Author: Julie Glade

Taxes & Divorce In Indiana

If you divorce in the state of Indiana, dealing with your ex will not be your only concern. You also have to deal with the IRS. Keep reading, and find out how your divorce affects your taxes.

Assets are transferred in almost every divorce, and that transfer impacts your federal taxes.

This is a brief look at how divorce affects your taxes, but if you have specific questions about your own divorce and taxes, you’ll need reliable, personalized legal advice.


That’s why, in an Indiana divorce, you must have advice and representation from an experienced Lake County divorce attorney – someone who has answers to questions about taxes and divorce.

While the impact of a divorce on your income taxes may be slight or substantial, the insights and advice that a knowledgeable divorce attorney can provide will help you steer clear of tax trouble.

If your divorce was finalized on or after January 1st, you may still submit a joint return if, all of last year, you were legally married – and if your ex agrees to file jointly.


A joint return almost always lets you pay less to the Internal Revenue Service.

But before you file your federal income tax return, speak with your financial advisor and your divorce attorney regarding the pros and cons of submitting a joint return.

When ex-spouses file taxes jointly for the previous tax year, each becomes liable for the taxes as well as any interest, penalties, and deficiencies.

You may need a tax indemnification agreement if you submit a joint return with your ex.


A tax indemnification agreement makes one ex-spouse liable for deficiencies, penalties, and interest due on joint returns filed previously, and the agreement shields the other ex-spouse.

If you file jointly, and if you do not have a tax indemnification agreement, you could be deemed liable for any underpayment.

That’s why it is imperative to have your divorce attorney make certain that your final agreement decree explains exactly how you and your ex-spouse will handle any tax refund or tax liability.


Your filing status is determined, at least partially, by whether you were still married or already legally divorced on the final day of the tax year.

If your final divorce decree was issued at any time during the previous tax year – even December 31st – you’ll file your tax return as if you were not married at all during that year.

When that is the case, your filing status should be “head of household” or “single.” You must satisfy these requirements to file as “head of household”:

1. On the last day of the year, you were not married.
2. You paid more than half of the household’s expenses during the year.
3. A “qualifying person” lived in the home with you for more than half of the year.
4. You are eligible to take an exemption for your child.

A custodial parent may transfer the exemption for the child to the non-custodial parent.

In this case, the custodial parent will sign a written statement that he or she is not claiming the child as a dependent, and the non-custodial parent includes that statement with his or her return.

If a final decree in your divorce was not issued at any time in the previous tax year, and you are filing as head of household, your ex must file under “married filing separately” status.


If your divorce became final during the last tax year, a number of questions emerge, such as:

How do you handle mortgage interest and property taxes you paid on a jointly-owned home? What do you do with interest derived from a joint savings account?

All income and expenses in a marriage are considered equally earned or paid if you reside in a “community property” state, but Indiana is an “equitable distribution” state.

Even so, each ex-spouse is normally taxed for one-half of any income generated by any assets or properties up to the time that asset or property is transferred solely to one ex-spouse or the other.


There is no “alimony” in an Indiana divorce, but in very narrow circumstances, you may be ordered to pay or permitted to receive “spousal maintenance” by an Indiana court.

In this state, if you expect to make spousal maintenance payments, or if you believe you will receive those payments, you must know how spousal maintenance will affect your taxes.

Current law lets an ex-spouse deduct spousal maintenance payments, and the ex who receives spousal maintenance must consider it income and pay taxes on it.

While that remains the rule in 2018 (for tax year 2017), beginning in 2019 (for tax year 2018), the new spousal maintenance rule will be the mirror opposite of the current rule.

Starting in 2019, when you submit a return, the ex who makes spousal support payments won’t be allowed to deduct them, and the ex-spouse receiving spousal support will not be taxed for it.


Child support does not constitute income, so custodial parents are not taxed for the child support they receive.

If you want to avoid tax troubles arising from a divorce, knowing what is at stake is imperative. What is provided here is merely an introductory look at the effect a divorce will have on your taxes.

