Thursday, April 10, 2008

Follow Up on "Indiana Caselaw: New marital property division case"

I linked to the Indiana Lawyer Daily article about in my post Indiana Caselaw: New marital property division case. Having read Keown v. Keown, I am a bit surprised that this case went up on appeal but deciding on the general issue of costs when a court orders the marital home sold is a good thing.

I am surprised that there was an appeal when I read the amount of money being fought over: $6,285.20 for the costs of sale and $1,972 for the cost of repairs. How Indiana's appellate courts judge a trial court's judgment operates to uphold the trial court:

The trial court issued findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Indiana Trial Rule 52. Our standard of review thereon is well settled:

First, we determine whether the evidence supports the findings and second,
whether the findings support the judgment. In deference to the trial court's
proximity to the issues, we disturb the judgment only- where there is no
evidence supporting the findings or the findings fail to support the
judgment. We do not reweigh the evidence, hut consider only the evidence
favorable to the trial court's judgment. Challengers must establish that the
trial court's findings are clearly erroneous. Findings are clearly erroneous
when a review of the record leaves us firmly convinced a mistake has been
made. However, while we defer substantially to findings of fact, we do not
do so to conclusions of law. Additionally, a judgment is clearly- erroneous
under Indiana Trial Rule 52 if it relies on an incorrect legal standard. We
evaluate questions of law de novo and owe no deference to a trial court's
determination of such questions.

Carmichael v. Siegel, 754 N.II.2d 619, 625 (Ind. Ct. App. 2001) (citations omitted).
Reading further into the opinion, one reads that husband coupled his argument about the amount of possible repairs and costs with an argument about wife not being required to sell the house. The Court of Appeals gave short shrift to that part of the husband's argument, too. (See page 5-6 of the opinion.)

These seem to be the important points from this part of the appeal:
  1. If the parties are to sell marital real estate, then make sure that the Decree says it is to be sold.
  2. If there are to be costs incurred when selling the marital real estate, then get those costs into the record - that means expert witnesses or uncontested dollar amounts.
  3. If the marital property needs repairs before the sale, then repeat #2.

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