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Case No. 17-2022

For summaries from opinions prior to August, 2018, view PDF versions here

In re the Marriage of Christenson

Dawn Renee Christenson, Petitioner-Appellant

Chad Totten Christenson, Respondent-Appellee

Attorney for Appellant

Blake D. Lubinus

Attorney for Appellee

Cory F. Gourley

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Opinion

Opinion Number:
Date Published:
Oct 10, 2018

           Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Michael D. Huppert, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Bower and McDonald, JJ.  Opinion by Potterfield, P.J. (15 pages)

           Dawn Christenson appeals from the district court’s denial of her petition to modify provisions of the decree dissolving her marriage to Chad Christenson.  Dawn asked the district court to modify the decree to give her sole legal custody and physical care of the parties’ minor child; she also asked the court to modify the child-support obligation accordingly.  On appeal, Dawn challenges the district court’s denial of her motion for default judgment.  Alternatively, she argues the court should have granted her application for modification on the merits because a substantial change in circumstances warranting modification exists and modification is in the minor child’s best interests.  OPINION HOLDS: As the district court is bound to reach custody determinations based upon the best interests of the child at issue, we cannot say the court abused its discretion when it denied Dawn’s application for default judgment.  In considering the merits of the application for modification, we find Dawn established a substantial change in circumstances exists, but we cannot say she is better able to minister to A.C.’s well-being.  Thus, we affirm the district court’s denial of her application for modification.

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