As you would imagine, more affluent couples with more assets and properties will usually find it more difficult to resolve divorce-related financial disputes.

And even when nothing is disputed, resolving the tax issues arising from a divorce is also usually more difficult for couples with considerable properties and assets.


But taxes and tax questions should not prevent you from divorcing or from obtaining the fair and just divorce agreement that you deserve.

Here in Indiana, let an experienced Lake County divorce attorney answer your financial and legal questions and guide you through the divorce process – from the very beginning.

If you divorce, you must have reliable, reputable legal counsel. You’ll want an advocate who aggressively represents your rights and interests.

The rest of your life will depend on how your divorce is handled and settled, so you must have trustworthy, experienced legal help from the beginning of an Indiana divorce. That is your right.

Can An Adoption Be Challenged?

Adoption should be a joyful event, but seeking to adopt a child can sometimes be a daunting task.

Indiana law, in some cases, allows legal or biological parents to contest an adoption, but those who seek to adopt also have rights under state law.

How can parents contest an adoption? And if you are seeking to adopt, what can you do if your adoption is challenged?

A contested adoption is almost always a highly-charged, tense emotional situation.

An adoption is “contested” in Indiana when a legal or biological parent challenges the adoption, and the prospective adoptive parents respond by rejecting the challenge and moving forward with the adoption process.

In the state of Indiana, in any matter involving a child that comes before a court, without exception, the best interests of the child will be the court’s highest priority.

Prospective adoptive parents must either have the consent of the child’s legal or biological parent or parents prior to an adoption, or else the prospective parents must have other legal grounds that allow the adoption to proceed.


Indiana state law actually spells out twelve distinct circumstances – listed below – where a legal or biological parent’s consent to an adoption is not required.

A contested Indiana adoption will be allowed to move forward if the contesting parent is deemed unfit, has abandoned the child, or has failed to communicate with or support the child.

– To be more specific, consent for an adoption is not required from:

– a biological father or mother who has been deemed unfit by a court

– a biological father who has denied his paternity at any time

– a biological father or mother who abandoned the child for at least six months immediately prior to the filing of the adoption petition

– a biological father or mother who, while the child was in someone else’s care and custody, failed for a year or more to communicate meaningfully or to offer financial support for the child

– a biological father who hasn’t established his paternity of an out-of-wedlock child

– a biological father of an out-of-wedlock child conceived through child molestation, rape, incest, or sexual misconduct with a minor

– a putative father whose consent is implied, or who established paternity after the filing of the adoption petition, or who did not register as a putative father

– a biological father or mother who has waived any right to consent or whose parental rights have been terminated by a court

– a parent declared mentally defective or incompetent by a court

– a guardian who has failed to consent but has no grounds to contest the adoption

Additionally, consent to adoption is not needed from a biological or legal parent if that parent has been convicted for one or more of the offenses listed here and the victim of the crime was the child’s other biological or legal parent: murder, voluntary manslaughter, or causing a suicide; any attempt to commit one of those crimes; or any crime in another state that is comparable to one of those crimes.

Finally, consent to adoption is not needed from a biological or legal parent if that parent has been convicted for one or more of the offenses listed here and the victim of the crime is another child of that parent: murder, voluntary manslaughter, or causing a suicide; child molestation, incest, rape, or any other sex crime; battery, neglect or abandonment.

If you are seeking to adopt, a denial of your petition can be a disappointing delay, but it is not the end of the process. An experienced Lake County adoption attorney can help you file an immediate appeal that will fix any mistakes or correct any misunderstandings on the initial petition for adoption.


When you file an appeal, your attorney will explain to the court why the denial of your adoption petition was the wrong decision and why you should be approved to adopt.

This raises the question: On what grounds will a court deny a prospective adoptive parent’s petition for adoption?

An adoption petition in the state of Indiana might be denied for reasons including but not limited to:

– Failure to pass a background check for prospective adoptive parents

– Failure to prove that you have the financial means to support a child

– Failing to complete the mandatory training or the home visit

– Failing to have the birth mother’s consent or failing to demonstrate that her consent isn’t required


If your petition to adopt is denied, you’ll have only a limited amount of time to file your appeal.

