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No abuse by trial court in modifying maintenance payment terms

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The Indiana Court of Appeals held that a trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied a man’s petition to revoke spousal maintenance.

Michael Palmby agreed in May 2008 to pay his wife, Karen Palmby, $1,500 a month for two years as part of their divorce agreement. They had been married nearly 27 years and Karen Palmby mainly stayed home with their three children during the course of their marriage. The spousal maintenance was to help Karen Palmby obtain any training to reenter the workforce.

But Michael Palmby ended up paying about $12,000 because he lost significant income due to the housing downturn in 2008 and 2009. He was a Realtor making $120,000 when they divorced; he quit real estate and started working at a call center in 2013 making $50,000. Instead of using the money for work training, Karen Palmby used it to pay medical bills after she broke her arm. She obtained employment at a department store during the pendency of the divorce and has since received a promotion.

In 2013, she sought to recover the remaining money owed; Michael Palmby sought to end the maintenance because of a substantial and continuing change in his circumstances. The trial court decided that Michael Palmby should have $200 per paycheck garnished to pay for the spousal maintenance.

The Court of Appeals found that because the settlement agreement rested on a ground on which the trial court could have ordered the maintenance in the absence of an agreement, the trial court had the authority to modify the instant agreement with respect to rehabilitative maintenance.

The judges noted that Michael Palmby didn’t request a modification based on a substantial and continuing change in circumstances in December 2009 when he entered into an agreement acknowledging he was in contempt for failure to make the payments and had 10 percent of his paycheck garnished until the amount was paid in full.

“Mindful of the ‘great restraint’ which we should exercise in reviewing settlement agreements, we cannot say that the trial court abused its discretion in denying Michael’s request to revoke the spousal maintenance and instead modified the payment terms of the accumulated rehabilitative maintenance,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote in Michael W. Palmby v. Karen M Palmby, 32A04-1310-DR-506.

 

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  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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