The business of dividing property, deciding child custody and support payments and parsing out details of a decades-olhandholdingd prenuptial agreement can be messy. When two people have built a life together, it can be difficult trying to untangle all the strings as fairly and painlessly as possible.

The case of Carmer v. Carmer, recently before the Indiana Court of Appeals, is one such example. This was a case in which a couple married for more than 20 years was separating after purchasing two homes together, having three children and in the midst of preparing to adopt two more. There was a premarital agreement on the table, but there was dispute about how it should be interpreted. There was also contention as to whether husband’s monthly annuities – received as compensation stemming from a personal injury lawsuit – should be factored into the child support schedule.

Just as every marriage is different, so too is every divorce and every divorce agreement. It’s imperative throughout the process to have an experienced divorce attorney advocating on your behalf and for the best interests of your children. Continue reading

Indiana law requires an equitable division of property in a divorce. However, “equitable” does not mean “equal,” and it can be difficult for courts to divide property when separate and marital property is

Marital property is that which is acquired during marriage, while separate property is what a spouse owns prior to marriage or acquires by gift or inheritance during the marriage. Even so, a judge has the discretion to divide the couple’s property in any way that seems fair, regardless of when it was acquired or who actually owns it. Commingling happens when separate and marital property is mixed.

Factors that may be considered when dividing a couple’s property unequally would be:

  • Economic situation of each spouse;
  • Each spouse’s current earnings or earning potential;
  • Conduct that resulted in dissipation or loss of property;
  • Each spouse’s contributions to property acquisition or income.

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monopolyWhen family courts are weighing how much a parent should pay in child support, they doesn’t simply look at each party’s pay stubs. Typically, the courts conduct a detailed analysis that includes consideration of:

  • Salaries and wages
  • Income from overtime and second jobs
  • Investment and interest income
  • Pension income
  • Trust or estate income
  • Annuities
  • Capital gains
  • Social Security benefits
  • Veterans’ benefits
  • Military personnel fringe benefits
  • National Reserve and drill pay
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Unemployment
  • Disability insurance benefits
  • Prizes and gifts (including gambling and lottery winnings)
  • Income of a new spouse
  • Alimony received from another
  • Real estate income

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Per the 2002 Indiana Supreme Court case of In re Guardianship of B.H., family courts in this state operate with the strong presumption that a child’s interests are best served by being placed with his or her natural parent. When third parties seek to intervene in custody proceedings to acquire custody, it is the third party that bears the burden of proof in the case. familysilouette

This is true even when natural parents initiate an action to re-obtain custody of a child. In those situations, the burden of proof doesn’t automatically shift back to the parent. Instead, it’s always on the third party. Parents and third parties aren’t, as the courts have held, on a “level playing field” when it comes to custody. Parents will always have the upper hand.

However, this does not mean parents don’t lose these cases. In fact, it happens all the time and it’s often the result of being unprepared for hearings and trials – including failing to adhere to court recommendations and guidelines from previous hearings. Continue reading

In Indiana, marital property is commonly referred to as a “marital pot.” It is all the assets and liabilities a couple shares in the course of their marriage. When they are divorced, in essence everything gets poured into a “pot,” and it’s up to the court to decide the best way to equitably divide it all. pot

There is a legal presumption under Indiana law that property will be divided equally (50/50). However, parties can overcome that presumption by rebutting it with evidence to show why there should be a deviation. The goal isn’t always totally equal division, but rather equitable (fair) division in light of the circumstances.

Division of property is often one of the most contentious aspects of any divorce, and it’s one that often makes it to the appellate courts when one or both parties disagree with trial judge’s ruling. Such was the case in Carie v. Carie, recently before the Indiana Court of Appeals. Continue reading

When the adultery-promoting website Ashley Madison was hacked last month, the personal account information of millions of current and former site users was released. According to the Indy Star, it appears a number of email domains listed on the spouse-cheating site were .gov domains linked to city accounts in Indiana, Carmel and Greenwood, as well as to the Indiana State Police and the Indiana Department of Correction. kisslips

Officials were careful to caution that the appearance of those emails doesn’t necessarily mean anyone signed up for the service using their work email, but an investigation was being launched nonetheless. It’s not so much a moral issue, they say, as a potential violation of government email use policy.

But whether having an account tied to the site that encourages affairs causes workers trouble with their employer, it may not have a direct effect on one’s divorce. That’s because Indiana is a no-fault state when it comes to divorce. Continue reading

Fall is about to arrive in Northwest Indiana and the Chicago Area.  I have previously blogged concerning safety tips for bicyclists and believe that with the change in seasons that this is a good time to do so, once again.  Those of us who are bicyclists need to take extra precautions as daylight decreases and the need to be observant and observed increases.

In fact, a study published tin the September 1, 2015 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association and cited in a recent Science Daily posting indicates that bicycle injuries during the 15 year period from 1998 through 2013 increased substantially. Continue reading

The Indiana Supreme Court was asked to consider whether the trial court abused its discretion in granting child visitation to maternal grandparents after their daughter – the child’s mother – passed away.
In re: The visitation of L.- A.D.W., the state high court ruled visitation in this case was appropriate, even if it went against the father’s wishes to more strictly control such interactions. The court considered the best interests of the child in reaching its conclusion.

Although grandparents in Indiana face significant hurdles in obtaining visitation if it is against the express wishes of the parents, a strong argument can often be made where the bond is especially strong and/or when one of the parents has died.

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When a court in Indiana issues a dissolution of marriage, it approves the divorce agreement as reached either by both parties through mediation or by the court following litigation or some combination of both.
These agreements encompass everything from child support and parenting time to division of property and spousal maintenance (also sometimes referred to as spousal support). These orders are final, and the only way they can be modified is through a request from the court for modification on the basis of a material change in circumstance.

In weighing recently a request for modification in Pohl v. Pohl, the Indiana Supreme Court noted the precedent for such action was established nearly 20 years ago in Voigt v. Voigt. The court recognized in that prohibition of modification of maintenance agreements may produce harsh results, but it is generally to be recognized unless the agreement so provides. Continue reading

Many people facing a divorce are hyper-focused on the here and now. And sometimes, it really is best to take things one day at a time. handscompassion1.jpg

Your divorce attorney, on the other hand, should be looking at your long-term well-being. That means figuring out a plan for division of assets, debts and benefits to sustain you not just over the next several months, but over years and even decades.

Even if a couple is not near retirement age, benefits accrued during the marriage are subject to division and must be carefully considered, just as one would weigh houses and other real estate. In fact, retirement benefits may actually be the largest asset a couple has between them.

Putting off the issue of retirement benefits or refusing to address them can be a big mistake. It’s important to understand that while divorce in Indiana calls for equitable division of assets, that does not always mean equal. Further, these funds are not automatically split in a divorce.
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