An adoption attorney can explain the court’s decision, determine the filing deadline for an appeal, and put your effort to adopt back on track toward a successful outcome.

Listed here are the requirements under Indiana law to become an adoptive parent:

– You must pass several background checks including an FBI fingerprint check.

– You must have the financial means to care adequately for a child.

– You must have enough room in your residence for a new child.

– You must complete the required training.

– Your home must be visited and approved.


Married, single, and divorced adults are all potentially eligible to adopt in Indiana.

A married individual may only adopt together with his or her spouse.

Unmarried partners cannot adopt together; in such a case, one partner will have to function as a single petitioner.

Provided there is room in the home, and provided that the financial means exist to support the child being adopted, it does not matter if the prospective parent already has other biological or adopted children.

Finally, prospective adoptive parents in Indiana should know that while some adoptions can be completed in about ninety days, if your adoption is contested, the entire process could end up taking six months or more.

A Lake County adoption attorney can answer all of your questions, prepare and file your adoption petition, and handle the legal side of the adoption process on your behalf.

Preparing For A Child Custody Mediation

Nothing can cause more anxiety or concern for a parent than a battle over the custody of a child. During and even after a divorce, you may have concerns about who’s raising your children, when and if you can see them, and what the future has in store. You’re about to learn how to prepare for a child custody dispute and how the mediation process might be the best path for you to take.

In almost every area of the law, judges and attorneys are seeking alternatives to costly, lengthy, and emotionally-draining courtroom battles. Mediation is one of those alternatives. In the state of Indiana, mediation is frequently the choice for resolving divorces, custody battles, and other family law disputes. Mediation is almost always less costly and stressful than a courtroom trial.

In a child custody mediation, both parents and their attorneys confer with a neutral mediator regarding the custody of the child. No judge participates or is even present at the mediation sessions, although a judge will be asked to “sign off” on any agreement that the parents reach. If no agreement is achieved in mediation, a full custody trial may be required.


It’s imperative to be well-prepared for a child custody mediation. For some parents, preparation will be the key to winning custody of your child. If mediation fails, your preparation has not been wasted, because it puts you in a good position for going to trial.

To be as well-prepared as possible for a child custody mediation:

– Take the time to compile all of the pertinent information and evidence that you need.
– Outline and understand the issues in the dispute.
– Establish your goals and be proactive in achieving them.

As a parent seeking custody of your child, it is essential to have all of the information that you need. Here in Indiana, an experienced Lake County child custody attorney can file discovery motions, request subpoenas, and conduct depositions under oath to help a parent gather the information and evidence that may be needed in the course of the mediation process.


Your attorney may file a motion for disclosure to begin the discovery procedure. A motion for disclosure requires the disclosure of information such as the names of persons who have knowledge of relevant facts in the case and the names of any expert witnesses the other side intends to question. Your attorney can also request documents, such as income tax returns, that may be pertinent to your case.

Written discovery motions and “interrogatories” – written questions that must be answered in writing and under oath – are the least costly way to compile evidence in the discovery phase of a child custody contest. Due to the high cost of a deposition – a face-to-face interrogation conducted under oath and transcribed by a court reporter – depositions are not usually conducted in the discovery phase of a child custody case.

As you gather information to prepare for the child custody mediation sessions, begin to clarify the issues that you want to discuss during mediation, and make certain that you understand those issues. Don’t hesitate to organize your thoughts on paper or to discuss the issues that are important to you with your attorney.


During the mediation sessions, you need to be able to explain, diplomatically, why you should have custody of your child and your child’s other parent should not.

There might be any number of reasons why one parent should have custody and the other should not, so no list can be exhaustive, but some of the specific reasons why parents seek custody include:

– Your child has special needs that are being overlooked.
– Your neighborhood has less crime and/or better schools.
– Your child’s other parent cohabits with an abusive partner.
– Your child’s other parent has mental health or substance abuse issues.


