Division III - Intimate Relationship Need Not be Pleaded in Marriage Dissolution Proceeding
Divorces are never fun.
Husband and Wife had been living together since 1998. Husband bought a house in his own name. They later got married. The divorce comes about, and in the petition, Wife lists they had been married since 2005. In her amended petition right before trial, she adds a sentence stating they had been in an intimate committed relationship since 1998.
The trial court prevented her from admitting evidence of the relationship prior to 2005, and thus classified the house (and lots of other stuff) as personal property. But that’s not the test, according to the court of appeals:
The trial judge accepted Mr. Neumiller's argument that the committed intimate relationship claim was raised too late by the amended pleading. This argument implicitly assumed that the existence of a committed intimate relationship needed to be pleaded before the trial court could consider its existence. While that certainly must be the case when a proceeding is instituted to distribute property acquired during a committed intimate relationship, we do not believe that it needs to be pleaded when it is merely an evidentiary fact in a marriage dissolution proceeding. Like any evidence, or theory of a case, it typically would be disclosed in pre-trial discovery, but evidence does not need to be included in the pleadings before it is admissible at trial.
The Court did point out that, of course, the pleading of a committed intimate relationship is needed when pleading a meretricious relationship without a marriage, but it is simply evidence within a marriage dissolution proceeding.