In a dissolution or divorce proceeding, it is well-settled law in Indiana that all martial property goes into the marital pot and is subject to division between the former spouses. The proper division is presumed to be 50/50.
A prime, not obvious, example of this principle is illustrated in the recent Indiana Court of Appeals decision In Re The Marriage of Quinn. On appeal, the distribution of property was challenged. The wife argued that the trial court erred in not including the entirety of husband’s pension in the marital pot. The trial court only divided a part of the value of the husband’s pension.
“Here, Father had a $234,956.32 pension plan at the time of the dissolution-$98,498.32 was earned before the marriage and $136,458.00 was earned during the marriage. The trial court included the $136,458.00 in the net marital estate, which was valued and distributed to the parties. However, although the trial court’s order mentioned that the $98,498.32 portion of the pension earned before the marriage was part of the marital estate, the trial court did not include that amount when it listed the pension asset and valuation in the net marital estate for distribution.”
The Court of Appeals determined that the trial court “failed to include the total value of Father’s pension in the net marital estate for distribution.” Therefore, even property that the husband obtained prior to his marriage, that is, the “$98,498.32 was earned before the marriage”, should have been included.
The decision is in accordance with both Indiana statute and case law. Marital property should be included whether it was owned by either spouse before the marriage, acquired by either spouse in his or her own right, or acquired by their joint efforts. See Ind. Code § 31-15-7-4(a). Marital property means “all the assets of either party or both parties.” Ind. Code § 31-9-2-98.
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