In re Marriage of Snyder, 22-0080

CourtCourt of Appeals of Iowa
Writing for the CourtAHLERS, JUDGE.
PartiesIN RE THE MARRIAGE OF JODI JEAN SNYDER AND ADAM JEFFERY SNYDER Upon the Petition of JODI JEAN SNYDER, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning ADAM JEFFERY SNYDER, Respondent-Appellee.
Docket Number22-0080
Decision Date17 November 2022

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF JODI JEAN SNYDER AND ADAM JEFFERY SNYDER Upon the Petition of JODI JEAN SNYDER, Petitioner-Appellant, And Concerning ADAM JEFFERY SNYDER, Respondent-Appellee.

No. 22-0080

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 17, 2022


Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Ida County, Jeffery L. Poulson, Judge.

Jodi Snyder appeals from a dissolution decree.

Maura Sailer of Lohman, Reitz, Sailer, Ullrich &Blazek, Denison, for appellant.

Krisanne C. Weimer of Weimer Law, P.C., Council Bluffs, for appellee.

Considered by Greer, P.J., and Ahlers and Chicchelly, JJ.

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AHLERS, JUDGE.

Following a trial, the district court dissolved the marriage of Jodi and Adam Snyder. Jodi appeals. She challenges the property division and the district court's refusal to require Adam to pay her trial attorney fees. Both parties request appellate attorney fees.

I. Property Division

Dissolution of marriage actions are reviewed de novo. In re Marriage of McDermott, 827 N.W.2d 671, 676 (Iowa 2013). "Accordingly, we examine the entire record and adjudicate anew the issue of the property distribution." Id. While we give weight to the findings of the district court, particularly concerning the credibility of witnesses, we are not bound by them. Id. The district court's ruling will only be disturbed when the ruling fails to do equity. Id.

The district court divided the parties' assets and debts using a recapitulation statement listing each asset/debt, the value of it, and which party received it. After totaling each party's respective net worth, the court determined that Adam ended up with a net worth of $19,727.00 more than Jodi. To make the division of property equitable, the district court ordered Adam to pay an equalization payment to Jodi equal to one-half of the difference, or $9863.50.[1]

Jodi does not challenge the distribution scheme used by the district court of totaling each party's net worth and making the party with the higher net worth make

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an equalization payment to the other. Rather, she disagrees with the inclusion of certain assets and debts on the recapitulation statement, making two categories of challenges to the division of the couple's property. First, she claims the district court improperly accounted for temporary support payments Adam made to a joint account rather than to the clerk of court. Second, she claims the district court failed to account for waste Adam committed by disposing of certain assets and incurring certain debts after the parties separated. We tackle these claims in turn.

A. Accounting for Temporary Support Payments

The district court ordered Adam to pay temporary child and spousal support to the clerk of court prior to trial. The issue before us regarding accounting for these support payments stems from communication problems Adam had with his first attorney that led to double payment of some of his obligation.[2]

The record is replete with evidence that Adam's first attorney neglected to keep him informed of events, signed his name to documents, and failed to respond to discovery requests, leading to a variety of sanctions. Adam testified that he was under the impression from his first attorney that the support payments would be withdrawn from his paycheck, but he had never been told he needed to send payments to the clerk of court. When Adam noticed payments were not being withheld from his wages, he tried to meet his support obligation by transferring money from his personal account to a joint account used by Jodi. He believed this satisfied his support obligation. Eventually, wage withholding began, but, because

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there was no record of the payments Adam had made directly to the joint account, the withholding included amounts covering current and past due amounts. So, according to Adam, he ended up paying $6633.00 in support twice-once directly to Jodi and a second time from wage withholding. The district court found Adam's testimony credible and included $6633.00 as an asset in Jodi's column on the recapitulation statement to account for the double payment.

Jodi acknowledges that Adam made payments directly to their joint account and the purpose of those payments was to satisfy his support obligations. To her credit, Jodi does not challenge the notion that she should have to account for receiving support payments twice. She does, however, challenge the amount she actually received. While she acknowledges Adam made over $6633.00 in support payments to their joint account, she testified that Adam had access to that account, he made withdrawals from the account, and she only withdrew some money from the account before Adam took the rest. She estimates the amount she withdrew at $3200.00, and she asks that that figure be used as an asset on her side of the recapitulation statement rather than the $6633.00 used by the district court.

Given the vague nature of Jodi's testimony estimating the amount of double payments she received coupled with the district court's finding that Adam was credible on the details of this issue, we decline to disturb the district court's valuation of the double payment received by Jodi at $6633.00.

B. Waste-Dissipation of Assets and Incurring of Debt

Jodi asserts multiple claims of waste by Adam that she contends were not properly accounted for in the property division. The claimed waste consists of dissipated assets and post-separation debt.

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1. Dissipated Assets

Jodi claims Adam disposed of assets after the parties separated. She wants the value of those assets included in Adam's column of the recapitulation statement, which the district court did not do. See In re Marriage of Fennelly, 737 N.W.2d 97, 106 n.6 (Iowa 2007) (noting that "[t]ypically, a dissipated asset is included in the marital estate and awarded to the spouse who wasted the asset"). The disputed assets are the proceeds of a cashed-in retirement account and two bonus checks Adam received from his employer.

We decline to address this issue because Jodi failed to preserve error. Before we decide issues on appeal they must be raised and decided by the district court. See Meier v. Senecaut, 641 N.W.2d 532, 537 (Iowa 2002). While Jodi raised this issue during trial, the district court's original decree did not address it. Jodi filed a motion pursuant to Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.904(2) asking the court to enlarge its ruling to address the issue of waste, but the only claimed waste she asked the court to address was post-separation credit card debt Adam incurred. The motion does not mention the dissipation of assets that Jodi now claims on appeal, so the court...

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