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Court upholds $4.7 million judgment in divorce case, orders hearing on stock interests

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In a divorce decree complicated by the husband’s ownership and interest in several construction and development companies, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed he must pay his wife more than $4.7 million as an equalization payment, plus any interest accruing after 90 days.

Jeff and Christina Crider were married for 27 years before Christina Crider filed for divorce in 2009. She was mostly a stay-at-home mom during the marriage whereas Jeff Crider is involved in a large number of business entities with his father, Robert, and his brother, Steve.

During the divorce proceedings, Jeff Crider was not very forthcoming with his annual income, but the trial court imputed he earned nearly $920,000 a year, so he should pay more than $1,200 a week in child support.

The case is complicated by “loans” either Jeff Crider made to the companies or his father made to Jeff Crider, money that was never paid back; and disputes over valuation of land and equipment owned by the companies.

Ultimately, Monroe Circuit Special Judge Frank Nardi found Jeff Crider’s business and real estate interests in 2009 totaled more than $11 million and evenly split the marital estate. Because Christina Crider received few liquid assets, the judge required Jeff Crider to make an equalization payment to her of $4,752,066. It would bear statutory interest unless paid in full within 90 days. To secure payment of the judgment, Nardi gave Christina Crider a security lien on all of her husband’s shares and ownership in the businesses. If the judgment isn’t paid in full within 180 days of the final judgment, then she retains ownership and control of the shares until the judgment is fully paid.

In a 57-page decision authored by Judge Michael Barnes, the COA found no error in granting Christina Crider security interests in Jeff Criders’ stock and membership interest, but it ruled Nardi erred in granting her automatic vested “ownership and control” in them upon Jeff Crider’s failure to pay the equalization judgment within 180 days.

The judges also affirmed the decision to delay reduction of Jeff Crider’s child support obligation for 90 days from $1,200 a week to $308 after Christina Crider receives the equalization payment. They reversed Nardi’s decision to require Jeff Crider to pay the $1,257 per week in child support because the equalization payment had not been made that was entered after an appeal was filed in this case. Jeff Crider’s child support obligation remains at $308, the COA held.

The appellate court also remanded for the trial court to enter amended garnishment, attachment and child support income withholding orders that comply with Indiana Code 24-4.5-5-105. The judges affirmed in all other respects.

The case is Jeffrey Crider v. Christina Crider, 53A05-1307-DR-358, 53A04-1401-DR-26.

 

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