ILNews

COA: Husband not entitled to judgment relief

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a trial court order granting a husband relief from judgment because the order modified the parties' original property settlement, which wasn't allowed under Indiana Statute or Trial Rule 60(B).

In Janet L. Dillard v. Donald S. Dillard, No. 36A01-0712-CV-606, Donald Dillard filed for divorce from his wife, Janet Dillard, in July 2006. The parties agreed in December 2006 to a property settlement, which stipulated the marital home would be sold and Donald would receive 25 percent of net profits and Janet would receive 75 percent.

The settlement agreement stated any modification or waivers of the terms of the agreement would be effective only if they are reduced to writing and executed with the same formality as the agreement.

In February 2007, Donald filed a motion to set aside the dissolution decree because before they separated, he withdrew money from his 401(k) to pay off some of the couple's credit card debt and that withdrawal will result in a tax liability of more than $26,000.

Janet filed a motion to dismiss, arguing Indiana Code Section 31-15-2-17(c) prohibited the modification of the decree because she hadn't consented to a modification, and the parties hadn't executed a written modification as required under the settlement agreement.

The trial court granted Donald's motion regarding the property settlement portion of the decree; Janet filed a motion to reconsider, saying Donald wasn't entitled to relief under Trial Rule 60(B). The trial court denied the motion to reconsider, and in November 2007, ordered that the majority of the net proceeds from the sale of the marital house go to Donald to pay of his tax liability.

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the trial court ruling because the parties didn't agree to a modification of the disposition of their property as is required by the original settlement agreement. Janet never consented to the modification, as is required under Indiana Code. A court can only modify the dissolution if there is fraud, duress, or undue influence, which didn't occur in this case, wrote Judge Carr Darden.

Donald also wasn't entitled to relief under Trial Rule 60(B) because he didn't set forth any extraordinary circumstances or show that the circumstances weren't his fault that would invoke the trial court's equitable powers under the rule, wrote Judge Darden.
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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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