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COA affirms order of extra payments to ex for unsold homes

January 24, 2019

A man must pay his ex-wife an extra $115,200 in monthly payments after he decided not to sell marital property as had been contemplated in their divorce settlement agreement, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday, affirming a trial court order.

Donald Katz filed for divorce in 2014 in Hamilton Superior Court, and a settlement agreement approved a couple of years later provided he would pay his ex-wife, Lori Katz, 154 monthly payments of $3,600. The agreement explicitly stated a marital home in Carmel and a condominium in Colorado would be sold, among other things.

The properties were listed for sale, but in 2017, Donald and Lori both signed a document drafted without an attorney that said the couple wished to “modify their earlier agreement” and remove the properties for sale “for the foreseeable future” because Donald wished to retain them. Some time later, Donald moved for the appointment of a commissioner, and Lori responded by asking the court for either an order to sell the house and condo, or an order for Donald to make additional monthly payments to accurately account for the changed division of marital property.

After a hearing, the trial court denied Donald’s motion for appointment of a commissioner and granted Lori’s request, ordering Donald’s payment obligation extended from 154 monthly payments to 186. Donald challenged the order on appeal but lost.

“Donald claims the trial court’s award of additional property settlement payments was unfair because he had no notice that the court would rule upon ‘the issue of whether the parties had agreed not to sell the properties,’” Senior Judge Randall Shepard wrote for the panel in Donald P. Katz v. Lori B. Katz, 18A-DR-1125. “The record shows otherwise.

“In Lori’s response to Donald’s request to appoint a commissioner, she claimed the settlement agreement required the parties to sell the marital home and the condominium,” Shepard continued. “She further stated Donald had removed the properties from sale and she was entitled to either: (1) a court order to sell the properties; or (2) additional property settlement payments from Donald.

“Donald was clearly informed in advance of the hearing that Lori sought additional property settlement payments due to his withdrawal of the properties from sale, and he was by no means ambushed at the evidentiary hearing,” Shepard concluded. “For these reasons, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.”

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