COA: Bedford couple attempted to defraud ex-husband

A man who accused his ex-wife of purchasing a home to defraud him of money she owed him as a result of their dissolution decree has secured a reversal from the Court of Appeals of Indiana.

In January 2018, Tammy Ketcham was ordered by a dissolution court to pay a $205,098.75 equalization payment to her ex-husband, Kelly Holland, within 90 days of the order.

Tammy filed a motion to correct error and instead of paying the ordered amount on the 90th day, used the cash assets allocated to her by the dissolution court to purchase real property in Bedford for $200,000.

She took title to the property as a joint tenant with her then-boyfriend, Jason Ketcham, who did not contribute to that purchase price. Rather, the purchase money consisted entirely of the proceeds from Tammy’s sale of her and Holland’s former property and the proceeds from the life-insurance payment she had received in the dissolution decree.

Eventually, Tammy and Jason got married and deeded the real property as a married couple. Over roughly a two-year span, Tammy only paid $5,526.87 of the court’s $200,478.96 amended order she owed to Holland.

In May 2019, Holland sued in the Lawrence Circuit Court alleging that the Ketchams had fraudulently transferred $200,000 in cash into the Bedford property in violation of Indiana’s Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act.

Among other things, the trial court found Jason was not a debtor to Holland under the dissolution decree and that Holland had “failed to meet his burden of establishing sufficient indicia of intent to defraud.”

But in reversing that decision, the Court of Appeals found that the evidentiary submissions demonstrated Tammy did have the actual intent to hinder, delay, or defraud Holland’s right to payment under the dissolution decree.

The COA found several of the statutory and common law factors fell strongly in Holland’s favor. Among those, it disagreed with the trial court’s assessment that Tammy did not retain control over the value of the $200,000 when she converted it from cash into equity in the Bedford property. It also shook its head at the conclusion that the dissolution decree had “just been issued” and “had just outlined the marital property.”

The COA concluded that statements Tammy made in her answer to Holland’s complaint demonstrated her intent to make it more difficult for Holland to collect on his judgment and that she intended to remove or conceal the cash by exempting it from a legal process for Holland to recover it.

It further found that “the value of the consideration received” by Tammy from Jason was not “reasonably equivalent to the value of the asset transferred” and that it was effectively a transfer of property between family members.

“In contrast, six factors are in Tammy’s favor, but each of those factors is mitigated because they are also consistent on these facts with a showing of actual intent to defraud. Considering the force and effect of the factors as a whole, we hold that the evidentiary submissions demonstrate a pattern of fraudulent intent by Tammy,” Judge Paul D. Mathias wrote for the COA.

Additionally, the COA noted that the trial court erred when it entered judgment for Jason on the ground he was not a debtor to Holland, considering the evidentiary submissions and Holland’s claim of civil conspiracy against Jason.

“We conclude that the trial court retains discretion to fashion an appropriate remedy in the first instance,” Mathias wrote. “Therefore, we remand with instructions that the trial court issue, immediately and without delay, an injunction that prohibits the Ketchams from transferring the Bedford property while the court determines the appropriate remedy for Holland.

The case is Kelly Holland v. Tammy M. Ketcham and Jason W. Ketcham, 21A-CT-1708.

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