IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF IOWA
No. 3-098 / 02-1669
Filed March 12, 2003
IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF STEVEN F. JUNGJOHANN
and CINDY L. JUNGJOHANN
Upon the Petition of
STEVEN F. JUNGJOHANN,
CINDY L. JUNGJOHANN,
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Thomas L.
An appeal from the district court's award of permanent alimony
in a dissolution of marriage. AFFIRMED AS MODIFIED.
Anne Hoskins of Fishel & Hoskins, Marion, for appellant.
Barbara Liesveld of Thinnes & Liesveld, Cedar Rapids, for appellee.
Considered by Sackett, C.J., and Zimmer and Vaitheswaran, JJ.
In this appeal from a dissolution decree, the sole issue is
alimony. The district court awarded permanent alimony until death or
remarriage. We affirm as modified.
I. Background Facts and Proceedings
Steven and Cindy Jungjohann married in 1976 and had three children,
two of whom are now adults. After twenty-five years of marriage, Steven
sought a divorce.
At the time of the dissolution proceeding, Steven was fifty-one. He
had an eleventh grade education and stable employment as an operator at a
manufacturing company. He was earning $19.80 per hour and working
mandatory overtime hours, for gross annual wages of $52,792.95. He had a
savings and stock plan with a market value of $7,776.38, and no pension.
Cindy was forty-five. She had a high school education and
intermittent employment in the retail sector. At the time of the
dissolution proceeding, she listed her gross annual income as $15,210.00
Following a hearing, the district court decreed that, consistent with
the parties' agreement, their seventeen-year-old child would stay with
Steven. Cindy was ordered to pay child support of $235.54 per month until
the child died, was emancipated, or reached eighteen and graduated from
The court further decreed that the parties' home, valued at $110,000,
would go to Steven with an equalizing payment to Cindy of $55,000. The
court also ordered Steven's savings and stock plan to be divided equally.
With certain limited exceptions, the parties retained the personal property
in their possession.
The court awarded Cindy alimony of $500 per month, to continue until she
remarried or died. Steven appeals only from this portion of the decree.
Steven contends the district court should have awarded rehabilitative
alimony for three years rather than permanent alimony. Alimony awards are
discretionary depending on the factual circumstances of each case. In re
Marriage of Grady-Woods, 577 N.W.2d 851, 853-54 (Iowa Ct. App. 1998).
Although our review of the award is de novo, we afford district courts
considerable latitude in making alimony awards and will disturb their
rulings only when there has been a failure to do equity. In re Marriage of
Kurtt, 561 N.W.2d 385, 388 (Iowa Ct. App. 1997).
Traditional or permanent alimony is awarded to allow a spouse to
become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to
that enjoyed during the marriage. Grady-Woods, 577 N.W.2d at 854; In re
Marriage of Hettinga, 574 N.W.2d 920, 922 (Iowa Ct. App. 1997). It is
payable for life or for so long as a dependent spouse is incapable of self-
support. Id. Rehabilitative alimony serves to support an economically
dependent spouse through a limited period of education and retraining, with
the goal of establishing self-sufficiency. Id.
We agree with the district court's decision to award permanent or
traditional alimony. This was a long marriage. Cindy was the children's
primary caretaker and did not earn significant wages while they were young.
Even when she returned to the workforce full-time, she had relatively low-
paying retail jobs with no health or retirement benefits. Throughout the
marriage, her earnings were less than half of Steven's and there were scant
signs that her earnings would increase See In re Marriage of O'Rourke, 547
N.W.2d 864, 867 (Iowa Ct. App. 1996) (noting spouse's ability to support
her predissolution lifestyle was limited by virtue of her lower earning
capacity). Indeed, shortly before trial, Cindy was laid off from her job
for several months and was unable to find full-time employment. She
eventually returned to a part-time position at the grocery store where she
had previously worked full time, with hopes that it would evolve into full-
time employment and afford her opportunities for advancement. However, at
trial, she testified she had no reasonable expectation that would happen in
the ensuing months and did not know if it would ever happen.
Cindy also did not save any of her earnings for her own future needs,
but used them instead to pay household bills. Although she was to share
equally in her husband's stock plan, the market value of the plan was less
than $8,000 at the time of trial, promising little security in her old age.
Finally, Cindy owed her parents $24,000 for a mobile home they
purchased for her and she also owed substantial debt on a new vehicle. In
short, she was not in a position to live at the standard she enjoyed during
the marriage, even with the equalizing payment she received for the house.
See In re Marriage of Bell, 576 N.W.2d 618, 622 (Iowa Ct. App. 1998)
abrogated on other grounds by In re Marriage of Wendell, 581 N.W.2d 197,
201 (Iowa Ct. App. 1998) (stating awards of both alimony and substantially
equal property distribution are appropriate after long marriages where
disparity in earning capacity is great). Under these circumstances,
traditional or permanent alimony, rather than rehabilitative alimony, was
Having found that the district court's award of traditional or
permanent alimony was warranted, we are also persuaded that the amount of
$500 was equitable. As for the duration, we believe the alimony obligation
should end when Steven begins to receive social security retirement
benefits. Cf. Bell, 576 N.W.2d at 623 (affirming reduction of alimony
obligation by fifty percent following retirement of payor, but declining to
eliminate obligation, given wife's inability to work).
III. Appellate Attorney Fees
Cindy requests appellate attorney fees. An award rests within our
sound discretion. In re Marriage of Benson, 545 N.W.2d 252, 258 (Iowa
1996). We award her $500.
AFFIRMED AS MODIFIED.