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COA: Wife is entitled to maintenance, larger amount of marital estate

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has ordered a trial court to divvy up a marital estate with more than 50 percent of it going to the wife because she rebutted the presumption of an equal division.

Daylene Coleman appealed the order dissolving her marriage to Scott Atchison, arguing the court abused its discretion when it denied her request for incapacity maintenance and in its division of the marital estate.

Coleman and Atchison were married for 10 years when Coleman filed for divorce in 2011. During the course of their marriage, she became disabled, stopped working, and began receiving Social Security disability payments. Atchison has worked throughout the marriage and has children from a previous relationship.

The trial court found that the presumption of an equal division of assets and liabilities between the parties has been rebutted based on evidence presented by Coleman. Wells Circuit Judge Kenton W. Kiracofe held that a division of property in favor of Coleman is warranted, but then ordered the marital property split 50/50.

The parties also stipulated that Coleman is incapacitated to the extent that her ability to support herself is materially affected, but Kiracofe declined to award her incapacity maintenance.

The Court of Appeals reversed the dissolution order in Daylene M. (Atchison) Coleman v. Scott A. Atchison, 90A02-1311-DR-921. The judges noted Kiracofe’s findings and conclusions on the maintenance award are inconsistent. He made findings based on Temple v. Temple, 164 Ind. App. 215, 328 N.E.2d 227 (1975), to explain why he did not award maintenance. But he also found that there are no extenuating circumstances “that directly relate to the criteria for awarding incapacity maintenance” and that Atchison should pay Coleman maintenance, quoting Cannon v. Cannon, 758 N.e.2d 524 (Ind. 2001), without citation.

Kiracofe also expressly found Coleman rebutted the presumption of an equal division, but then divided the martial estate in half. The appeals court ordered on remand for the lower court to award her more than 50 percent of the marital estate and to either award Coleman incapacity maintenance or identify specific extenuating circumstances directly related to the statutory criteria for awarding such maintenance that would justify denying the award.
 

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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