Articles Posted in Family Law

Enforcement of child support orders are essential to ensuring the needs of Indiana’s youth are met. Parents seeking to enforce or modify these orders should seek legal counsel.

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In some cases, when parents do not pay, the court can order interest on the arrears, to account for the time single parents had to struggle to make ends meet without support.

On the other hand, sometimes economic circumstances of the non-custodial parent change and they are no longer able to continue paying support at the same level. Even so, they cannot simply stop paying. They must petition the court for a modification of child support payments, or else risk being charged interest and other fines and penalties. Continue reading

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

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.
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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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While Indiana family law courts strive to make the adoption process and transition as seamless as possible for children and their families, inevitably, there are going to be bumps in the road.
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This is especially true when the adoption is in any way disputed or when the adoptive parent or parents have any kind of background (criminal, immoral, etc.) that could give the court pause.

A recent example of possible complications that can arise, even in intrafamily adoptions, was that of In re the adoption of I.B. and W.B. and B.B. v. B.C. & J.L. et al., out of Jasper County. The Indiana Court of Appeals ultimately affirmed the adoption placement of three siblings with their maternal grandmother and her fiance of 13 years. However, it was not without significant legal wrangling.
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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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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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Our Lake County divorce attorneys are seeing an increasing phenomenon of older individuals who are seeking an Indiana divorce.
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While enduring a divorce at any phase in your life is going to be generally unpleasant, there are pros and cons when it happens in your golden years. While most people who divorce in their 50s and 60s don’t typically have to wrangle with the issue of child custody and child support, there are often still going to be issues with property distribution and discussions about alimony.

What is perhaps most concerning for an older couple enduring a divorce is what it’s going to mean for your retirement. You may have gone years planning for time of travel and relaxation with your spouse, only to find yourself divorcing and completely unprepared.

Sadly, it’s not just Indiana where this is happening. In fact, recent figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that in the last two decades, the divorce rate among individuals aged 48 to 66 has soared more than 50 percent. We’re going to continue to see these numbers rise as Baby Boomers get older.

As any financial planner will tell you, divorce can impact your retirement account, your pension access and Social Security. However, you shouldn’t let this discourage you from seeking a fresh start. Divorce in older age can seem daunting. However, with the help of an experienced Lake County family law attorney, the details are not impossible to work out. There is no reason you should suffer through what could be decades of an unhappy relationship when you have the right to peacefully enjoy the rest of your days.

Here are some basic steps you can consider taking to protect yourself in the event of an Indiana divorce:

Set up your own credit line and close any joint accounts. Once a divorce is final, you won’t be able to rely on your spouse anymore, so it will be very important to develop your own credit history. If you don’t have one, this is one of the first steps you should take. This is going to be the means through which you’ll be able to buy or rent a new residence or get a loan.

Know the details of the debt you share with your spouse. Check your credit report. Even if your spouse was the one who ran up the high debts, you could still be held at least partially responsible, so it’s a good idea to at least know where you stand. There are ways that a good attorney can help negotiate for you so you aren’t stuck paying for frivolous expenses that your spouse racked up, or ensure that your spouse will be responsible for debt you accrued while paying bills or caring for your children.

Reconsider before using your retirement funds to pay for divorce expenses. Investing in a good attorney is important, but you may want to consider other ways to do that instead of taking it out of your retirement fund. You aren’t likely to get that money back, and if you take it out in a lump sum, you’ll likely have to pay heavy penalties and taxes on it.

Get all of your retirement and financial documents together before you meet with an attorney. This means your tax returns, bank account statements, investment documents, IRA’s – everything. This will help your Indiana divorce attorney determine where you stand, and help us figure out your best options.
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When some people think about getting divorced, they think about the split in general terms — how they are going to be able to afford renting an apartment and paying monthly bills?

But often, soon-to-be divorcees don’t consider the financial implications beyond those basic terms. A recent article on Nasdaq.com looks at how divorcees can expect to build their credit after a divorce. When people are tied together financially, they may not realize how some joint decisions have affected their standing with creditors.
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This is especially true today, as many Americans have seen their credit scores fall significantly as they deal with foreclosures and short sales after their houses have depreciated in value. If a couple has lost their house to an Indiana foreclosure, it’s possible that their Indiana divorce is going to feel the effects.

The job of an Indiana divorce lawyer is to do what is in the best interests of the client under the laws of the state. Division of assets and child custody or child support issues are going to be big in the eyes of the divorcees.

But a lawyer should also be thinking about the things not considered by the client. That often includes tax implications of getting divorced, how their debts will be paid off and who will be responsible for certain costs incurred by both parties.

The article offers some tips for divorcees about how to improve their credit scores after they complete a divorce. A joint credit score may get them by in life, but once they split, they can be exposed for having poor credit and that can leave them helpless if they don’t have a good credit score and can’t obtain loans.

Pull the credit score: The first step is to see where the divorcee stands. Scouting the files for late payments or collection accounts can help point out red flag issues that will hurt the person’s chances of getting credit in your own name.

About 70 percent of Americans don’t do an annual credit check, which they can do for free under federal law. This often leads to people bringing financial baggage into a marriage and they can leave the marriage with that same baggage when they try to go out on their own.

Fix any credit report mistakes: This is critical because if there is inaccurate information, it can make moving forward that much more difficult. Creditors and banks can misreport data and only you can correct it. Even if a divorce agreement states who should pay off which joint debts, if they don’t, it can hit your credit score.

