Iowa Mom's Remarriage Gives Her Child Support Increase

Iowa case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: modification of child support..

In re the Marriage of Melissa Jo Mihm and Scott Anthony Mihm. Iowa modification of child support.

Scott and Melissa Mihm were married in 1997 and had three children. In 2008, the wife filed a petition for dissolution of the marriage in Winneshiek County, Iowa. In 2009, the parties agreed that the husband would pay the wife $500,000, $100,000 of which was due in one week. The remaining $400,000 would be paid over 8 annual installments. The husband was also to pay $500 per month in spousal support for five years. He was also to pay $1500 per month in child support. They agreed to joint legal custody, with the wife having primary physical custody.

The wife also agreed not to move more than 60 miles away from Fort Atkinson, Iowa. In June 2009, the husband filed a petition to modify the decree. He alleged that the wife had moved more than 60 miles from Fort Atkinson, and that this development constituted a substantial change of circumstances. The wife also made a counterclaim requesting a recalculation of the child support. In April 2011, the wife was remarried, and at this time, the husband also asked to have his spousal support obligation terminated.

Trial was held, and the court first concluded that the wife had, indeed, remarried and that the spousal support should end. It also declined to recalculate the child support. It pointed to the voluntary agreement, and the fact that the wife had received the large property settlement. The wife appealed to the Iowa Court of Appeals. When that court affirmed, she took the case to the Iowa Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court agreed with the wife. First of all, it noted that the child support was below that called for by guidelines. Ironically, it agreed that the remarriage was a change of circumstances. Because she lost the spousal maintenance, this represented a reduction in her income, which was relevant to the issue of increasing child support.

It also noted that the trial court had not made specific findings when it originally agreed to the below guideline amount.

For these reasons, the Supreme Court held that there had been a change of circumstances. Therefore, it remanded the case for recalculation of child support.

No. 12-1928 (Iowa Jan. 24, 2014).

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.

Information on extended validation certificates.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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