Bogner v. Bogner - Indiana Appeals Court Weighs Child Support Change

October 20, 2014

Changes in Indiana child support payments are only going to be made in circumstances where the court has held there has been a substantial change in condition and it's in the best interest of the child or children involved.
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Deviation from the Indiana Child Support Guidelines also generally isn't done without good cause. Of course, there are always exceptions. Whether you're the one requesting the change or trying to fight it off, an experienced family law attorney can help.

The recent case of Bogner v. Bogner before the Court of Appeals of Indiana reveals how one such battle played out.

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Hardman v. Hardman - Allocation of Child Tuition Expenses in Divorce Settlement

October 10, 2014

Most parents want to ensure their children have the best possible chance of success as an independent adult, and that means having a solid education. However, there are many varying schools of thought about what a good education looks like - and how much it costs. so.jpg

In matters of divorce, disputes about education (specifically the funding) can become especially heated. The cost of private school can be as much annually as college tuition. And while most parents aren't legally obligated to pay for either private school or college tuition for their children, that could change in the midst of a divorce.

Increasingly, family courts are allowing for the enforcement of "reasonable" educational costs when one parent argues for it. The decision is typically based on both parents' income, the kind of education the child was receiving prior to the split and whether there is already a fund established.

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In re J.T. - Grandparent Visitation in Indiana a Long Shot

September 18, 2014

It's been 14 years since the U.S. Supreme Court's watershed ruling in a grandparent visitation dispute. In the years since, Indiana courts have still struggled to strike a balance between parental rights and the strong desire of grandparents to be a part of the children's lives.
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Indiana Code 31-17-5 details the circumstances under which a grandparent may seek visitation of a child. Primarily, these circumstances are when the child's parent has died, the child's parents are divorced or the child was born out of wedlock. The court does not permit paternal grandparent visitation where the child was born out of wedlock and paternity has not been established.

Our Gary child custody lawyers know that above all, the court is going to weigh the best interests of the child. Still, the U.S. Supreme Court's 2000 decision in Troxel v. Granville is considered guiding. Although at the time, many state courts were broadening the rights of grandparents to see their grandchildren, the Troxel case shifted the direction. There, the supreme court held that a Washington state law allowing "any person" to petition a family court for visitation rights was unconstitutional, as it violated a parent's 14th Amendment rights, interfering with a fit parent's right to raise their children as they deem best. The state, the court held, has no grounds to question the parent's decisions in raising those children.

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Balogh v. Balogh - Post-Nuptial Agreements Can Protect Property

September 3, 2014

By now, most people are familiar with the concept of pre-nuptial agreements. These are contracts signed before a couple recites their vows, and are typically intended to protect assets acquired by the individuals prior to the union.
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Less recognized, but no less formal before the courts, are post-nuptial agreements. These contracts are very similar, except that they occur after the marriage. Our Hammond family law attorneys recognize that while the courts will give great weight to contracts signed by both parties at any point, having the record drafted or reviewed by an experienced lawyer can help eliminate the possibility that a judge might later find it unenforceable due to being unconscionable and/or involuntary.

It's worth noting there are some elements - such as child support or child custody - that generally can't be decided in such a contract. The courts are more concerned with the child's well-being than the desires of the adults in the situation, and that will take precedent.

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Shae v. Shae - Modification of Child Support Orders

August 18, 2014

While child support guidelines in Indiana were modified nearly five years ago in order to promote fairness in family law proceedings, many parents still find themselves battling a system that is either forcing them to pay more than they can reasonably afford or isn't making the non-custodial parent pay what is necessary to provide for the child.
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Our Gary child support lawyers know that family court judges have a fine line to walk in terms of balancing these interests. But making decisions in the best interest of the child is always the primary goal. So when mistakes are made, challenges must be mounted.

The case of Shae v. Shae, weighed recently by the North Dakota Supreme Court, provides an example of how the courts occasionally get it wrong the first time around, and why it can be beneficial to challenge such orders.

