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Court affirms division of marital estate in divorce

June 13, 2017

A trial court’s division of a marital estate that was challenged by both the husband and wife was affirmed Tuesday by the Indiana Court of Appeals.

The husband appealed the court’s order that he pay his wife $91,000 — half of the distribution he made to his daughter of money he inherited after the death of his father. The trial court ruled this distribution was not pursuant to any of the deceased’s wishes, so the money husband inherited and gifted to his daughter — $182,000 — was part of the martial estate. The trial court ordered husband make a “dissipation equalization payment” to wife, representing her 50 percent of the inheritance.

The Court of Appeals agreed and also rejected wife’s claims on cross-appeal that the trial court erred in rejecting her motion for partial summary judgment regarding the enforceability of the couple’s prenuptial agreement. The COA also found the trial court didn’t abuse its authority in excluding certain property from the marital estate.

St. Joseph Superior Judge Steven Hostetler made significant findings that the COA cited in Ralph Monty Layne, Jr. v. Sudie Mae Layne, 71A04-1607-DR-1687.

“The trial court did not err when it divided the marital estate. The court did not ‘claw back’ into the marital estate the dissipated assets but excluded them from the marital estate. The trial court properly considered the dissipated assets when it divided the marital estate. The trial court did not err when it awarded Wife $97,000 in assets, including the dissipation equalization payment,” Judge Edward Najam wrote for the panel.

“Husband confuses marital assets with the net marital estate, which includes both assets and liabilities. The award to Wife does not exceed the value of the marital assets. Finally, the trial court did not err when it found that the parties’ premarital agreement was valid and enforceable.”
 

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