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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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