Preparing for a divorce is never easy. From figuring out how you will manage your finances to telling your children and dealing with neighbors, family and friends, there are several difficult steps involved even before you get to the matter of actually dissolving your marriage. For many people, the process can seem overwhelming, and the road ahead can seem never-ending.
At Hains Law, LLC, we help our clients simplify the divorce process. From couples of modest means to spouses with multi-million-dollar marital estates, we ensure that all of our clients have a clear understanding of what they can expect and what they need to do every step of the way. We give our clients personalized advice tailored to their unique circumstances, and we effectively represent their interests in negotiations, in mediation, and in court.
If you are preparing for a divorce in the Carmel area, we encourage you to give us a call. Attorney Joshua R. Hains will be happy to sit down with you personally for a free, one-on-one consultation.
When it comes to coping with the divorce process, one of the first steps is to understand the options that are available. Not all divorces – in fact, not many divorces – end up in court. By the same token, however, it is rare that divorcing spouses are truly on the same page about all of the various issues involved. Most fall somewhere in the middle.
Most divorces can be characterized as “contested.” This means that the spouses have one or more issues (such as property division, maintenance or child custody) on which they need to come to terms. Contested divorces can be resolved in a few different ways:
Mediation is a process that involves the spouses and their respective lawyers working with a neutral third-party “mediator” to reach an amicable resolution. The mediator offers suggestions and helps the spouses see the issues from each other’s point of view, but does not make any decisions on their behalf.
The collaborative approach involves the spouses and their attorneys working together with the common goal of finalizing the terms of their divorce without court involvement. In a collaborative divorce, the spouses will often hire accountants, social workers and other experts who can help them make informed decisions. The collaborative model has recently gained popularity and is proven to work for those spouses who are willing to commit to the process.
When mediation and negotiation are off of the table, divorcing spouses may have no choice but to resolve their differences in court. In many cases, however, divorcing spouses will still find a way to settle before trial, or they may be able to resolve certain issues out of court in order to minimize the scope and costs of litigation.
In an uncontested divorce, there are no issues left to be resolved. The spouses are in full agreement on how to divide their assets and parenting time, and they have settled on any financial support obligations that will apply after their divorce.
Due to the complexities involved, fully uncontested divorces are relatively rare. Even when a couple has only limited assets and no children, there are a number of issues that can go overlooked without a clear understanding of Indiana law. As a result, spouses who are attempting to navigate an uncontested divorce will still be well-served to speak with an experienced family law attorney.
As part of getting divorced, you and your spouse will need to divide your assets, and you will need to determine if there are any circumstances that warrant payment of alimony (referred to as “spousal maintenance” in Indiana).
When you get divorced in Indiana, all of you and your spouse’s assets are on the table. Unlike other states that distinguish between property acquired before and during the marriage, Indiana places all of the divorcing couple’s property into one “marital pot.” The law then makes a presumption that this “pot” should be split 50/50, although spouses can agree to (or argue for) a different and more-equitable distribution.
The first step in dividing marital assets is identification. You need to have a clear picture of the assets that are subject to distribution (equal or otherwise), and if your spouse is being less than forthcoming this can present certain challenges. However, even when both spouses are acting in good faith, identifying everything and giving it an appropriate value can still be difficult.
Once you know what assets are subject to distribution, then you and your spouse can begin the process of deciding who gets what. To learn more about property division in Indiana, you can read:
In Indiana, post-divorce spousal maintenance can only be awarded under limited circumstances. Indiana law allows for an award of spousal maintenance only if: (i) one spouse suffers from a “material” physical or mental incapacity; (ii) one spouse’s earning capacity is diminished due to taking on homemaking or childcare responsibilities during the marriage; (iii) a custodial parent is required to forego employment in order to care for an incapacitated child; or, (iv) the spouses agree to an award of spousal maintenance (subject to court approval).
In certain circumstances, spouses with financial needs can seek “temporary” spousal maintenance (financial support during the divorce process) as well. Here, too, there are certain limitations, and divorcing spouses who are concerned about their financial wellbeing should discuss their options with an attorney sooner rather than later.
