Family Law Blog: Trial Court Properly Refused to Set Aside Divorce Decree

Case: Parviz Jahangirizadeh v. Fatemeh Pazouki

by Mike Kohlhaas, Bingham Greenebaum Doll

HELD: Trial court properly refused to set aside divorce decree, six years after it was issued, based upon allegations by Husband that Wife failed to disclose marital assets.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
Wife filed for dissolution in 2007. Prior to a final hearing, Wife filed a financial declaration listing various assets. In 2008, the trial court issued a decree that divided the marital estate, and required a property equalization payment from Husband, to Wife, in the amount of approximately $57,000.

Six years later, in 2014, Husband filed a motion to set aside the Decree. The motion alleged that, a month after the Decree was issued, Wife opened a bank account with an initial deposit of $50,000, which Husband reasoned could not have been done without Wife failing to disclose all of her assets in her financial declaration.

Wife moved to dismiss, arguing that the motion to set aside was untimely under Trial Rule 60(B)(3). The trial court agreed, and dismissed Husband’s petition with prejudice. Husband then filed a motion to reconsider, which referenced recent litigation in a California court between Wife and her brother, in which the California order concluded that Wife “was not a credible witness and lied on the witness stand….”

The trial court denied Husband’s motion to reconsider, from which Husband appealed.

The Court of Appeals reviewed Trial Rule 60(B)(3),  noting that a motion based upon fraud generally needs to be filed within one year, but there is also a “savings clause” that gives the court the authority to entertain an independent action arising from fraud after a year has passed.

Reviewing all of Husband’s options with regard to his fraud assertion, the Court of Appeals concluded that, assuming all of Husband’s assertions to be true, at most, Wife had engaged in “ordinary” fraud by not disclosing all of her assets. Only extraordinarily egregious cases of fraud (e.g., a showing of intentional misconduct, a direct assault on the integrity of the judicial process, etc.) allow a party to circumvent the one-year time limitation that generally applies to Trial Rule 60(B)(3).

The trial court’s denial of Husband’s motion to set aside the Decree was affirmed.

To view the text of this opinion in its entirety, click here: Parviz Jahangirizadeh v. Fatemeh Pazouki

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James A. Reed and Michael R. Kohlhaas of Bingham Greenebaum Doll represent clients in a wide spectrum of relationship transition and wealth planning matters, including premarital agreements, estate planning, cohabitation, separation, divorce (especially involving high net worth individuals and/or complex asset issues), custody, parenting arrangements, adoption, and domestic partnerships. Bingham Greenebaum Doll, a multidisciplinary law firm serving regional, national, and international clients, is the fourth-largest law firm in Indiana. The firm’s main practices include corporate, property, litigation, labor, government law, and personal services law. Visit the firm’s website at www.bgdlegal.com.

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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