOLAS JEFFREY WEIER Upon the Petition of TRISHA ROSE WEIER, n/k/a TRISHA ROSE IVERSEN, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning NICHOLAS JEFFREY WEIER, Respondent-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Crawford County, Tod J. Deck, Judge.

         A father challenges the physical care and visitation provisions of an order modifying his divorce decree.

          Michael J. Riley and Bryan D. Swain of Salvo, Deren, Schenck, Gross, Swain & Argotsinger, P.C., Harlan, for appellant.

          Maura Sailer of Reimer, Lohman, Reitz, Sailer & Ullrich, Denison, for appellee.

          Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and May, JJ.

          TABOR, Presiding Judge.

         Nicholas Weier appeals the modification order placing physical care of their two sons with his ex-wife Trisha Iversen. Nicholas contends he would be the superior caregiver and that granting him physical care would "minimize the change in the children's lives." In the alternative, Nicholas asks for additional visitation time. After our independent review of the record and issues raised, we concur in the opinion of the district court that granting Trisha physical care is in the children's best interests. We also decline to alter the visitation schedule.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         Nicholas and Trisha married in 2011 and divorced in 2015. They have two children in common: E.W., born in 2012, and O.W., born in 2013. At the time of the divorce, both parents lived in the Denison area and shared custody of the children. The decree incorporated their stipulation for joint physical care.

         In June 2018, Nicholas sought to modify the decree to address Trisha's planned move to Bancroft, which was just shy of 150 miles from Denison. The move related to a career advancement for Trisha's new husband, Trent. But Trisha, a registered nurse, also found a job there with better pay and more flexible hours. Trisha and Trent have a daughter, who was born in 2016. According to Trisha, E.W. and O.W. are protective of their little sister. The district court found Trent had a positive relationship with the boys.

         After the divorce, Nicholas stayed in the marital home, which is situated on sixteen acres. His job as a self-employed seed salesman afforded him flexible hours. In Crawford County, Nicholas has extended family who are close to the boys. On the negative side, Nicholas received his second and third convictions for operating while intoxicated (OWI) since the divorce. The district court also noted the "hurried manner" in which Nicholas decided to cohabitate with new girlfriends.

         At the time of the modification hearing, O.W. was in preschool and E.W. was in first grade. E.W.'s teacher noticed that he was showing "a lot of anxieties" and struggled "attention-wise." A psychiatrist diagnosed him with attention deficit disorder and prescribed medication. Trisha believed that the medication helped their son concentrate better, but Nicholas disagreed that E.W. needed the medication. Trisha also took E.W. for counseling sessions. She advised Nicholas of the appointments, but he opted not to attend.

         After hearing from both parents, the district court decided Trisha's approach to co-parenting supported an award of physical care to her. The court awarded Nicholas liberal visitation rights. Nicholas now appeals.

         II. Scope and ...


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