Merrillville, Indiana Legal Blog

Put your child's interests first when divorcing in Indiana

Divorce is hard for all Indiana residents, but when there are children involved, the parents and others invested in the child's care and well-being cannot be distracted from the primary focus: the well-being of the child. Divorce issues will be complex and can cause seemingly endless disputes. That is true for property division and spousal support. When child custody is an issue, it can make an already fractured relationship worse. Having legal advice to address child custody and visitation issues is one of the most important decisions that both parents can make.

There are many factors that go into determining child custody. Some of these factors include which parent can provide the more nurturing environment, what the living arrangements are, if the disruption to the child's routine will be limited, if there are other relatives in the house or area that can make the transition easier and more. Once the child custody determination is made, there will be the key matter of visitation rights for the other parent. Provided there are no ancillary issues such as abuse, it is imperative that the child and the noncustodial parent have a strong relationship and that is not undercut by lingering animosity the parents might have. Even in amicable divorces, it is wise to think about the child's interests and protection.

What will your divorce mean for your golden years?

You probably have ideas for what you hope to do with your retirement years. No matter how old you are or how soon you hope to retire, a divorce can affect your plans for your golden years. If you are facing the end of your marriage, it's smart to make decisions that will allow you to have a strong and stable future. 

As you know, divorce requires the division of marital property. Marital property includes everything that you and your spouse bought, earned or accumulated over the course of your marriage. This includes various types of retirement accounts. You may have serious concerns about what this will mean for your long-term security, but there are steps you can take now to secure your future interests.

Are written agreements possible in an Indiana divorce?

While the concept of ending a marriage in Indiana is generally viewed as one in which there are constant disputes over a wide range of issues, it does not necessarily need to be that way in every case. Adversarial divorces can be complex. Sometimes it is unavoidable that there will be rancor and disagreements over children, support and property division in a divorce. But some couples can look beyond the factors that sparked the plan to end the marriage and simply part ways without arguing. It might even be amicable.

For these couples, it is important to know how written agreements can be beneficial in saving time, money and might reduce the emotional impact of a divorce. The law seeks an amicable resolution whenever possible. With that, the parties can have a written agreement about the following aspects of a divorce: maintenance that will be paid by one party to the other; how property will be disposed of and who owns what; and child custody and support.

Key points about alimony after an Indiana divorce

When an Indiana couple decides to end their marriage and part ways, it is rarely a simple matter of signing a few papers and no longer needing to have any connection to one another. Many might think these circumstances in which the couple still must have some level of contact are limited to when they have children, but paying alimony - also known as spousal support - is often ordered.

The supporting former spouse and the receiving former spouse must be aware of certain facts about spousal support like when it is warranted, when it can be rehabilitative, and when it can be modified or ended completely. As with any family law issue, legal help is imperative. With specific circumstances, the court can award spousal support if: a spouse has been found to be mentally incapacitated and with the incapacitation they cannot support themselves; or the spouse does not have the property to be able to provide for his or her own needs and has custody of a child who has a physical or mental incapacity that requires the parent to stay home to provide care.

What are relevant factors for child support after a divorce?

Indiana couples who have moved forward with a divorce and have children must consider how the child will be cared for after the process is completed. Child support is a commonly contentious issue with the custodial parent wanting a certain amount to be paid and the supporting parent thinking about a lesser amount. These disputes do not mean the parents are not interested in the child's well-being. It simply relates to disagreements as to the monthly payments. Understanding what the law says about relevant factors is imperative for both parents and for the child.

When there is a divorce, a legal separation, a child support dispute or when paternity is established, the court can order that the parents pay for reasonable support of the child. This is independent of allegations of marital misconduct. The relevant factors in the case will include: what the custodial parent's financial resources are; the child's standard of living if the marriage did not end, if there was not a separation or if in a paternity case, the parents were married and stayed married; what the child's physical and mental condition is and how the educational needs will be served; and what the noncustodial parent's financial resources are.

Important points about an Indiana divorce decree

Indianans who have made the decision to divorce will have many questions and concerns about the process. While these issues will often be related to support, property division and custody of children, it is also important to remember how the process will go as the case nears its conclusion. Because the divorce decree will be final and making changes or disputing factors after the dissolution is completed can be difficult, this is an under-the-radar consideration that should be assessed from the start. Knowing how the law handles the final hearing and the decree is imperative to a case.

In a final hearing with a divorce, the court will take evidence into consideration. That will include any agreement the parties have come to or pleadings with the court. If the court decides that material allegations in the divorce petition are accurate, it will enter an order for dissolution or it can order that the parties seek reconciliation. The reconciliation attempt will be ordered if the court decides that there is a reasonable chance of it succeeding. If such an order is made, the case will be continued so the parties can have counseling and seek to save the marriage.

Is parallel parenting an option in my child custody case?

Child custody and crafting a parenting plan that satisfies all parties and adheres to the child's best interests in Indiana can be difficult. There are often alternatives that are used to satisfy the situation in as seamless a manner as possible. While most cases will have a custodial parent and a noncustodial parent with visitation time granted to the noncustodial parent, one option that could be effective in certain cases is parallel parenting.

When considering parallel parenting, it is vital to understand how it works and its impact on the parents and child. Having legal advice is always key. With parallel parenting, the plan deviates from the general guidelines used for parenting time. It should be used only in cases where the court concludes that it is a high conflict situation between the parents and the parallel parenting plan is likely to keep the couple from endless dispute and serve the best interests of the child.

When is a prenuptial agreement the right course of action?

Getting ready to walk down the aisle is an exciting time, but as you plan for your wedding, you may also want to take steps to protect your long-term interests as well. During this time of preparation, you may want to consider the benefits of drafting a prenuptial agreement. This is a smart way for you to lower your risk of legal complications in the future.

Through a prenuptial agreement, you can outline how certain things will work in the event of a divorce. It may seem counterintuitive to plan for the end of a marriage before you even marry, but this can be a smart step for many reasons. Taking precautions now can help you avoid problems down the road. Prenuptial agreements can be useful legal protections for Indiana couples of all ages and income levels.

Advice about social media during a divorce

For most people in Indiana and around the world, social media is an everyday part of their lives. This can be due to business needs, to keep up with family and friends, to check for news, or just to get a break from work or other requirements. When people are getting a divorce, it can even be perceived as a source of advice and comfort in seeking help from those who have gone through it themselves or as a sounding board. However, as with any relatively new aspect of life, it can be difficult to assess the damage that can be done with social media as part of a divorce proceeding. Having legal advice is imperative to understand dos and don'ts with social media.

People might make the mistake of venting on one of their social media platforms. This can be about the marriage, its breakdown, how the other spouse is behaving, what is happening with child custody and more. This, however, could be used in a negative way by the other spouse during the court proceeding to try and prove that the person is not being agreeable and does not want to settle the case amicably.

What are the different kinds of custody?

If you are a parent beginning the divorce process, it may only be a matter of time before you and your spouse discuss child custody. To be prepared for this conversation, it may be helpful to understand the different types of child custody that are possible.

Physical and legal custody

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