Nebraska Supreme Court says ministry assets must be divided in divorce

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2002

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- Cars, real estate and other property bought by an Omaha pastor in the name of his ministry must be included in his ex-wife's divorce settlement, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled.

A lower court judge had questioned the legitimacy of Union Oaks Ministry but said its status as a religious nonprofit barred the minister from awarding any of its assets to the wife.

The high court overturned that ruling April 12, saying the Rev. Melvin ''Buddy'' Medlock could not hide behind the church's nonprofit status to keep property from his ex-wife.

''When a corporation is or becomes the mere alter ego, or business conduit of a person, it may be disregarded,'' said Judge John Gerrard. ''The record shows Union Oaks to be the alter ego of Buddy and that Union Oaks' assets should be included in the marital estate.''

Medlock's attorney, Amy Geren, did not comment.

Medlock testified he taught Bible classes and did missionary work. However, court records showed little evidence he engaged in a religious ministry.

Union Oaks held assets of more than $1.3 million, including 10 cars and a motorcycle, according to court documents.

Medlock's wife, Linda, was left virtually penniless after their 1997 divorce.

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