Family Law Case Review: C. Banks v. T. Banks

Case: Christine Banks v. Timothy R. Banks
by Mike Kohlhaas, Bingham Greenebaum Doll

Trial court acted within its discretion in reducing Husband’s incapacity-based maintenance obligation to Wife based upon the deterioration of Husband’s financial condition, and even though Wife’s health problems had not improved.

Husband and Wife divorced in 2000. At the time, Husband was earning approximately $50,000 per year, while Wife was suffering chronic kidney disease that had required a kidney transplant and continued dialysis. The decree included an incapacity-based spousal maintenance award, from Husband to Wife, of $500 per month.

Husband made multiple subsequent efforts to modify his spousal maintenance obligation, which were denied by the trial court. However, after a motion filed by Husband in 2011, the trial court held a hearing at which Husband presented evidence that he had lost his job after getting sick and exhausting all of his medical leave time, that he and his new wife had filed bankruptcy, and that their household income had declined substantially. After the hearing, the trial court entered an order reducing Husband’s maintenance obligation from $500/mo to $173/mo. Wife appealed.

On appeal, Wife argued that it was error as a matter of law for the trial court to reduce Husband’s maintenance obligation in the absence of evidence that Wife’s health had improved. The Court of Appeals noted that this standard stated by Wife was incorrect, and that the ability of the payor spouse to pay maintenance, on its own, was an appropriate factor for the trial court’s consideration in both establishing and modifying spousal maintenance.

The Court of Appeals concluded that the record included substantial evidence that, due to circumstances beyond Husband’s control, his financial situation had deteriorated substantially since the divorce. Thus, the trial court’s reduction of his maintenance obligation was within its discretion.

The trial court’s order was affirmed.

To view the text of this opinion in its entirety, click here: Christine Banks v. Timothy R. Banks

The Indiana Family Law Update is a free service provided by the Matrimonial Law Group of Bingham Greenebaum Doll, LLP. While significant efforts are made to ensure an accurate summary and reproduction of each opinion, readers are advised to verify all content and analysis with a traditional case law reporter before relying on the content and analysis offered here.

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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