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Indiana Family Law Case Update: One party in cohabitation relationship entitled to partition of farm

by | May 21, 2021 | Property division

Thomas R. Fox v. Judith Ann Barker (May 17, 2021)

Held: One party to a long-term cohabitation relationship was entitled to the partition of a farm, which the parties acquired as tenants in common during the relationship.

Facts and Procedural History

Fox and Barker lived together for 10 years. Several years into the relationship, Fox purchased a 99-acre farm and, as part of the transaction, the farm was deed to Fox and Barker as tenants in common.

Fourteen years later—and eight years after the parties had split up—Barker sued to partition the property. Barker was granted partial summary judgment that Barker and Fox were tenants in common, and that Barker is entitled to an equal share of the farm, less any appropriate equitable adjustment by a jury. Fox appealed.

Fox made various arguments on appeal, including that the deed represented an incomplete gift, that there was a previous settlement agreement between the parties—which Fox says he has since lost—that resolved the matter, and that Barker was equitably estopped from the partition.

The Court of Appeals rejected each of these arguments by Fox. The trial court’s grant of partial summary judgment for partition in Barker’s favor was affirmed.

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James Reed and Michael Kohlhaas 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. Cross Glazier Reed Burroughs, PC is the premiere boutique family law firm in the state of Indiana.