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Indiana: Spousal Maintenance or Alimony?

February 27, 2017, on Blog |

If you would be surprised to learn that Indiana’s divorce laws do not recognize the concept of alimony, you are not alone. Most people assume that alimony is part of the divorce process, and that they can expect to either pay or receive financial support once their divorce is final.

But, instead of alimony, Indiana law provides for what is referred to as, “spousal maintenance.” This is not simply a difference in terminology. The Indiana courts will only award spousal maintenance under limited circumstances, and the duration and amount of spousal maintenance (both pre- and post-divorce) are limited by statute as well.

Financial Support in an Indiana Divorce: Spousal Maintenance

Under Indiana law, there are only four situations in which a divorce court can issue an award for spousal maintenance:

  • Physical or Mental Incapacity – If one spouse suffers from “material” physical or mental incapacity, the court can (but is not required to) award spousal maintenance only during the period of incapacity.
  • Financial Need (Caregiver Spousal Maintenance) – If one spouse is unable to cover his or her own financial needs and that spouse has custody of a child, “whose physical or mental incapacity requires the custodian to forgo employment,” the court can award spousal maintenance, “for a period of time that the court considers appropriate.”
  • Rehabilitative Need – If one spouse’s earning capacity is diminished due to, “an interruption in . . . education, training, or employment . . . during the marriage as a result of homemaking or child care responsibilities,” the court can award spousal maintenance for up to three years.
  • By Agreement – If none of the above provisions are pertinent to a divorcing couple’s circumstances, the spouses can agree to an award of maintenance. However, like all aspects of a divorce in Indiana, spousal maintenance agreements are subject to judicial approval.

When calculating the amount of spousal maintenance, the courts use the Indiana Child Support Guidelines as a reference. For example, with regard to temporary spousal maintenance (maintenance during the divorce process), the paying spouse’s maintenance obligation should not exceed 35 percent of his or her adjusted weekly income. If the paying spouse has a child support obligation as well, the total combined support payment should not exceed 50 percent of adjusted weekly income.

Despite these fairly rigid rules, calculating spousal maintenance in Indiana is far from a straightforward process. Proving incapacity or rehabilitative need can be a challenge, and collecting the information needed to establish the spouses’ respective incomes often presents numerous hurdles as well. The spouses’ division of assets and child support obligations also factor into the equation, and as a result spouses concerned about maintenance are well-advised to speak with an attorney early in the divorce planning process.

Consult with Carmel Divorce Lawyer Joshua R. Hains

If you are considering a divorce and have questions about spousal maintenance, contact the Carmel, IN family law offices of Hains Law, LLC. For a free and confidential consultation with attorney Joshua R. Hains, call (317) 688-1305 or inquire online today.