Overall, the most important preparation for a child custody mediation is knowing your goals and objectives and discussing them thoroughly with your attorney. Let’s say that your primary goal is the sole custody of your child. If your primary goal begins to look impossible, have a Plan B – maybe physical custody of your child in a joint legal custody arrangement, for example – and even a Plan C.

Be certain that you and your attorney are on the same page and are pursuing the same strategy and tactics throughout the mediation process. Your family law attorney must be someone that you like and someone that you are entirely comfortable working with and trusting. In Gary, Lake County, and northwest Indiana, parents in any child custody dispute will need to be advised and represented by a child custody attorney.

As a general rule of thumb, family courts in Indiana usually want a child to have healthy relationships with both parents and to spend time with both parents. Courts and mediators encourage divorced, divorcing, or never-married parents to work together on matters like custody, visitation details, and child support. Mediation facilitates such agreements and works to reduce the level of acrimony and stress that typically accompany courtroom custody battles.

Parents entering into child custody mediation should understand that if they cannot reach a custody agreement through the mediation process, the mediator will probably make his or her own recommendation to the judge based on what transpired in the mediation sessions. In most cases where mediation fails, an Indiana family court will accept the mediator’s recommendation regarding the custody of the child.


When parents agree to mediation, both should be willing to cooperate and to make some compromises. What mediation requires is a cooperative attitude. When a divorce was or is acrimonious, or when the parents actively distrust or express antagonism to one another, mediation probably is not the right path for those parents.

You wouldn’t trade your relationship and your future with your child for any amount of money. If a child custody dispute arises, a Lake County child custody attorney can help. For many families in Indiana, mediation will be the best possible way to resolve a child custody dispute.

However, the mediation process only works if both parents bring a spirit of cooperation to the mediation sessions – and if they come well-prepared. If you know your goals and how you want to reach those goals in a child custody dispute, contact a family law attorney at once to learn more about mediation.

What Happens When Older Couples Divorce?

It’s a startling trend – a sharp jump in the number of “gray” divorces, that is, divorces among couples age 50 and older. Could your own marriage be in trouble? Could your savings and retirement accounts be at risk? If you are involved in a “gray” divorce, what should you know, and what must you do? Keep reading, and you’ll learn what every married person in Indiana needs to know.

It is not easy to divorce a partner of thirty or more years, but if that is your decision – or your spouse’s decision – before you take any action, consult an experienced Lake County divorce attorney. You will get honest and sound legal advice specific to your own circumstances. A good divorce lawyer will explain all of your options and protect your rights and interests throughout an Indiana divorce proceeding.

Gray divorces are different in several ways. When younger couples divorce, they still have one or two decades to pursue a career and build retirement funds. But when couples who divorce are in their 50s and 60s, their careers are winding down – or they’re over – and some people at that age are already living on Social Security payments and/or the retirement benefits they earned when they were younger.


The financial aspects of a divorce can present considerable challenges for divorcing couples who are at or near retirement age. An experienced Lake County divorce attorney will consider a client’s retirement accounts, Social Security benefits, and health insurance costs, and will fight aggressively to protect that client’s rights, assets, and interests throughout an Indiana divorce proceeding.

Another difference between gray divorces and younger divorces is the role of the children. Child custody and child support, of course, are rarely part of a gray divorce. Instead, adult children sometimes try to place themselves in the middle of a divorce proceeding and demand “a say” in how the divorce is settled.

If there is any suspicion that an adult child is manipulating a parent for personal gain in a divorce, competency may become an issue for the court. It’s smart if you try not to lean on your adult children during a divorce. A friend closer to your own age – with no direct emotional or financial stake in your divorce – can listen to you with more understanding and objectivity.


Every divorce divides the assets and property that a couple has acquired during the marriage. Homes, other real estate holdings, vehicles, family businesses, and all varieties of personal property are divided in the divorce procedure, but some of the largest assets a couple may have after a lengthy marriage are retirement funds and benefits that one or both partners have built up throughout the marriage.

In most Indiana divorces, pensions and retirement accounts are evenly divided, but the full value of a retirement plan or a pension is not always marital property – and thus is not always subject to division. Only the retirement funds acquired during the marriage are subject to division. An experienced Indiana divorce lawyer can see to it that the retirement funds that are rightfully yours are protected and remain yours in a divorce.

