Van Ellen v. Meyer, No. 55604

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtHeard before MOORE; MOORE
Citation207 N.W.2d 552
PartiesDarrell D. Van ELLEN, Appellant, v. Wendell Dean MEYER, Appellee.
Decision Date23 May 1973
Docket NumberNo. 55604

Page 552

207 N.W.2d 552
Darrell D. Van ELLEN, Appellant,
v.
Wendell Dean MEYER, Appellee.
No. 55604.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
May 23, 1973.

Page 553

Shepard & Shepard, Allison, for appellant.

David R. Nagle, Evansdale, for appellee.

Heard before MOORE, C.J., and MASON, REES, UHLENHOPP and McCORMICK, JJ.

MOORE, Chief Justice.

The sole issue raised here by plaintiff's appeal is whether the right to bring an action for alienation of affections is barred, under section 598.20, Code, 1971, by a decree of dissolution of marriage absent a reservation of right to bring such an action in the dissolution decree.

Plaintiff-appellant, Darrell D. Van Ellen, and his wife Linda K., were married December 20, 1963. On January 7, 1972, this marriage was dissolved on the wife's petition. Following dissolution Darrell filed an action for damages against defendant, Wendell Dean Meyer, for alleged alienation of Linda's affections.

Defendant filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff's petition on the ground it failed to plead a cause of action on which any relief could be granted. On submission of the motion the parties by stipulation made the dissolution decree a part of the record. It included no reservation to plaintiff of any right or claim of alienation of affections.

The trial court relied on our holdings in Hamilton v. McNeill, 150 Iowa 470, 129 N.W. 480 (1911) and Duff v. Henderson, 191 Iowa 819, 183 N.W. 475 (1921) that a right of action for damages for alienation of affections is a 'right acquired by the marriage' and sustained defendant's motion to dismiss.

As early as 1851 and until July 1, 1970 our divorce laws included this statute: 'When a divorce is decreed the guilty party forfeits all rights acquired by marriage.'

In reference to this statute (then Code section 3181) in Hamilton v. McNeill, supra, 150 Iowa at 474, 129 N.W. at 481, this court said:

'We think it must be said that plaintiff's right if any, to maintain this action, (alienation of affections), is necessarily a right 'acquired by the marriage.' The cause of action is one which could arise only out of and by virtue of the marriage relation. On the face of the statute, therefore, the plaintiff, having been adjudged in the divorce decree to be the guilty party, forfeited 'all rights acquired by the marriage.' (Citations).'

Several of our later cases cite and apply this interpretation of the statute. In Duff v. Henderson, supra, 191 Iowa 819, 183 N.W. 475 (1921) we broadened the rule to...

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6 practice notes
  • Beeck v. Aquaslide 'N' Dive Corp., No. 2-68891
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 16, 1984
    ...In support, Aquaslide cites Ohlen v. Harriman, 296 N.W.2d 794, 795 (Iowa 1980); Michael, 292 N.W.2d at 420; and Van Ellen v. Meyer, 207 N.W.2d 552, 553 (Iowa 1973). In each of those cases, however, a claim had not been preserved and the issue was whether a particular claim had to be preserv......
  • Bearbower v. Merry, No. 60734
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 17, 1978
    ...based on rights acquired by marriage, they are lost when the marriage is dissolved unless preserved in the decree. Van Ellen v. Meyer, 207 N.W.2d 552 (Iowa 1973); see § 598.20, The II. Alienation of affections. There is no dispute among members of this court concerning the role of marriage ......
  • Giltner v. Stark, No. 2-58135
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 20, 1977
    ...the dissolution decree preserving the judgment, ended plaintiff's right to the judgment. He relies heavily on Van Ellen v. Meyer, Iowa, 207 N.W.2d 552, 554, where we interpreted for the first time Code section 598.20, which provides in "When a dissolution of marriage is decreed the parties ......
  • Ohlen v. Harriman, No. 63833
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 17, 1980
    ...for alienation of affections is a "right acquired by marriage." See Bearbower v. Merry, 266 N.W.2d 128, 130 (1978); Van Ellen v. Meyer, 207 N.W.2d 552 (Iowa 1973); Lundberg v. Allen, 176 N.W.2d 775 (1970); Jacobsen v. Saner, 247 Iowa 191, 72 N.W.2d 900 (1955); Duff v. Henderson, 191 Iowa 81......
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6 cases
  • Beeck v. Aquaslide 'N' Dive Corp., No. 2-68891
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 16, 1984
    ...In support, Aquaslide cites Ohlen v. Harriman, 296 N.W.2d 794, 795 (Iowa 1980); Michael, 292 N.W.2d at 420; and Van Ellen v. Meyer, 207 N.W.2d 552, 553 (Iowa 1973). In each of those cases, however, a claim had not been preserved and the issue was whether a particular claim had to be preserv......
  • Bearbower v. Merry, No. 60734
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 17, 1978
    ...based on rights acquired by marriage, they are lost when the marriage is dissolved unless preserved in the decree. Van Ellen v. Meyer, 207 N.W.2d 552 (Iowa 1973); see § 598.20, The II. Alienation of affections. There is no dispute among members of this court concerning the role of marriage ......
  • Giltner v. Stark, No. 2-58135
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 20, 1977
    ...the dissolution decree preserving the judgment, ended plaintiff's right to the judgment. He relies heavily on Van Ellen v. Meyer, Iowa, 207 N.W.2d 552, 554, where we interpreted for the first time Code section 598.20, which provides in "When a dissolution of marriage is decreed the parties ......
  • Ohlen v. Harriman, No. 63833
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 17, 1980
    ...for alienation of affections is a "right acquired by marriage." See Bearbower v. Merry, 266 N.W.2d 128, 130 (1978); Van Ellen v. Meyer, 207 N.W.2d 552 (Iowa 1973); Lundberg v. Allen, 176 N.W.2d 775 (1970); Jacobsen v. Saner, 247 Iowa 191, 72 N.W.2d 900 (1955); Duff v. Henderson, 191 Iowa 81......
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