Ex-husband needed to take action to modify judgment, COA rules

March 12, 2015

A man challenging the proposed value of his pension’s surviving spouse benefit in a dissolution proceeding had to file his own Ind. Trial Rule 60(B) motion and not rely on the same motion filed by his ex-wife, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Thursday.

In Ronald Fritts v. Linda Fritts, 34A02-1405-DR-361, both Ronald Fritts and his ex-wife, Linda Christopher, challenged the division of property and other issues in their 2014 post-dissolution order. Fritts thought the trial court should have credited Christopher with his proposed value of his pension’s surviving spouse benefit, because it will create a windfall for his ex-wife. Fritts tried to remove his surviving spouse benefit after the dissolution proceedings began, but the pension holder refused to remove it. This benefit reduced the amount of money Fritts will receive monthly by more than $1,000.

Christopher believed the trial court’s calculation of her child support arrearage did not take into account a set-off already included in the 2010 dissolution order, that the court miscalculated how much she owed in medical expenses, the trial court did not properly find her ex-husband had paid her attorney fees, and that it should have credited her for money removed from joint accounts.

The COA affirmed on the argument raised by Fritts, finding that he should have filed a motion to correct error shortly after the 2010 dissolution order was handed down or pursued relief under Trial Rule 60 (B). But he cannot rely on the T.R. 60(B) motion filed by Christopher in order to raise his claim.

The judges agreed with Christopher that the trial court erroneously included $2,310 in her child support arrearage as that was already credited to Fritts in the 2010 dissolution order and that Fritts’ exhibit pertaining to the medical bills appears to contain duplicate bills and includes services provided to him, not their daughter. The judges remanded for the court to recalculate her unpaid medical expenses.

The trial court affirmed in all other respects, including that Christopher was not entitled to a credit for an alleged decrease in value of a checking account awarded to her and that Fritts did pay $4,000 in her attorney fees. The judges declined to award Christopher appellate attorney fees.


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