COA: Woman’s motion in divorce case can stand

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled a woman can seek to modify a divorce agreement after she found her husband hid more than $1 million in undisclosed assets five years later.

Carrie and Michael Baker entered into an agreement to divorce in 2009. The divorce agreement said all property was to be split evenly. In 2014, Carrie Baker discovered more than $1 million in undisclosed assets that Michael Baker had. In 2015, she filed a verified motion to open the property settlement proceedings because assets were supposed to be split evenly.

Michael Baker filed a motion to strike and dismiss. About four months later the trial court granted his motion without a hearing or giving Carrie Baker a chance to respond. The trial court said Carrie Baker was supposed file her verified motion to open proceedings within a year of the judgment, which was in 2009, and she did not. Carrie Baker filed a motion to correct errors and reconsider, but the court denied her motion the same day. Carrie Baker appealed.

The COA said the one-year time limit did not apply in Carrie Baker’s case because Trial Rule 60(B) has a savings clause, providing that it “does not limit the power of a court to entertain an independent action to relieve a party from a judgment, order, or proceeding for fraud upon the court.” Because of that, Carrie Baker’s motion can still be considered by the court, and the ruling was incorrect.

Trial Rule 60(B) is very similar to local rules the Porter County court has, and the COA said the court should follow its own rules and give a hearing on her motion.

The COA remanded the case to the trial court for a hearing.

The case is Carrie Baker v. Michael Baker, 64A05-1509-DR-1381.

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