Thursday, March 29, 2007

When can a court divide propertyunequally?

My lawerly answer is that depends on the facts of the case. I wrote on property division generally here. At the end, the trial court's division must be just and reasonable.

From the Indiana Court of Appeals opinion in 2006 of Maxwell v. Maxwell (in PDF format) citing to Fobar v. Vonderahe, 771 N.E.2d 57, 59 (Ind. 2002) (html format):

Additionally, simply because one appellate decision holds that a certain trial court’s division of property was reasonable does not mean that a similar division is required in another case with similar facts. See id. Instead, trial courts, in their discretion, may choose to distribute the marital property unequally in favor of one spouse based on statutorily identified considerations, one of which is inherited property. Id.
In Maxwell, the husband kept stock because he had them only a few months before the divorce.

In Fobar v. Vonderahe the Indiana Supreme Court wrote the following :
Even if some items meet the statutory criteria that may support an unequal division of the overall pot, the law does not require an unequal division if overall considerations render the total resolution just and equitable.
While an unpublished case and therefore cannot be used as precedent, the Indiana Court of Appeals' opinion in Riggs v. Riggs (2006) (html format) shows the importance of the facts established by evidence in property divisions.

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