DIVORCE ACTIONS AND LEGAL SEPARATIONS
Making the decision to file for a divorce or receiving a divorce petition in the mail is a life altering experience. Broyles Kight & Ricafort can guide you through this difficult process and help minimize your emotional and financial costs.
The grounds for a divorce in Indiana are simple, as Indiana is a “no fault” divorce state. It therefore is not necessary to prove that one spouse acted inappropriately by committing adultery, etc. All that must be shown to a court is that there has been an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage and that there is no reasonable expectation of a reconciliation between spouses.
In order to file a dissolution of marriage petition in Indiana, one must have been a resident of the state for at least six (6) months and a resident of the county in which the petition is filed for at least three (3) months. There is a mandatory waiting period of sixty (60) days in Indiana before a dissolution of marriage petition can be granted.
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In any dissolution of marriage action, one of the main issues is distribution of marital property. In Indiana, all vested assets held by either party at the time a petition for dissolution of marriage is filed are considered “marital assets” and are included in the “pot” to be divided. Indiana is an “equitable distribution” state and has a rebuttable presumption that marital assets should be divided equally. Factors a court can consider in deviating from an equal distribution of assets include the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the property, whether the assets was acquired prior to the marriage or through inheritance, the economic circumstances of each party, the earning ability of each party, and whether either party dissipated assets.
Indiana law does not provide for “alimony” in a dissolution of marriage. It does allow for “maintenance” payments from one spouse to another in limited situations. Maintenance payments are permitted when one spouse is incapacitated and unable to work, or when one spouse is the custodian of a child whose condition does not allow the spouse to work and the spouse does not have sufficient property to provide for the spouse’s needs. Indiana law also allows for “rehabilitative maintenance” payments to a spouse for a period of up to three (3) years. These payments are designed to help a spouse acquire job skills or education so that the spouse will be able to support himself in the future.
Determining how marital property should be divided involves many considerations, such as the tax consequences of different distribution options or whether an asset is liquid and available for immediate use. There also may be issues relating to valuation of a business an area with which our professionals have substantial experience. Our professionals are prepared to assist you with these considerations and to advise you on how to obtain the best possible asset distribution for your needs.
In some circumstances, a legal separation may be an appropriate alternative to filing for dissolution of marriage (divorce). An order for legal separation is temporary by nature, and allows the parties to spend time making decisions about whether to move forward to divorce, or whether to attempt reconciliation – while protecting the legal interests of both parties and avoiding the emotional label of “filing for divorce.” In a legal separation, an agreement or order focuses on “ground rules” that will be in place while the couple decides their future. Temporary terms for custody, parenting time, support, possession of property, and payment of expenses are typically established as part of a legal separation order or agreement.
The professionals of BKR also are experienced in handling high-profile cases and clients with the utmost discretion, and awareness of the unique issues arising from such cases. If these concerns apply to you, contact us to discuss how we might address your particular needs.