Articles Posted in Indiana Family Law

When it comes to issues of parenting rights, child custody, visitation time, and child support, there are many sensitive and complicated angles to consider. 

One that Hammond family law attorneys sometimes see crop up is when one parent becomes involved with a new paramour, be it a boyfriend or girlfriend or a new legal spouse. It may be uncomfortable for the ex-spouse; beyond that, it could mean changes in the previously agreed-to parenting plan. That’s why it may be wise to avoid inviting new love interests to spend extensive time with one’s children until the developing relationship becomes more serious.

There have been a significant number of cases in which a parent will apply to limit the amount of exposure children have to their ex-spouse’s new boyfriend or girlfriend. In some cases, this desire arises out of legitimate concern, either a fear that the child will form too close an attachment too quickly, or a worry about the child’s safety due to the paramour’s history. In other instances, it’s simply done out of spite or jealousy.  Continue reading

Last year, a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision opened the doors for same-sex partners across the country to obtain a marriage license – and to have those marriages recognized in any state across the country. Since that ruling, many same-sex couples have married in Indiana. 

But there are still some gray areas in our nation’s civil court systems with regard to these relationship. Take for example the recent case of Luttrell v. Cucco, weighed in on by the Virginia Supreme Court.

At its core, this case was a dispute over spousal support. As is common in many temporary spousal support agreements, a provision indicated that the support agreements were subject to termination in the event of “cohabitation,” as defined in Va. Code 20-109. The law states that maintenance and support of an ex-spouse may be discontinued upon cohabitation, remarriage, or death. Specifically, the law states that an ex-spouse who has been “habitually cohabitating with another person in a relationship analogous to a marriage for one year or more” is subject to termination of spousal support benefits.  Continue reading

A man in Iowa at first thought it was a joke when a letter arrived from the state ordering him to pay child support for a 1-year-old born to a woman he hadn’t seen in 17 years. 

But it was no laughing matter.

The case came about because, as The Daily Mail reported, the man was still legally married to that woman, his long-estranged wife. The pair had never formally divorced. In Iowa – just like in Indiana – a woman’s husband is the presumed father if:

  • He and his wife were married when the child was born;
  • The child is born no later than 300 days after the marriage ends.

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For millennials, out-of-wedlock birth is often the norm. A number of studies have revealed that 64 percent of mothers give birth at least once without exchanging vows. Among women under 30, more than half have had births outside of marriage. And nearly half of all mothers have children without ever saying, “I do.” 

This is not to say that fathers aren’t a part of the children’s lives, but the parents are not in a marital relationship. Even if this has no bearing on the relationship parent has with child, it may have implications for the child’s financial stability.

IC 31-14 sets forth laws regarding establishment of paternity, including methods, persons permitted to file, venue and other provisions. IC 31-14-5-3 spells out some of limitations on paternity actions.

Essentially, both parents, if unmarried have three days after the child is born to establish paternity at the hospital via paternity affidavit. If mother is married, husband is presumed to be the father. A man will also be presumed the father if mother has been divorced or widowed less than 10 months. Otherwise, mother or father will have to go through additional administrative steps – and possibly the courts. Continue reading

A survivor benefit plan of a military pension should be included in the “marital pot” when considering what should be calculated as an “asset” in an Indiana divorce.

That was the ruling handed down by the Indiana Court of Appeals in the recent case of In Re: the Marriage of Carr v. Carr.

This was a couple who had been married for 16 years and had two children together when the husband sought a divorce. For 14 years before the pair were married, husband had worked in the military, and his service continued while the pair were together. Prior to their marriage, the husband had begun building up his pension. During the marriage, that pension grew. He’d also earned a pension prior to the marriage from a private company. Continue reading

Termination of a parent-child relationship in Indiana is done through judicial proceeding that will forever end the legal, social and financial relationship and responsibilities between a parent and child. It means that all power, privilege, immunity, duty and obligation to that child by the parent is totally gone.

Parents can choose to voluntarily terminate their parent-child relationship, but only when the action is initiated by the Department of Child Services or an adoption agency. Cases if involuntary termination are initiated by DCS.  Continue reading

In many divorce cases, one of the primary considerations that must be made concerns retirement benefits – whether that be through a typical 401k or a pension or through federal Social Security benefits.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal statute that sets the minimum standards for most voluntarily-established health plans and pensions in private industry, and it’s intended to protect those enrolled.

Under this law, many plans allow for a survivor annuity, meaning if the recipient of the retirement funds dies, the surviving spouse will continue to receive benefits under the plan.

Of course, the person designated as one’s survivor at the time the plan is formed may not be the same person to whom you are married when you die. In the event of a divorce, litigants need to carefully consider the necessary steps to either preserve their access to this benefit or remove the other spouse as a named beneficiary. Many times, a simple declaration in a divorce settlement is not enough. What may be needed is a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO), and even then, there may be certain stipulations.
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During the recession, it was understandable that many parents paying child support sought modification of those orders, to more accurately reflect the reduced income they were earning at the time.

Child support orders in Indiana can still be enforced for parents who are receiving unemployment benefits, but the amount may be significantly less if the court grants a modification in line with current income.

As we emerge from these tough times, we find that some people are still struggling more than others. But in some situations, the courts have found parents who could work and earn more if they wanted – but they aren’t doing it. The courts call this being “voluntarily underemployed.”
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After enduring one failed marriage – or two – fewer couples are finding themselves willing to tie the knot once again.

A recent report by the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University revealed that the U.S. remarriage rate has plunged by 40 percent over the last two decades.

That doesn’t mean, however, that they’re living in isolation. Rather, our Indiana family law attorneys recognize that many of them are instead opting to cohabit. By living together without the formality of marriage, many couples feel they can avoid the messiness that might ensue should they decide some day to part ways.
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Once upon a time, it used to be a foregone conclusion that a divorcing husband would be expected to pay alimony to his ex-wife, possibly for the rest of her life.

Highland divorce lawyers know the tides shifted dramatically. In fact, there has been legislation mulled in at least a dozen states that would effectively eliminate alimony, or at least lifetime alimony. One of those, Massachusetts, has passed such a measure and another, New Jersey, is likely to do so before the end of this session.

No such measure is currently being weighed in Indiana, but such debate could be on the horizon in the near future.
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