Does my ex-wife’s remarriage affect the orders of the court to pay half of my pension?

Attorney Jason HopperQuestion:

I was ordered to pay my ex-wife half of my pension. Since the order was issued she has remarried. Should this judgment still stand?

 

Answer:

You have asked if the fact your former spouse has remarried affects the orders of the court to pay ½ of your pension.  The first place you should look is your Decree of Dissolution which would have been issued by the Court to finalize your dissolution, or your Property Settlement Agreement if you and your former spouse resolved your dissolution by an agreement.  Your Decree or Property Settlement Agreement may have language dealing with modifications of the orders, or the treatment of the pension payments.  It is important to make a distinction on if the payments are characterized as property equalization payments, or maintenance / spousal support / alimony payments.

If the payments are equalization payments, or payments ordered or agreed upon in order to effectuate an “equitable division” of marital assets and liabilities, it may be the case that you could be stuck with what you bargained for in your agreement.  Because the order is from 2006, your appellate options or “Motion to Reconsider” options under Indiana Trial Rule 59 have likely lapsed.  If the payments are equalization payments, your opportunity to modify the judgment would likely be limited to filing a Motion for Relief from Judgment, pursuant to Indiana Trial Rule 60.

Indiana Trial Rule 60 permits a judgment to be modified in instances of: clerical or excusable mistakes or surprises, excusable neglect, newly discovered evidence, faulty entry of a default judgment, incapacity, void or impossible judgments, or if it is no longer equitable for the judgment to have prospective application.  An argument could be made that due to the change in circumstances and your wife’s remarriage, that it is no longer “equitable” for her to receive ½ of your pension payments.

If the payments were maintenance / spousal support / alimony payments, you could petition the court to modify the post-dissolution maintenance obligation pointing to the fact that your former spouse has been rehabilitated or now has another person supporting her.

The best advice I can give is to seek out competent legal counsel to explore all of your legal options.  I would recommend that you seek out an attorney who limits their practice exclusively to domestic litigation, such as the attorneys at Cordell & Cordell.  Although I practice law in Indiana, I cannot give you legal advice without thoroughly reviewing your case. Do not rely on this information as establishing an attorney-client relationship. Contact an attorney immediately for assistance. Cordell & Cordell, P.C. does represent clients in Indiana.

Jason P. Hopper is an Associate Attorney in the Indianapolis, Indiana office of Cordell & Cordell where his primary practice is exclusively in the area of domestic relations. Mr. Hopper is licensed in the state of Indiana – All State and Appellate courts, US District Court Northern District Indiana, US District Court Southern District Indiana, US Bankruptcy Court Southern District Indiana.

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