from the Fountain Circuit Court The Honorable Samuel A.
Swaim, Special Judge Trial Court Cause No. 23C01-1411-DR-332
Attorney for Appellants Karen Celestino-Horseman Of Counsel,
Austin & Jones, P.C. Indianapolis, Indiana
Attorney for Appellee Stephen R. Lewis Indianapolis, Indiana
VAIDIK, CHIEF JUDGE
Raul Hernandez-Velazquez ("Husband"), Modesto
Hernandez, and Elizabeth Barcaleta Santiago (collectively,
"Appellants") appeal the trial court's order
requiring the conveyances of certain properties to Sondra
Hernandez ("Wife") to effectuate the division of
marital assets in Husband and Wife's divorce.
Specifically, Appellants argue that the trial court erred in
finding that Wife is a creditor under the Uniform Fraudulent
Transfer Act (UFTA), by finding that Husband conveyed several
properties to Elizabeth shortly before the divorce with the
intent to defraud Wife, and by setting aside those
conveyances. Because the evidence supports the trial
court's finding that Wife is a creditor u er UFTA and
that Husband's intent was fraudulent, we affirm.
and Procedural History
Husband and Wife were married in August 2001. Wife is a
United States citizen. Husband is a citizen of Mexico and
resides in the United States without proper documentation.
Husband worked from approximately 2001 to 2005 at Lithonia
Lighting and then at Harrison Steel from 2005 to 2008. For
her part, Wife worked as a translator on a contract basis for
the Southeast Fountain School Corporation and Fountain
Circuit Court. She also babysat occasionally but was
primarily focused on raising her and Husband's four
children: S.H., born in May 2002, A.H., born in January 2006,
and twins, I.H. and M.H., born in April 2008. To afford their
daily living expenses, the family applied for and received
government benefits, such as housing assistance, food stamps,
Husband's brother, Modesto, was close to the family
throughout the marriage. Modesto is also a citizen of Mexico
and resides in the United States without proper
documentation. Although they have never been married, Modesto
has been in a relationship with Elizabeth, also a citizen of
Mexico, for more than thirty years, and together they have
three children. Since Modesto arrived in the United States in
1999, without Elizabeth, he has worked for Masterguard,
Perdue, Harrison Steel, and Closure Systems International. He
also mows lawns whenever he can. In September 2005, Husband
and Modesto decided to buy and renovate a foreclosed house at
317 Harrison Street in Crawfordsville. The brothers bought
the house for $11, 000 cash, with Modesto putting $9, 600
toward the purchase price and Husband providing the rest and
doing the renovations. See Tr. Vol. III p. 99. The
house was titled and insured in Husband's name. After
renovations were complete, 317 Harrison Street was rented for
$600 a month. Tr. Vol. II p. 24; see also Ex. 12.
Wife was responsible for collecting rent and paying property
taxes. In June 2006, Husband and Modesto decided to buy and
renovate another house, this one located at 316 W.Van Buren
Street in Veedersburg. The brothers bought the house for $18,
000 cash. See Ex. 36. The house was titled and
insured in Husband's name. This house was Husband and
Wife's marital home through the remainder of the
After Husband was fired from Harrison Steel in 2008, he and
Wife started a business-Sorani Construction and
Remodeling-that would buy foreclosed homes, fix them up, and
then rent or sell them. Tr. Vol. II p. 15. In January 2010,
Husband decided to buy and renovate a foreclosed duplex at
115 N. Walnut Street in Crawfordsville. The duplex was
purchased for $10, 500 cash and was titled and insured in
Husband's name. After renovations were complete, each
unit at 115 N. Walnut Street was rented for $400 a month. Ex.
27. Wife was responsible for collecting rent, and Sorani
Construction paid the property taxes. In March 2010, Husband
decided to buy and renovate a foreclosed house at 821 N.
Sherman Street in Veedersburg. The purchase price of the
house was $9, 000 and was paid for by a cashier's check
in Husband's name. The house was titled and insured in
Husband's name. After renovations were complete, 821 N.
Sherman Street was rented for $425 a month. See Ex.
