COA affirms dissolution order despite husband’s arguments

The Boone Superior Court did not err in ordering an unequal division of a former couple’s marital estate, the Court of Appeals of Indiana has ruled.

Husband Vichitra Tyagi and wife Vinita Singh Tyagi married in September 2007, but Vinita filed for divorce in October 2016.

In September 2017, Vichitra’s parents, Sushma and Vijai, filed a motion to intervene in the dissolution proceedings on the grounds that Sushma owned Hoosier Broadband LLC and Vijai owned a Zionsville residence that the parties all resided in. The motion to intervene was granted, prompting Vichitra and Vinita to jointly move to bifurcate the dissolution proceedings and request that the Boone Superior Court determine, apart from the rest of the proceedings, whether HBB and the Zionsville residence should be included in the marital estate as marital assets.

In the first phase of the bifurcated proceedings, the trial court determined neither were martial assets. But following the final hearing, the trial court entered its decree of dissolution and found in relevant part that HBB owed a debt to Vichitra on a note payable in the amount of $183,031.38, which was identified as an asset to Vichitra in his share of the marital estate.

The trial court then found Vichitra’s weekly income for child support purposes should remain at $5,000 based on his ability to manipulate his income for tax purposes and ease-of-access to additional funds from HBB in his role as CEO and son of the owner.

The court also concluded Vinita’s evidence of the conversion rate from United States dollars to Indian rupees was to be used to determine the value of her financial transfers to her brother in India. Lastly, it ruled that the marital estate was to be divided 55-45 in Vinita’s favor.

The Court of Appeals affirmed, finding the trial court did not err in any of the four issues raised by Vichitra.

First, the appellate court found Vichitra misconstrued the stipulation of Vinita’s counsel regarding the note payable. It concluded Vinita only stipulated that there was no formal writing of the note payable owed by HBB but that there were other documents to prove its existence.

“Indeed, Wife introduced into the record HBB’s balance sheets, which showed the note payable, as well as Husband’s deposition testimony in the Hessman litigation, in which Husband admitted to the existence of the note payable,” Judge Paul Mathias wrote, referencing a lawsuit filed by former HBB co-owner James Hessman.

Next, the COA concluded it would not entertain Vichitra’s request to reweigh the evidence and give priority to his evidence over Vinita’s regarding his weekly income of $5,000 for purposes of child support.

It also found no error in the trial court’s reliance on Vinita’s evidence of the conversion rate from United States dollars to Indiana rupees at the time of the parties’ separation because Vichitra submitted no evidence in support of his preferred rate.

Finally, the appellate court found that Vichitra raised for the first time on appeal the contention that the trial court erred when it did not equally divide the marital estate. It noted he never argued in the trial court that the court should equally divide the marital estate.

“Instead, Husband expressly argued that an unequal division of the marital estate was appropriate, though Husband’s argument was that he should benefit from the unequal division. Husband cannot now argue, for the first time on appeal, that the trial court erred when it unequally divided the marital estate,” Mathias concluded.

The case is Vichitra Tyagi v. Vinita Singh Tyagi, 21A-DC-1392.

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