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In re: J.A.L. - Securing Elderly Guardianship in Indiana

August 8, 2014

Typically when our Highland family law attorneys talk about guardianship of an individual, we are speaking of children. However, as the population ages, with increasing frequency we are seeing individuals seeking guardianship of elderly relatives and loved ones.
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Adult guardianship in Indiana, similar to child guardianship, is a legal process whereby the court determines that a person lacks the capacity or ability to communicate decisions for themselves. While this can involve older adults with incapacity rooted in certain forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease, it could also involve a person over 18 with developmental disabilities or an adult who has suffered a traumatic brain injury.

The process involves first speaking with a qualified attorney who can relay your options. From there, your lawyer can help you obtain a physician's statement, which describes the person's diagnoses and functional limitations. Then, your attorney will file a petition on your behalf in court. A notice will be sent to that individual and any others who may require notification under law. The court will likely hire a guardian ad litem, who will act as an advocate for the incapacitated person during the proceedings. The court will then hold a hearing and make a determination based on the merits of the claim.

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Frackman v. Enzor - Evidence of Substance Abuse, Mental Illness, a Material Change in Circumstance for Child Custody Case

July 22, 2014

Modification of child custody orders in Indiana, as well as in many other states, typically requires evidence of some material change in circumstances. That is, something is substantially different to such an extent that reconsideration of the previous order is necessary. childhand.jpg

Gary child custody attorneys know that some general examples of a material change include:


  • The changing needs of the child;

  • Whether a parent has properly overseen the child's physical, social and educational development;

  • Whether a parent has the ability or inability to care for, supervise and spend time with the child;

  • Whether a parent has the financial means and capacity to provide for the child;

  • Whether a parent has decided or must move to a new, much farther location.


These could involve things like moral misconduct, interference with the child's relationship with the other parent or conviction of a crime.

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Crossland v. Crossland - Eligibility for Gov't Benefits Weighed in Divorce Case

July 12, 2014

With increasing frequency, older couples are choosing to separate after several decades together. Our Hammond divorce lawyers recognize that in some respects, these cases are simpler, mainly for the fact that young children are not part of the equation. A lack of a custody battle ratchets down the potential for contention.
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Of course, such cases do come with their own unique set of challenges. Often, these involve concerns over health insurance policies, retirement and pension accounts and government benefits (namely, Social Security).

Recently, the South Carolina Supreme Court weighed one such case, Crossland v. Crossland, where a wife's eligibility for Social Security retirement benefits was factored into alimony payments. Although the wife was of an age at which she was entitled to collect, she chose not to do so until she had reached official retirement age. The court essentially held this did not equate to voluntary unemployment or underemployment, and the wife should not be penalized for this decision.

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Stanley v. Stanley - Fraudulent Conveyance of Property Pre-Divorce

June 18, 2014

In some ways, divorce proceedings are much like that of a bankruptcy. Both can involve the litigation of highly personal matters, and both require intense, third-party analysis of your finances.
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In both scenarios, once a filing is made, every financial decision you make thereafter - and some you made before - are going to be considered and sifted and potentially used against you.

Highland divorce lawyers know that this is why, if at all possible, you want to discuss the implications of a separation and divorce in advance of the actual filing. Divorce usually results in a hit to the financial stability of all involved. However, with proper planning, that effect can be minimized, and we can work to ensure you aren't penalized for financial decisions you made that the court later deems improper.

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Equitable Distribution in Divorce Weighed by Indiana Appellate Court

June 2, 2014

When exploring the possibility of filing for divorce in Indiana, one primary consideration is the way in which courts divvy up property accrued during the marriage.
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The courts have established that the goal is equitable distribution, which some mistake to mean "equal distribution." This is not so. Hammond divorce attorneys want to stress that "equitable" is usually taken to mean "what's fair under the circumstances."