Even if you and your spouse carefully planned for the future while you were married, after a divorce, it is usually best to create a new estate plan “from scratch.” You will need to make some adjustments if you no longer want your ex to be named in your will or named as a beneficiary of any accounts or insurance policies. You should also update any and all medical care and trust documents appropriately.


If you’re over fifty, and you are divorcing, your attorney will handle the legal and financial side of the divorce, but you also must consider the emotional side. Here too, a gray divorce differs from a younger divorce.

These are some recommendations that have helped others through the transition in their 50s and 60s:

Stand up for yourself. Your finances and your plans for the future are your business and no one else’s, so do not cave in to pressure or intimidation from your ex, or even from your children.

Make new friends. Join clubs and organizations. Volunteer. Take the time to enjoy some recreational pursuits.

Why not start dating again? Even if there’s no “chemistry,” you’re still making friends, and you’re old enough to know that you can never have too many of those.

Forgive yourself. We have all made mistakes earlier in our lives, but what matters is moving forward in a positive and constructive way.

According to researchers at Bowling Green State University, the divorce rate for those age fifty and above doubled in the United States from 1990 to 2010. The “gray” divorce rate right now is about fifteen percent. In a world that views marriage quite differently from the way the world viewed it fifty years ago, some people in their 50s and 60s now want to explore more of life and the world and more of their own interests.


If you are divorcing at any age, understanding what to expect can eliminate confusion and allow you to concentrate on the issues. Before you enter a courtroom, be prepared. Have your attorney answer all of your questions. Read as much of the paperwork associated with the case as you can. You’ll have more confidence, and you’ll be able to give your divorce attorney more help as the case proceeds.

Telling the truth is imperative. Any exaggeration, misrepresentation, or deception will damage your case and your credibility in the courtroom. Prior to an Indiana divorce proceeding, the partners must complete a number of documents verifying their assets, incomes, properties, and expenses. Even if it’s painful, you must fill out these forms accurately and honestly. Your divorce lawyer will help.

Of course, every divorce is difficult, and like so much in life, when you’re older, it’s a little more difficult. If you are over fifty and you are divorcing in Indiana, you must have the advice and services of an experienced Lake County divorce attorney – someone who will fight vigorously on your behalf while guiding you through the divorce process.

Filing For Child Support In The State Of Indiana

If you are a parent considering or anticipating a divorce in Indiana, or if you were never married to your child’s other parent, will you be able to receive child support? What steps must you take? And if you are ordered to pay child support, how much will it be? Every family and every divorce is different, but keep reading, and you’ll learn the basics about receiving or paying child support in the state of Indiana.

When a divorce is finalized, or if the parents of a child or children were never married, both parents are equally obligated to support their child financially. If parents can voluntarily agree upon an amount the non-custodial parent will pay in child support to the custodial parent, an Indiana judge will usually sign off on that arrangement. Such voluntary agreements, unfortunately, are rare.

In fact, child support disputes are common both during and after a divorce as well as between parents who never married. In the state of Indiana, if you have been awarded custody of your child or children in a divorce, or if you were never married to your child’s other parent, what must you do to receive child support payments? How can you be sure that you’ll get what you need, when you need it?


To receive child support payments in Indiana, you must get a court order. If you were not married to the other parent, you will first have to establish paternity (if you have not already done so). In most cases, an experienced Lake County family law attorney can help you establish paternity and/or obtain a court order for child support. Don’t hesitate to get the legal help you need.

If you are a parent and you are divorcing or anticipating divorce, a child support order is usually part of the final divorce decree, so you will need to have an experienced Lake County divorce lawyer represent you and protect your rights from the very beginning of the divorce process. How much can you expect to receive? If you’re the non-custodial parent, what can you expect to pay?


Indiana courts use standard child support guidelines to calculate a fair and appropriate child support amount. The assets, debts, and incomes of both parents are taken into account, along with expenses like health insurance and child care. The amount of time that the non-custodial parent spends with the child is also considered.

