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Judges uphold dismissal of motion to set aside dissolution decree

March 10, 2017

The Indiana Court of Appeals has rejected a LaPorte County man’s appeal of the dismissal of his motion to set aside a dissolution decree, finding he did not follow the proper procedure to have his motion heard.

After the LaPorte Superior Court issued a dissolution decree dissolving Imre and Amy Falatovics’ marriage, Amy Falatovics appealed and Imre Falatovics filed a verified Trial Rule 60(B) motion to set aside the decree, asserting that his wife had “committed fraud to the court by not disclosing assets, vehicle(s) and bank accounts.”

The trial court continued a hearing until the Indiana Court of Appeals issued an opinion on Amy Falatovics’ first appeal. That decision held the trial court improperly excluded Imre Falatovics’ interest in two parcels of real estate from the marital estate.

Imre Falatovics then filed an addendum to his Trial Rule 60(B) motion, claiming that the appraisals for parcels 1 and 2 were mistaken in fact and valuation. The trial court subsequently issued an amended dissolution decree, and Imre Falatovics appealed. Amy Falatovics moved to continue a hearing on that motion, so her ex-husband moved to stay his appeal.

The Court of Appeals denied the motion to stay the appeal, and after a decision was handed down in November 2015, Amy Falatovics moved to dismiss her ex-husband’s Trial Rule 60(B) motions.  The trial court granted the motion to dismiss, finding Imre Falatovics did not follow proper procedure for bringing his motions.

An appellate panel affirmed that decision Friday in Imre L. Falatovics v. Amy L. Falatovics, 46A04-1605-DR-1161.

Judge Terry Crone first noted in the unanimous opinion that Imre Falatovics filed his Trial Rule 60(B) motion on May 7, 2014, while the Court of Appeals obtained jurisdiction over the case on Jan. 29, 2014. Thus, the trial court did not have jurisdiction over the case when the ex-husband filed his initial motion.

In Logal v. Cruse, 267 Ind. 83, 368 N.E.2d 235 (1977), the Indiana Supreme Court set out a procedure for a motion to set aside while a judgment is on appeal to “allow full and fair consideration of grounds for relief from judgment with a minimum disruption of the appellate process.” While Imre Falatovics conceded that he did not follow the Logal procedure, he also argued that the procedure was inapplicable because in Logal, the appellant filed both the appeal and the motion to set aside judgment, thus seeking “two bites of the same apple,” while he and his ex-wife filed separation motions on separate issues.

But the Court of Appeals rejected that argument, holding that the identity of the movant and appellant were not relevant and that the issues raised do not have to be the same as long as they are related to the same judgment.

Imre Falatovics further argued that his ex-wife’s motion to dismiss was barred by the doctrines of laches or invited error because she did not file her motion to dismiss until nearly two years after he initially filed the Trial Rule 60(B) motion. But Crone rejected the laches argument because two appeals were filed before Amy Falatovics could file her motion to dismiss, and further rejected the invited error argument because her motions for continuances “merely informed the trial court that it lacked jurisdiction to entertain evidentiary hearings while the case was pending on appeal.”

Finally, the appellate panel rejected Imre Falatovics’ argument that the dismissal of his motions without an evidentiary hearing violated his due process and open court access rights.

“We observe that Husband had an opportunity to be heard on the issue raised in the Addendum – the valuation of Parcels 1 and 2 – before the dissolution decree was issue, but at that time he apparently agreed to the valuation of properties in Wife’s appraisal,” Crone wrote. “As for his Trial Rule 60(B) Motion, parties are not entitled to evidentiary hearings when procedural requirements have not been satisfied.”

The court denied Amy Falatovics’ request for attorney fees.

 

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