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COA voids rehabilitation maintenance ordered after divorce

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An ex-wife was not entitled to rehabilitation maintenance from her former husband that was approved after the dissolution of their marriage, a panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

“We conclude that the Indiana Code requires the trial court to make a maintenance determination at the time that the final dissolution decree is entered,” Judge Terry Crone wrote for the panel in Marjorie O. Lesley v. Robert T. Lesley, 79A02-1305-DR-472.

When the couple divorced, Tippecanoe Superior Judge Thomas H. Busch found that Marjorie Lesley didn’t present sufficient evidence to establish she was entitled to maintenance, but he indicated the court would revisit the issue after a determination of disability from the Social Security Administration. After SSA determined she was disabled, maintenance was granted with husband ordered to pay until their youngest child’s emancipation.

Husband and wife both appealed, with Marjorie arguing she was entitled to incapacity maintenance, and Robert claiming the court had no authority to re-evaluate its original decision not to grant maintenance.

“We further conclude that because the trial court found in the final dissolution decree that Wife failed to carry her burden to show that she was incapacitated, it did not have the authority to revisit the issue based upon a postdissolution decision from the SSA. Accordingly, we reverse the portion of the trial court’s order granting Wife maintenance and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion, including all necessary recalculations,” Crone wrote in an opinion joined by Judge Edward Najam.

“As a matter of law, the trial court could not retain authority to reevaluate, postpone, or defer that determination based on a subsequent decision from the SSA,” the majority wrote.

Judge John Baker concurred with a separate opinion, explaining that the trial court could have reserved its judgment on the maintenance issue and effected its intent by continuing the hearing at which the final order was issued until after SSA’s disability determination.   


 

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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