A man will get to keep part of his farming property after the Indiana Court of Appeals found appointing a commissioner for the property was an impermissible modification of his and his ex-wife’s divorce agreement.
Kimberly Ring filed for divorce from her husband, Jeffery Ring, in 2015. In the marriage dissolution, it was decided everything should be split equally. Jeffery Ring was a farmer, and as part of the agreement Jeffery kept the farming equipment, machinery, livestock and other property, and because of that had to pay $1,140,825 to Kimberly Ring as part of the settlement.
Jeffery Ring said he was able to borrow $400,00 right away to help pay the debt, and the rest would need to be paid off within 10 years at a minimum of $75,000 per year. Jeffery Ring had 90 days to complete the loan application. After this agreement, Jeffery Ring used one of the two parcels of land as collateral to help his son get a farm, and could not borrow the $400,000 he said he could beforehand.
Kimberly Ring filed a citation for contempt alleging Jeffery Ring had not complied with the order to complete the loan application in 90 days and later filed a request for orders to enforce decree of dissolution. In that she requested a commissioner to sell the farms to satisfy the judgment.
A commissioner was appointed for the farms, and later Kimberly Ring filed another citation for contempt saying Jeffery did not cooperate with the commissioner. At the end of that hearing, Jeffery and Kimberly agreed to sell the smaller of the two parcels to satisfy the judgment. Jeffery Ring appealed.
The trial court affirmed that the selling of the smaller parcel was a permissible modification of the agreement and settlement, but Jeffery Ring appealed that appointing a commissioner for parcel A was an impermissible modification.
The COA said the trial court’s appointment of a commissioner to operate and sell the bigger parcel was an impermissible modification of the original terms between the parties because it went beyond Jeffery Ring’s obligation to attempt to obtain a loan to satisfy the judgment, reversing that part of the judgment. Also, there was no danger that Jeffery Ring was going to mismanage the farm or waste it in any way. Jeffery Ring’s family had been farming for years, and Jeffery had operated it successfully until that point.
The case is Jeffery Allen Ring v Kimberly S. Ring, 33A01-1507-DR-1024,