Monday, April 20, 2009

Indiana Case Law: Divorce, Property Division and Judgment Liens

Going back to 1993 for Penix v. Hicks, 618 N.E.2d 1346 (Ind.App. 3 Dist.,1993) wherein the Indiana Court of Appeals decides that a judgment regarding divorce property only creates a judgment lien.

Here are the facts:

On April 22, 1983 the court entered judgment dissolving the marriage of appellant Penix and Charles Hicks. The judgment awarded certain tenancy-by-the-entireties real estate to Charles and awarded to Penix judgment against him for $12,300 with interest thereon until paid at the rate of 12% per annum. This judgment was entered on the judgment docket.

In May 1985, Penix filed a motion seeking a declaration as to whether the money judgment in her favor represented a “secured lien interest” against the real estate of Charles. The court's commissioner determined that it did not and in November 1992 the court issued its order ratifying and approving the commissioner's determination.

618 N.E.2d at 1347. The lien was not a lien under IC 31-1-11.5-15 (what is now IC 31-15-7-8) and so was just a judgment lien. That did not give any special protection to the holder of the judgment.

What to do? Take a look at IC 31-15-7-8 and use it instead of relying on the judgment lien statute. The Penix case points out that use of this statute makes the lien a special lien that gets paid before a judgment lien.

Further, my reading of White v. White, 819 N.E.2d 68, 70 (Ind.App.,2004) (Word format) leads me to the conclusion that this statute applies also to settlements. See page 4 of the slip opinion and especially footnote 2.

I will be discussing IC 31-15-7-8 over the next few days.

Remember, if you want more information about retaining me for a case, please give me a call at 765-641-7906.

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