Articles Posted in Indiana Divorce

One fact that is difficult for many divorcing couples to grasp is that just because something is ordered in family court does not mean third parties must adhere to it.

A common example is when a husband is absolved of making mortgage payments on a marital home in which he no longer resides. This may be forfeited in exchange for some other advantage in the divorce settlement. However, the bank is not required to adhere to this agreement – it’s solely between husband and wife. So if husband’s name is on the mortgage, he’s technically still responsible to pay that mortgage, even if he doesn’t live there and even if the family court says he isn’t obligated. If the wife stops paying those mortgage payments, the husband becomes responsible for the total amount, or else the property will go into foreclosure and his credit will be dragged through the mud too.

The only recourse he would have at that point would be to sue the wife for damages under their prior agreement.
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Indiana law generally presumes following a divorce each spouse will work and support him or herself after the marriage has ended. However, there are some exceptions, and in these cases, spousal maintenance is granted.

Courts are more likely to grant temporary spousal maintenance during the interim period between when divorce is filed and when it becomes final. This is the provisional period, and temporary maintenance is rather common.

Less common is an award of spousal maintenance after a divorce. In order for the court to award spousal maintenance, the law requires certain criteria, as set forth in Indiana Code 31-15-7-2, to be met. Primarily, the court considers whether the receiving spouse is physically or mentally incapacitated to the extent his or her ability to self-support is materially affected. The court may also consider the spouse’s lack of sufficient property to provide for his or her needs, the custody of an incapacitated child requiring him or her to forgo employment as well as the educational level, earning potential and the amount of time necessary to seek and acquire sufficient training/education to become self-sufficient.
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While divorce certainly has its challenges, it’s usually preferable to remaining in a union that isn’t working.

However, when the element of abuse is involved, there are unique and important considerations that must be made before proceeding. It has been proven violent spouses are most prone to extreme acts when the victim is attempting to leave the relationship.

That’s why in these circumstances, it’s imperative to consult with a legal team that understands the situation and can help guide you safely through the process by putting you in touch with social service resources such as shelters, law enforcement and crisis counselors. Safety of our clients is a No. 1 priority. We work to help ensure that by requesting emergency orders of protection, emergency child custody hearings and other measures intended to keep you safe while you leave a toxic relationship.
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Both pre- and post-nuptial agreements have increasingly come into favor among many couples, particularly those who are waiting longer to marry (or are marrying later in life) or may have issues to resolve during the course of the union.

These are formal agreements that will be recognized by Indiana civil courts in the event of marriage dissolution – barring certain findings of impropriety at the time the agreements were signed.

For example, Indiana Code 31-11-3 addresses the enforceability of pre-nuptial agreements, stating the agreement isn’t enforceable if one party did not execute the agreement voluntarily, it was unconscionable when executed, provisions modify or eliminate spousal maintenance or cause one party to suffer extreme hardship under circumstances not reasonably foreseeable at the time of the agreement.
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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.

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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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.

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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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.

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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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.

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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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.

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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When married, co-entrepreneurs are busy getting their business off the ground, they often don’t consider what might happen if they divorce.

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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