That means the family law judge is going to look at the length of the marriage, your contributions to the marriage, your careers, whether you have children, whether there are any special situations that must be considered. Rarely if ever does it mean a 50-50 split. The truth is that distribution of assets is typically one of the most complex matters before a divorce court. Having an experienced lawyer by your side makes a difference.

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Indiana Divorce Involving Co-Owners of Business

May 15, 2014

When married, co-entrepreneurs are busy getting their business off the ground, they often don't consider what might happen if they divorce.
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It's understandably not a pleasant scenario to consider, particularly when things are going well. However, a family-owned business run by married couples can quickly tank if the divorce is handled poorly. It may even result in bankruptcy, particularly if a lack of prenuptial agreements, shareholder agreements or buy-sell agreements results in a protracted legal battle over assets.

Lake County, Indiana divorce attorneys have experience in handling cases that involve co-owners of a business. While we recognize that equitable division of property is important, we also recognize that preserving the company's future may be beneficial for both parties as well. We're committed to attaining the best results for our clients.

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Bifurcated Divorce in Indiana Can be Beneficial

May 9, 2014

There are some situations in which a divorce decree may be needed or desired sooner than all of the property issues can be settled. For these couples, it is possible to seek a bifurcated divorce.
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Hammond divorce attorneys know that while many couples may want the entire matter done and over with at once, there are times when dispensation of property and distribution of debts can be rather complicated and require more time. That could be time that those involved aren't willing to wait.

State law (IC 31-15-2-14) requires that both parties agree to a bifurcated divorce before the court will grant it. If you aren't on great terms with your soon-to-be-ex, this is all the more reason to hire an experienced attorney who can help you negotiate.

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Daniel v. Daniel - Military Benefits as Marital Property in Divorce

April 15, 2014

Those filing for divorce in Hammond against a military spouse should be aware of the fact that unvested military benefits may be considered marital property for purposes of asset division. americanflag.jpg

The issue arose way back in 1981 with the case of McCarty v. McCarty in the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was decided that federal law precluded the award of military retirement benefits as marital property upon divorce. However, that decision invited congressional action - and Congress passed the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act, codified in Title 10 U.S. Code, Sec. 1408, effective as of 1983. Essentially, the new law holds that military retirement pay is considered marital "property," which could be subject to asset division in divorce.

However, the ruling doesn't mean that former spouses automatically are entitled to a portion of their ex's military retirement pay, and each case is decided according to individual facts and state law. Many jurisdictions continue to grapple with the issue, as evidenced in the recent case of Daniel v. Daniel, heard by the Ohio Supreme Court.

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Termination of Parental Rights in Indiana

April 4, 2014

The Indiana Supreme Court recently reversed and remanded decisions in two similar family law cases regarding termination of parental rights due to a technical legal error. This means both individuals in question will have the opportunity to once again assert to the court why the state should allow them to retain their parental rights.
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Gary family law attorneys recognize that these are some of the most wrenching cases, and the courts will decide them on the basis of what is in the best interest for the child.

A termination of parental rights ends the legal parent-child relationship. Once this is formalized, the child is available to become legally placed for adoption and is potentially eligible for certain state-provided benefits.

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Transmutation of Non-Marital Property in Indiana Divorce

February 28, 2014

As a general rule, the only property in a divorce proceeding that is subject to division is marital property. book.jpg

The question of what exactly constitutes marital property is one that family courts continue to wrestle with on a daily basis. For the most part, however, marital property is considered that which was earned or acquired during the marriage - unless you agree otherwise. Separate property is that which belongs to only one spouse, either because it was owned before the marriage, received as a gift during the marriage, was an inheritance or personal injury award or was acquired in one spouse's name and never used for the benefit of the other.

However, these rules aren't without exception, and one of those is the transmutation of non-marital property. Those filing for a divorce in Gary should educate themselves on this issue, particularly if they own a small business.

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