Nix the joint credit obligations: A divorce is about splitting and cutting off financial ties. The last thing you want to do is hold any joint accounts anymore. As mentioned above, the other spouse could continue using a credit card account in both people’s names and if they make late payments, it can affect your score, too.

Open a secured credit card: Secured credit cards can help people with poor scores build their credit. Secured cards require people to deposit an amount into the account, which creates your spending limit. This gives the creditors some assurances that you will pay.

Pay all your debts on time: The last thing you want to do is start getting behind on payments right out of the gate. Thirty five percent of your FICO score is based on your payment track record. So, missing payments can sink you in a hurry. Pay on time and you can start to get your credit fixed.
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Sadly, January has become a busy month for many Indiana divorce lawyers because for some reason, the first month of the new year tends to bring out the reality that the holiday season masked.

Fox News recently reported that nearly 24,000 divorces are granted each year in Arizona and many of them are initiated in the first month of the year.
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Divorce in Indiana can be painful during any month of the year. As humans, we are emotional and separating from a person can be a difficult experience. This sometimes is enhanced when the split comes right after the holidays.

Yet, sometimes this is done by design. Many couples know that their marriage is rocky and they are unlikely to continue it, despite their best efforts. If counseling and other tactics don’t work, it’s possible that they will try to make the holidays as “normal” as possible for the benefit of their children or family members before announcing their decision. This helps to keep the routine somewhat intact and keeps people from associating bad feelings with family gatherings in December.

Some lawyers surveyed for the article said they tend to receive twice as many divorce cases in January than in any other month. In most cases, the couples are planning the split for months in advance.

One man interviewed said he was heading to the courthouse to get divorced that afternoon. He said the divorce was in the works for a while, but finances prevented him from filing sooner. He said that people have to finish their taxes and realize what type of refund they may get before filing a divorce.

Finances, especially in recent years, have played a big role in when and whether people can get divorced. Many couples have decided to stay together more out of necessity than love. Splitting bills and daily costs is a lot easier than trying to do it alone.

Also, for those who have lost their jobs and may be having trouble paying bills, the hit to a person’s credit score can lead to difficulty qualifying to rent an apartment or house. That’s another reason people tend to stay together longer.

If a couple owns a house together, it is now seen more as a liability than an asset. For couples who are about to get divorced, this can also factor into why they are waiting. If housing prices are rebounding sooner than expected in their neighborhood, that may be a reason why they are now considering a divorce.

Whatever the reason and whatever the season, an Indiana divorce can be tough. But it doesn’t have to be. An experienced Indiana divorce lawyer can take a lot of the stress and pressure off the client by simply doing his or her job. Avoiding contentious litigation or lengthy meetings where couples bicker and fight is only going to make matters worse. Strongly communicating the situation and working for an amicable resolution without massive interference from the court is always the best bet for each side.
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There have been many celebrity divorces in the news recently and aside from a higher income than most of the rest of us, these high-profile divorcees go through similar challenges — just like everyone else.

A Lake County divorce can take a toll, not only financially, but emotionally as well. It can create a big change in life circumstances and requires adapting to a new way of living.
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An experienced Gary divorce lawyer must be consulted to seek the best outcome possible. Whether fighting over alimony or child support payments, child custody, division of assets and debts or preparing financially (including consideration of tax issues and debt after a divorce), a lawyer will be able to assist you.

Among the most high-profile marriages and divorces in recent years was that of reality TV star Kim Kardashian and NBA player Kris Humphries. The couple spent millions on their wedding and agreed to a contract to do a television special about the event, only to split 72 days later.

It hasn’t been made public what led to the split, but the two millionaires had a prenuptial agreement in place. It’s unclear if either took away assets from the divorce.

News reports alleged that actor Ashton Kutcher was spotted out on the town with a young fling despite being married to actress Demi Moore for six years. Despite Kutcher’s efforts to save the marriage, the New York Daily News reports, Moore wanted a divorce.

The newspaper reports that Kutcher, 33, bought his 49-year-old wife a $100,000 car as a way of trying to save their marriage. Tabloid reports state that Moore knew of her husband’s alleged affairs as they were ongoing.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer’s divorce has also gotten media attention, as it has been reported that he and his wife of 13 years are attempting to go to mediation to settle a lawsuit so they don’t have to proceed to a trial.

The Lexington Herald-Leader is reporting that Farmer and his wife, who filed for divorce in April, will again attempt to have a mediation hearing in order to try to work out their differences. A trial date had been set for December, but the two agreed to a delay of the trial while they attempt to get together and reach an agreement.

Mediation is held when the two sides of a divorce are unable to amicably agree to the separation of assets, child custody matters and other issues. This is handled differently on a state-by-state and county-by-county basis.

In some situations, couples are forced to go to mediation in order to try to avoid going to trial and taking up the time and resources that can require. When the dollar amounts, investments, properties and other assets are very high, this can be more complex. But divorces where few assets are on the line can be equally time consuming because of what those assets represent in a relationship.

Each case is unique. An experienced Indiana divorce lawyer will take your needs into consideration and prepare your case individually. There is no cookie-cutter approach to a divorce because every case is different.

Don’t attempt to do this alone. There are many long-term legal implications from a divorce and all should be taken into consideration.
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