48. Wife was responsible for collecting rent, and Husband
paid the property taxes. In May, Husband and Modesto decided
to buy a house located at 415 W. North Street in
Crawfordsville. The brothers bought the house for $6, 000
cash, with Modesto putting $5, 348.24 toward the purchase
price and Husband providing the rest and doing the
renovations. The house was titled in Modesto's name, and
Sorani Construction paid the property taxes.
Two years later, in November 2012, Modesto married Wife's
aunt, Penny Stonebraker. The marriage was part of
Modesto's attempt to acquire lawful permanent resident
status. Tr. Vol. II p. 140.
In May 2013, Husband decided to buy and renovate a foreclosed
house at 404 S. Grace Street in Crawfordsville. The purchase
price of the house was $8, 500 and was paid for by a
cashier's check in Husband's name. Tr. Vol. II p. 43;
see also Ex. 31. The house was titled and insured in
Husband's name. After renovations were complete, 404 S.
Grace Street was rented for $650 a month. Wife was
responsible for collecting rent, and Sorani Construction paid
the property taxes. In December, the brothers became worried
that if Modesto divorced Penny, she could get the house
located at 415 W. North Street, so Modesto transferred
ownership of 415 W. North Street to Husband. Tr. Vol. II p.
32. Husband did not pay Modesto any money in exchange for the
transfer. In February 2014, Husband sold 415 W. North Street
to Jesus Trevino and Maria Magdalena under a rent-to-own
arrangement. Ex. 17. The monthly payments are $680 a month.
Tr. Vol. II p. 35.
In April, Husband decided to buy and renovate a house at 515
Chambers Street in Veedersburg. He purchased the house for
$19, 500 cash, and it was titled and insured in his name. In
September, while Modesto was still married to Penny, his
partner, Elizabeth, arrived in the United States. Elizabeth
arrived without proper documentation. Husband and Wife
traveled to Texas to pick up Elizabeth, and after they
returned to Indiana, their marriage began to deteriorate.
Husband told Wife that she needed to show Elizabeth how to
collect rent and issue receipts because Elizabeth would now
do that job instead of Wife. Tr. Vol. III pp. 13-14. Husband
also had Wife type a document saying that they owed Modesto
$51, 500. Id. at 133. Both Husband and Wife signed
the document. Then on October 13, Husband conveyed all the
properties titled in his name to Elizabeth for ten dollars.
Tr. Vol. II p. 17; see also Exs. 1, 2. Less than a
month later, Wife requested a protective order, alleging that
Husband had committed two acts of domestic violence against
her-first on October 24 and then again on November 12. Wife
then filed a petition for dissolution of marriage on November
In May 2016, the trial court entered its findings of fact and
conclusions of law and decree of dissolution. See
Appellant's App. Vol. II p. 12. Both parties filed
motions to correct errors, and the trial court entered an
agreed order vacating the property-division portion of the
trial court's May 2016 order. A special judge was
appointed to resolve the property-division issue.
In July 2017, Wife filed an amended petition for dissolution
of marriage, alleging that Husband "made the conveyances
[to Elizabeth] with the intent to hinder, delay, and defraud
creditors, including Wife, to protect and preserve the real
property for Husband's own use and benefit, and to
prevent and hinder Wife from collecting and receiving, . . .
the amount due Wife in this dissolution of marriage
action." Appellant's App. Vol. II p. 84. Wife did
not cite UFTA in her amended petition, but she used language
found in the statute, which provides, in relevant part:
A transfer made or an obligation incurred by a debtor is
voidable as to a creditor, whether the creditor's claim
arose before or after the transfer was made or the obligation
was incurred, if the debtor made the transfer or incurred the
(1) with actual intent to hinder, delay, or defraud any
creditor of the debtor; or
(2) without receiving a reasonably equivalent value in
exchange for the transfer or obligation, and the debtor:
(A) was engaged or was about to engage in a business or a
transaction for which the remaining assets of the debtor were
unreasonably small in relation to the business or
(B) intended to incur or believed or reasonably should have
believed that the debtor would incur debts beyond the
debtor's ability to pay as the debts became due.
Ind. Code § 32-18-2-14. UFTA defines a
"debtor" as "a person that is liable on a
claim," Ind. Code § 32-18-2-2, and a
"creditor" as "a person that has a