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Smith v. Smith

Court of Appeals of Indiana

November 22, 2019

Patricia J. Smith, Appellant-Respondent,
v.
Christopher M. Smith, Appellee-Petitioner.

          Appeal from the Tipton Circuit Court The Honorable Thomas R. Lett, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 80C01-1409-DR-290

          Attorney for Appellant Joel K. Stein Lynn and Stein, P.C. Wabash, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Katherine A. Harmon Jared S. Sunday Mallor Grodner, LLP Indianapolis, Indiana

          MATHIAS, JUDGE

         [¶1] Patricia Smith ("Wife") appeals the Tipton Circuit Court's dissolution order dividing the parties' marital estate. Specifically, she raises four issues, which we consolidate and restate as:

I. Whether the trial court abused its discretion when it denied Wife's motion to continue the final hearing,
II. Whether the trial court abused its discretion when it awarded approximately seventy-five percent of the marital estate to Christopher Smith ("Husband"), and,
III. Whether the trial court abused its discretion when it assigned any net carryover losses to Husband to offset future tax liabilities.

         [¶2] We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶3] Husband and Wife were married in October 2009. Husband is a PGA golfer, and both parties brought significant assets to the marriage. The parties resided in Husband's residence, which he owned prior to the marriage. Husband owned a residence, PGA pension accounts, and approximately $1, 700, 000 in additional assets on the date the parties were married. Wife had assets prior to the marriage in the form of stocks, retirement accounts, insurance policies, and luxury vehicles. These assets were sold during the marriage for approximately $900, 000.

         [¶4] During the marriage, the parties spent nearly $500, 000 to renovate and remodel the marital residence. The parties also had no income during certain periods of their marriage.

         [¶5] The parties owned two businesses: SmartView Imaging and One Five Group. The parties invested approximately $450, 000 in SmartView Imaging. The business was not successful. One Five Group was formed to manage Husband's golf career. Husband's golf career was not profitable during the course of the marriage.

         [¶6] On the date the marriage ended, the parties had significant credit card debt, a home-equity line of credit, and loans totaling over $350, 000. The only remaining assets with significant value were the marital residence and Husband's PGA retirement account. Husband also had an unvested pension with the PGA.

         [¶7] Husband filed a petition to dissolve the parties' marriage on September 8, 2014, and Wife filed a counter-petition on December 5, 2014. During the dissolution proceedings, Wife filed seven motions to continue the final hearing, and six of those were filed after August 2016. Husband objected to several of the requests to continue, including the last two motions.

         [¶8] The final hearing was ultimately set for February 15, 2018.[1] Two weeks prior to the final hearing, Wife's attorney filed a motion to withdraw his appearance, which the trial court granted. Wife attempted to find a new attorney but was not successful. She filed her seventh motion to continue the final hearing so that she would have more time to find a new attorney. Husband objected to the motion, and Wife's motion was denied on February 9, 2018. Wife appeared without counsel at the February 15, 2018 final hearing.

         [¶9] On August 23, 2018, the trial court issued findings of fact and conclusions of law dividing the marital estate. In pertinent part, the trial court found:

11. The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the property, regardless of whether the contribution was income producing favors a balancing of the factors in favor of Husband.
12. The extent to which the property was acquired by each spouse prior to the marriage or through inheritance or gift favors a balancing of the factors in favor of Husband, as does the conduct of the Parties during the marriage as related to the disposition or dissipation of their property[.]
13. At the time of the parties' marriage, Husband owned the home located at 208 South Bellerive in Peru Indiana, as well as the property located at 8250 West Blair Pike in Peru Indiana. Husband owned the Bellerive property with his deceased wife and owned the Blair Pike property in his individual name.
14. Per John Oldfather, appraiser, the value of the Bellerive property did not vary significantly from the time the parties were married until the time the petition for dissolution of marriage was filed.
15. Additionally, Husband brought into the marriage investment accounts for his children worth $617, 000. These accounts were completely depleted during the marriage to satisfy marital expenses and to assist Wife in starting a company, Smartview Imaging.
16. Husband also brought into the marriage various investment accounts, including a pension with the PGA.
17. Husband also received $504, 000 during the marriage from the sale of a family owned business, Rock Industries.
18. Per Dick Hammond, the parties' accountant, as illustrated in an exhibit which was submitted to the court, Husband brought over $1.7 million into the marriage to Wife.
19. While Wife brought some money into the marriage, she did not demonstrate to the Court the amount of the same.
20. Additionally, Wife failed to pay the car loan on the parties' Mercedes Benz, causing Husband to be sued. She also sold the equipment related to Smartview Imaging, receiving $25, 000 for the same, but failed to put those proceeds towards paying off the loan associated with the equipment. As a result, Husband ...

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