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Judges disagree on if remand is necessary

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed and remanded a trial court's grant of an ex-wife's petition for additional relief for funds, finding the trial court didn't hear evidence on certain "critical" factors. The judges on appeal didn't agree as to whether the case should be remanded.

In Harold E. Bean Jr. v. Carol A. Bean, No. 49A05-0807-CV-390, the appellate court considered whether the trial court properly adjudicated certain of Harold Bean's dissolution debts to be nondischargeable for the purpose of the federal bankruptcy proceedings; whether the trial court erred in ordering him to pay half of the Beans' children's college expenses; and whether it erred in ordering Harold to pay Carol Bean's attorney fees.

As part of the couple's settlement agreement, Harold was to assume and pay the second mortgage on the marital home, and they were to split equally the cost of educational expenses and file joint tax income returns for 1986 and 1987.

Harold filed bankruptcy after the dissolution; Carol was forced to refinance the home to pay off the second mortgage and tax liability because he failed to pay their joint tax liability.

When considering whether Harold's dissolution debts, such as the second mortgage and tax liability were nondischargeable, the Indiana Court of Appeals noted important evidence on certain factors was missing. The record didn't contain evidence of their incomes and earning potentials when they entered the settlement agreement, and neither party presented evidence about the actual need for support or the adequacy of support without the award, wrote Judge Elaine Brown.

Without a record of the parties' financial situations when they entered into the settlement agreement, the Court of Appeals was unable to tell whether the second mortgage assigned to Harold was intended to be in nature of maintenance or support or part of a property division, which would determine whether the debts were nondischargeable. The appellate court reversed the award reimbursing Carol for her payment of the second mortgage and payment of the tax liability.

The Court of Appeals also reversed the order Harold had to pay half of his children's college expenses. The parties' settlement agreement didn't specify Harold would be responsible for their college fees and expenses, and only mentioned one child's pre-school and kindergarten expenses. In addition, Carol never filed a petition to modify the agreement, wrote the judge. The trial court also erred in awarding Carol attorney fees.

The majority remanded the case for a hearing consistent with the opinion, but Judge Margret Robb dissented to ordering a remand. While she concurred with reversing the orders against Harold, she believed Carol wasn't entitled to a "second bite of the apple" to prove her case. The trial court had no evidence regarding several of the factors for determining dischargeability, and the factors in Carol's favor aren't sufficient to override the factors for which the evidence doesn't support her position and for which there is no evidence at all, wrote Judge Robb.

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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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