COA: Growing crops go in marital pot

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today that crops growing in the ground that haven't been harvested are considered marital assets. This is the first time Indiana courts have ruled on the issue.

In In Re the Marriage of: James R. Webb v. Nancy J. (Webb) Schleutker, No. 49A02-0707-CV-568, James Webb appealed the trial court decision to include soon-to-be harvested crops in the marital pot. The trial court issued its dissolution decree in February 2007, and included crops growing in August 2005 at the time Nancy Schleutker filed for divorce.

Because no Indiana caselaw had discussed the proposition that growing crops are marital assets, the Court of Appeals turned to other jurisdictions to determine that the crops should be considered marital assets, wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik.

The appellate court also affirmed the trial court's consideration of United States Department of Agriculture payments as part of the value of the crops, the trial court's valuing of the marital property, and the division of the marital property. The trial court didn't err in allowing Schleutker to stay in the marital residence for three months after Webb made a property equalization payment to her, wrote the judge.

"There was nothing improper about the trial court allowing Wife a short period of time to secure new housing in order to accomplish the property division," wrote Judge Vaidik. "As for Husband's assertion that the value of Wife's continued residence is an amount in excess of the marital estate, there is no indication that Wife's prerogative to stay at the marital residence for up to three months is over and above the equal division."

The appellate court also affirmed the award of appellate attorney's fees to Schleutker.

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