Saturday, February 6, 2010

New Indiana Court of Appeals Decision - Paying off a Marital Debt

Husband was to pay $9,000.00 in installments to wife, husband does pay as ordered but instead starts paying out of a pension payment, and then stopped those payments after paying $7,502.66. (Marriage of Hurt, pages 2 -4). Apparently, they lived together after the divorce.

At a contempt hearing, the parties disputed whether the money sent by husband to wife was meant to pay off the judgment.

Problems for the husband:

  1. The parties seemingly forgot that there was a court order and decided to do their own thing.
  2. Because of 1, husband never got an explicit agreement that his payments wee against the judgment; and
  3. Husband never got a satisfaction of judgment which would have put an end to everything.
The Indiana Court of Appeals put it this way:
Here, the record reveals that during 2007 when the funds were being directed into
Wife’s accounts, Husband and Wife had reunited, and they were paying bills jointly.
During this time period, Husband was not receiving any additional disbursements from his pension. Wife used much of the funds paid to her on joint expenses, including paying for auto insurance on Husband’s truck and for a life insurance policy insuring Husband’s life. Wife also spent the funds on food, hardware, utilities, and trips to the drug store which benefitted both Husband and Wife. Also, Wife testified at the hearing that the reason for the pension funds being directed into accounts solely in her name was so the funds would not “show up in [Husband’s] account while he was doing the bankruptcy.” Transcript at 13. Also, in January 2008, soon after Husband and Wife again separated, Husband redirected the monthly payments from his pension to pay to an account in Husband’s name, and to stop all payments to Wife’s accounts. As Husband attested to at the hearing, however, he never filed, nor requested that Wife file, a satisfaction of the judgment.
(Opinion at 8 -9).

Recently, I have seen a few cases where people decided that the court's Orders did not apply to them for some reason known only to them. Think more along the lines obliviousness than something more malevolent. This case seems to fit in this pattern.

Remember that whether your case is a divorce or paternity case, your life is now joined with the court and its Orders. Do not follow those Orders at your peril.

One last thing, if the issue in your head was the value of a lawyer then think about this: husband has still to pay $9,000.00 to wife after he thought she was paid off plus paying for trial and appellate counsel. How much would have calling his lawyer before he started making payments have saved him? My guess is $15,000.00. And probably whole lot less frustration.

1 comment:

Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates said...

Sam-It is so difficult for me to get people to see paying for "advice" as an investment. I was reading this case Friday and thought the same things as you. A few hundred dollars of advice can save many thousands later. Cheers-Stu