Getting divorced inherently involves certain unique issues for high-net-worth couples in Indiana. From life insurance to pensions, executive compensation plans, business ownership interests, and vacation homes, virtually all high-value assets will require special consideration during the divorce process. If you and your spouse signed a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, the terms of your agreement may specify property rights that deviate from Indiana’s 50/50 presumption; but, if not, you will need to develop and execute a strategic plan for preserving your property interests in your divorce.
In any case, dividing assets in a high-net-worth divorce will usually involve some measure of give-and-take. For example, the spouse who keeps the family home or a vacation property may also take sole responsibility for the mortgage (note, however, that dividing joint debts presents certain challenges as well). Or, one spouse may need to forego his or her interest in a retirement account or privately-held business in order to secure ownership of a possession with sentimental value.
For parents, securing child custody rights is understandably one of the most important aspects of getting divorced. While the parents’ wishes are a factor to be considered, ultimately the Indiana courts will only approve a parenting time plan if it serves the “best interests” of the child.
When establishing custody in a divorce, there are numerous factors that come into play. From the parents’ (and the child’s) wishes to the child’s current living arrangements, divorcing parents must appropriately weigh all of the issues that go into crafting a legally-enforceable parenting time plan. For more information on establishing child custody rights in Indiana, you can read:
In Indiana, child support calculations must be made in accordance with the state’s Child Support Rules and Guidelines. This is a statutory requirement, and it is designed to ensure that – at a minimum – children of divorced parents have the financial support required to meet their basic needs.
In most cases, child support obligations in Indiana end at the age of 19. Costs such as private school tuition, college expenses and uninsured medical bills require special consideration and court approval.
Whether you are planning to file for divorce or you think your spouse may be preparing to file, there are a number of steps you can take to get ahead of the process. This includes doing things like:
This is just a small sampling. Preparing for a divorce is a process in itself, and Carmel divorce lawyer Joshua R. Hains will be happy to walk you through everything you need to know during your initial consultation.
While there are several “legal service providers” out there that offer “online divorces,” the reality is that (i) getting divorced is an inherently personal process that requires personalized legal advice, and (ii) you cannot technically file for divorce online. If you use an online service for your divorce, what you are likely to receive is a generic marital settlement agreement that does not fully reflect your personal circumstances – and that you will still need to file with (and have approved by) the appropriate Indiana court.
Your rights during your divorce will be the same regardless of whether you or your spouse initiates the process. While there can be certain benefits to being the one to file (for example, you will get to present your side first if your divorce goes to trial), the decision of whether and when to file is one that should be made after careful consideration and in close consultation with your lawyer.
This is a fairly common scenario with regard to assets such as real estate, retirement accounts, and items with sentimental value. If you and your spouse both want to keep certain assets in your divorce, you will need to find a way to divide these assets equitably (if you do not, the court will do so for you). Most often, this involves negotiating a property settlement under which each spouse retains certain assets and gives up his or her right to others.
Pets are considered personal property in Indiana, so your pets will be part of the property division in your divorce. In appropriate circumstances, spouses can make provisions for financial support and “visitation” with pets as well.
Dealing with privately-held business interests can be one of the most complicated aspects of going through a divorce in Indiana. For an introduction to some of the issues involved, we encourage you to read: Divorce Considerations for Indiana Business Owners.
Co-parenting is an alternative to traditional custody and visitation arrangements in which divorced parents jointly play an active role in their children’s lives. There are many variations of co-parenting; and, while it is not for everyone, if divorcing spouses can make it work, co-parenting will often be the best option for everyone involved.
If you need to speak with a divorce attorney in Carmel, it is important to choose a law firm you can trust. Here are five reasons why clients choose Hains Law, LLC:
To schedule a free consultation with lawyer Joshua R. Hains, please call (317) 688-1305 or contact us online. We are here for you, and we are ready to help you protect what matters most in your divorce.