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Case No. 19-0785

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

In re the Marriage of Serrano

Trisha Peckosh Serrano-Petitioner-Appellee

Emilio Bernardo Serrano, Respondent-Appellant

Attorney for Appellant

Emilio B. Serrano, self-represented

Attorney for Appellee

Tammy Westhoff Gentry and Adam C. Witosky

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Opinion

Opinion Number:
Date Published:
Jun 17, 2020

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Celine Gogerty, Judge.  AFFIRMED AS MODIFIED AND REMANDED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Tabor, P.J.  (17 pages)

            Emilio Serrano challenges several aspects of the decree dissolving his marriage to Trisha Peckosh.  He contests the grant of sole legal custody and physical care of their four children to Trisha.  Emilio also claims the district court should not have ordered him to pay child or spousal support.  And he contends the court failed to do equity in dividing the marital assets and in awarding attorney fees to Trisha.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the evidence demonstrates, the parties cannot be civil in making basic decisions, and Trisha’s established ability to care for the children, we affirm the award of custody to Trisha.  Next, because joint physical care is not appropriate, and Emilio is overwhelmed by supervising all four children at the same time, physical care of the children should remain with Trisha.  Also, because it is proper for the court to consider the therapist’s recommendation and the provision highlighted by Emilio contramands In re Marriage of Stephens, 810 N.W.2d 523, 531 n.3 (Iowa Ct. App. 2012), we remand for modification of the decree to strike the language making visitation contingent on the opinion of the therapist.  Next, because the district court properly used the child support guidelines in setting Emilio’s obligations, we affirm the child support order.  Also, because rehabilitative alimony achieves equity between the parties, we affirm the rehabilitative alimony for ten years.  Next, because we find the better mechanism to secure Emilio’s future performance is to impose a judicial or equitable lien on his real property, we remand for this modification of the decree.  Next, because find no error in the court’s valuations and we defer to the district court’s finding Emilio hid or depleted marital assets, we find the distribution of assets and debts to be equitable to both parties.  Also, because Emilio has greater ability to pay reasonable attorney fees, we affirm Trisha’s attorney fees claim.  Last, because of the disparity in incomes, as well as Trisha’s success in defending the major issues raised in Emilio’s appeal, we remand with instruction for the district court to determine a reasonable amount for the attorney fees on appeal.

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