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COA reverses decree award of military benefits

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a portion of a divorce decree awarding some of the husband's military benefits and housing allowance to his wife because the separation agreement excluded granting the wife any rights to them.
 
In Timothy D. Wolshire v. Sharon M. Wolshire, No. 16A05-0812-CV-722, Timothy Wolshire appealed the divorce decree which added language to the provision of the parties' separation agreement governing the division of proceeds from the sale of the marital home; awarded Sharon a portion of his military benefits; and gave her a portion of Timothy's military housing allowance he received after the two separated.

The Wolshires filed for legal separation in September 2005; Sharon had an attorney and Timothy appeared pro se. They entered into a separation agreement awarding the marital home to Sharon and the amount Timothy would get if she sold the home. Under "Other Property," the provision stated except for anything otherwise specifically provided for in the separation agreement, Sharon or Timothy would retain separate and exclusive property of anything they already owned or arising out of the marital relationship.

After they separated, but before they officially divorced, Timothy began serving full time in the National Guard and received a basic allowance for housing in March 2006. In September 2007, he began sending the allowance to Sharon based on the advice of a military attorney. But because of the separation agreement, he wasn't legally required to send it.

In September 2008, the trial court issued its decree of dissolution and stuck to the separation agreement except it added language regarding the sale of the marital home that made Timothy responsible for repair and replacement of existing structures upon sale of the home. The trial court also awarded Sharon four months of housing allowance for a total of $5,648 and determined she'd be eligible for a portion of Timothy's military retirement benefits.

The Court of Appeals reversed the disputed portions of the divorce decree because the trial court should have followed the language in the separation agreement instead of adding in new language regarding the marital home or benefits.

When the parties entered into the agreement, there was no mention of Timothy's military benefits. Sharon testified that the benefits just didn't come up when they were putting together the agreement, but a mere oversight doesn't allow the trial court to grant her the benefits when the separation agreement doesn't specify, wrote Judge Patricia Riley.

In regards to Timothy's basic allowance for housing, those payments fall under the "Other Property" provision of the separation agreement and should remain only his property. Sharon's argument that the trial court should have dealt with the allowance because the agreement doesn't mention them is problematic because it would render the "Other Property" provision meaningless, the judge wrote. Because the allowance and benefits weren't specifically mentioned in the separation agreement, and because they were issued to Timothy, the trial court erred in awarding a portion of them to Sharon.

The parties lost any right they might have in later-acquired property when they entered into the separation agreement, and that's a risk Sharon took by signing the agreement, wrote Judge Riley. The case is remanded with instructions to amend the dissolution decree in accordance with the opinion.

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  1. "So we broke with England for the right to "off" our preborn progeny at will, and allow the processing plant doing the dirty deeds (dirt cheap) to profit on the marketing of those "products of conception." I was completely maleducated on our nation's founding, it would seem. (But I know the ACLU is hard at work to remedy that, too.)" Well, you know, we're just following in the footsteps of our founders who raped women, raped slaves, raped children, maimed immigrants, sold children, stole property, broke promises, broke apart families, killed natives... You know, good God fearing down home Christian folk! :/

  2. Who gives a rats behind about all the fluffy ranking nonsense. What students having to pay off debt need to know is that all schools aren't created equal and students from many schools don't have a snowball's chance of getting a decent paying job straight out of law school. Their lowly ranked lawschool won't tell them that though. When schools start honestly (accurately) reporting *those numbers, things will get interesting real quick, and the looks on student's faces will be priceless!

  3. Whilst it may be true that Judges and Justices enjoy such freedom of time and effort, it certainly does not hold true for the average working person. To say that one must 1) take a day or a half day off work every 3 months, 2) gather a list of information including recent photographs, and 3) set up a time that is convenient for the local sheriff or other such office to complete the registry is more than a bit near-sighted. This may be procedural, and hence, in the near-sighted minds of the court, not 'punishment,' but it is in fact 'punishment.' The local sheriffs probably feel a little punished too by the overwork. Registries serve to punish the offender whilst simultaneously providing the public at large with a false sense of security. The false sense of security is dangerous to the public who may not exercise due diligence by thinking there are no offenders in their locale. In fact, the registry only informs them of those who have been convicted.

  4. Unfortunately, the court doesn't understand the difference between ebidta and adjusted ebidta as they clearly got the ruling wrong based on their misunderstanding

  5. A common refrain in the comments on this website comes from people who cannot locate attorneys willing put justice over retainers. At the same time the judiciary threatens to make pro bono work mandatory, seemingly noting the same concern. But what happens to attorneys who have the chumptzah to threatened the legal status quo in Indiana? Ask Gary Welch, ask Paul Ogden, ask me. Speak truth to power, suffer horrendously accordingly. No wonder Hoosier attorneys who want to keep in good graces merely chase the dollars ... the powers that be have no concerns as to those who are ever for sale to the highest bidder ... for those even willing to compromise for $$$ never allow either justice or constitutionality to cause them to stand up to injustice or unconstitutionality. And the bad apples in the Hoosier barrel, like this one, just keep rotting.

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