Merrillville, Indiana Legal Blog

What should you expect at a child custody hearing in Indiana?

Divorce in Indiana can be a difficult and emotionally draining process. For many couples, the end of a marriage is the conclusion of a hard road. When children are involved, it can be even harder. Of course, in some cases, the parties can come to an agreement on the basic issues and be amicable about it. That, however, is oftentimes rare. With child custody, it is frequently necessary to have a hearing. Parents are commonly concerned about what will happen at the hearing. Understanding the process and knowing what to expect can be important.

It is preferable for the parties to come to an agreement regarding custody without court intervention. Sometimes, the issues are so contentious that this is not possible. A hearing lets the court decide on how the case will be settled. The judge will formulate a child custody decision that serves the best interests of the child. There is no single factor that determines the child's best interests, but the child's happiness, health and development are critical.

Divorce filings tend to spike in the New Year

Divorce can happen at any time of year, but Indiana residents and people across the nation should pay attention to statistical trends that might affect their situation. For many couples, the holidays are stressful and after the New Year, some will decide that they need to part ways and divorce. There are many factors that should be considered for those who are thinking about taking this step.

There is a known increase in divorce cases in January. This can be attributed to people seeking a fresh start as part of the New Year. It is a strategy to start over. The intense holiday season and stressors that are inherent during that time are frequently perceived as a catalyst, but these cases rarely arise in the holiday vacuum.

How does my custody order affect holiday travel plans?

When you have children, vacation planning can be complicated. You plan your route and mode of travel for minimum stress and look for places to stay that are close to kid-friendly amenities. If you are traveling over the winter holidays, your schedule will include visits with relatives and events on the most special days.

If you and your children's other parent are no longer together, you must consider the terms of your custody order before you set any plans in stone. In fact, it is safe to say that gone are the days of just picking up with the kids and heading out of town for the holidays. However, holiday travel does not have to be stressful. First, you may have to accept that you may not always get your way every year.

Relocation is a complex part of child custody in Indiana

Divorce is a life-changing experience for everyone involved. This is true for the former spouses and children. Once the divorce has been completed and other issues, such as child custody, child support, spousal support and property division, have been decided upon, many might believe the case is final and they can move forward. However, that is not always the case.

For some, there are disagreements about whether a parent can relocate with a child. These can be challenging emotionally for everyone from the relocating parent, a parent who has concerns or outright objections to the relocation and the child. It is a sound decision to have legal assistance.

What should I know about child medical support in a divorce?

During an Indiana divorce, there are certain guidelines the court will use to determine how much child support will be paid to the custodial parent. Various factors are considered in this context and medical support is one of the most important. Children need to be adequately cared for and a foundational part of that is ensuring they receive the proper medical care. For the custodial parent who is receiving support and the non-custodial parent who is paying it, it is useful to understand the health care and medical support in the guidelines.

One or both parents will be ordered to have health care for the child. It must be at a reasonable cost. It can be public, like Medicaid, or provided by the employer. It will be considered accessible if it is available in the geographic area in which the child resides.

Is there equitable property division in Indiana?

As an Indiana couple moves forward with a divorce, there are many areas that can be up for dispute. Of course, children, how they are supported, what the living arrangements are and visitation rights will take precedence. Spousal support is also a critical aspect of a case. While it might seem to be less important, property division also sparks substantial disagreement between the parties. Understanding that Indiana differs from many other states in how it assesses property in a divorce is important.

Indiana law says that there should be an equitable distribution of property. This means that when the property is divided, its split must be categorized as just and reasonable.

What is a bifurcation in an Indiana divorce?

There are many aspects of an Indiana divorce and people who are in the middle of such an upheaval are not expected to immediately understand all of them. While some cases are contentious, others are relatively amicable. Many fall somewhere in between. If the couple has certain issues about which they can agree and others that are in dispute, there are ways to have a smooth divorce process that addresses contested and uncontested issues. Understanding what the law says about this is critical to using it effectively and a law firm experienced in family legal cases can help.

Bifurcation in a divorce means that the issues are split. With this process, the parties can have a summary disposition of some parts of the case while there will be a hearing on others. It can expedite the case so a party who wishes to remarry can do so while the case is not yet completed. The summary disposition might sound comparable to a summary dissolution. With a summary dissolution, the sides are not in need of a hearing because they have agreed on all issues. The divorce is relatively straightforward and after the required time-period has passed, the divorce will be granted. A summary disposition does the same with the individual parts of the divorce that have been agreed to. For example, if the parties agree on property division, it can be completed without a hearing.

What does Indiana law say about joint legal child custody?

Child custody disputes can be an emotional. People who are ending their marriage often think about how much time they will spend with their children while wanting them to live in a stable and nurturing environment with as little disruption as possible. Although the law requires family law courts to issue child custody orders based on the best interests of the child involved, during a divorce lingering issues between a child's parents can make it difficult to come to an acceptable resolution to a child custody dispute.

In many cases, rather than award custody to one parent or another, a better solution is joint legal custody. Understanding what state law says about what is considered when making this order is key. When the decision is made as to whether there should be joint legal custody, the best interests of the child are paramount. Also, the parties who are set to have joint legal custody are generally encouraged to agree to it on their own.

Planning ahead can help when divorcing during retirement

You may be someone who has become more vocal about what you want in life as you have aged. Now that you are reaching your retirement years, you may feel that the time has come to make some major changes in your life in efforts to live more happily. In particular, you may feel that the time has come to end your marriage.

To some, it may seem like an unnecessary upheaval to go through divorce while also retiring. However, if you are unhappy in your marriage and feel that ending it is for the best, it may not seem unnecessary to you. Certainly, you understand that a lot of changes will occur and that there is a chance for financial upset, but you also know that you can plan ahead.

A qualified lawyer can help with child and spousal support

In an Indiana divorce, support issues will come to the forefront. This is true for child support and spousal support. Taking care of children and serving their best interests is an obvious need. Most parents will be more than happy to provide for a child after a divorce. The custodial parent will need these payments to care for the child. However, there can be disputes about the amount. Regarding spousal support, it is often more complex. There could be lingering issues between the parties and disagreements as to how much will be paid and the duration. With these concerns and any other issue that is likely to arise in a divorce proceeding, legal help is key.

There are many factors with child support. Of course, income is one. What must also be considered is the number of times a child stays overnight with the noncustodial parent. Providing health care and adhering to the child's educational requirements will be calculated in the support order. While a formula will be used as a basic guideline, there is always nuance. Whether it is from the perspective of the custodial or noncustodial parent, examining the entire situation will be a foundational part of a support order and that can be achieved with legal advice.

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