Marital Estate Divided 97% / 3% in Favor of Husband

Case: In re the Marriage of: Jose de Jesus Carrillo Perez and Maria Guadalupe Carrillo Perez, Maria Guadalupe Vidrios Zepeda f/k/a Maria Guadalupe Carrillo Perez v. Jose de Jesus Carrillo Perez 
by Mike Kohlhaas, Bingham Greenebaum Doll

HELD: Trial court acted within its discretion when it divided a marital estate more than 97 / 3% in favor of Husband, where the evidence established that almost the entire marital estate consisted of Husband’s lottery winnings, which Husband acquired well after the parties had physically separated and were living entirely separate lives, even though neither of them had filed for legal separation or dissolution.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
Husband and Wife married in 2002. They physically separated in March 2006. While neither party filed for legal separation or divorce, for the following six years they did not live together, spoke only a few times, had completely separate finances, and lead separate lives.

In January 2011, Husband won $2,000,000 in the Hoosier Lottery, and filed for dissolution of marriage two months later.

The trial court’s decree provided that each party would keep his/her respective property and liabilities, except that Husband would pay Wife $50,000 out of his lottery distributions, pay $2,852 of Wife’s attorneys fees, and assume $2,484 of Wife’s debts. Wife appealed.

It appeared uncontroverted that the lottery winnings were “marital property” as a matter of Indiana law. However, the Court of Appeals concluded it was within the trial court’s discretion to deviate so heavily in Husband’s favor in light of the lengthy estrangement during which the lottery winnings were acquired.

On appeal, Wife also advanced a second argument, that Husband failed to respond to a Request for Admission that a distribution of 70% of the lottery money to Wife would be “a fair and equitable distribution” of the marital estate. While the Court of Appeals agreed the request was deemed admitted by operation of law, the way the admission was worded – that suggested division was “a fair and equitable division,” not “the only fair and equitable division” – the trial court remained free to consider other fair and equitable divisions of the marital estate, including the one it decided upon.

The trial court’s Decree was affirmed.

To view the text of this opinion in its entirety, click here: In re the Marriage of: Jose de Jesus Carrillo Perez and Maria Guadalupe Carrillo Perez, Maria Guadalupe Vidrios Zepeda f/k/a Maria Guadalupe Carrillo Perez v. Jose de Jesus Carrillo Perez

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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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