The state’s child support guidelines consider a parent’s gross weekly income as well as any in-kind income such as free meals or housing, the use of a company car, and other income that reduces a parent’s expenses. The court may also take “potential” income into account when a parent has no income but is able to earn an income.

Finally, the court may adjust the standard calculated child support amount if it believes a different amount is warranted in any individual situation. In any legal matter before an Indiana court that involves a child, that court will make its decision based on what it believes is the best interests of the child.

Only a few non-custodial parents in this state are exempted from paying child support. Indiana courts do not generally require child support payments from a parent who has been diagnosed with a mental incapacity, a parent who is serving time in a jail or prison, or a parent who is already caring for another child when that other child is disabled.


When a parent in Indiana fails to make court-ordered child support payments, interest can be charged at 1.5 percent per month. If you are a custodial parent and you are not receiving the child support payments that you need, a Lake County family law attorney can ask the court to enforce the child support order on your behalf. In Indiana, child support enforcement may include:

– reporting the debt to a credit agency to impact negatively the parent’s credit score
– seizure of state or federal tax refunds, insurance settlements, or lottery winnings
– revoking or denying the parent’s passport
– placing a lien on the parent’s personal vehicle
– suspension of state-issued licenses including driver’s licenses, professional licenses, and fishing or hunting licenses


Everyone’s circumstances eventually change over time. You – or your child’s other parent – may relocate, change jobs, be convicted of a crime, or become sick or disabled. After a divorce, many parents marry a new partner and have another child. When your situation changes, or when the other parent’s situation changes, the child support order may also need to change.

A Lake County family law attorney can help you obtain a child support order modification from the court – or if necessary, help you contest a modification request that your child’s other parent has made. If you are behind on child support payments because you’ve been unemployed, injured, or disabled, you can’t just stop making payments.

Instead, you must have the child support order modified. A Lake County family law attorney can help. Child support orders usually do not change – unless a parent requests a modification – until the child turns 19. Non-custodial parents in Indiana typically pay child support until a child turns 19, gets married, dies, starts active military duty, or is no longer under the care of a parent, foster parent, guardian, or state agency.


When more than one child is covered by a child support order, it is vital for the parents to realize that in Indiana, a support order is not automatically modified because one child has turned age 19. At that time, a non-custodial parent will need to request a child support order modification to determine a recalculated payment figure for the remaining children.

Nothing is more important than your child. In the state of Indiana, if you are not receiving the court-ordered child support payments you need in a timely manner, if you are having trouble making those payments in a timely manner, or if you need to have your current child support order modified by the court, have an experienced Lake County family law attorney explain your rights and options and then work on your behalf.

Spousal Maintenance In Indiana

In any divorce proceeding, the most likely matters of dispute between the divorcing spouses will be child custody and child support (if the divorcing spouses are parents), the division of joint marital property and assets, and the question of alimony payments.

Spousal maintenance – commonly called “alimony” – may be awarded in an Indiana divorce, but only in the narrowest kinds of circumstances. In fact, strictly legally speaking, there is no “alimony” in the state of Indiana, but in specific divorces and in particular situations, one ex-spouse may be ordered by an Indiana court to make spousal maintenance payments to the other ex.

What kinds of divorce cases and narrow circumstances can generate a spousal maintenance order from an Indiana court? There’s no single answer to that question. Every divorce is different and every couple’s circumstances are different. If you are divorcing in this state, our experienced Lake County family law attorneys can review your case and determine if a request for spousal maintenance might be a consideration in your divorce proceeding.


An experienced Indiana divorce attorney can advocate aggressively on your behalf for – or against – a request for spousal maintenance payments. Your attorney can protect you from receiving too little in spousal maintenance or from paying too much. Generally speaking, in the state of Indiana, spousal maintenance payments will only be ordered by the court in a divorce proceeding:

Generally speaking, in the state of Indiana, spousal maintenance payments will only be ordered by the court in a divorce proceeding:

If an ex-spouse is partially or wholly unable to support himself or herself because of a mental or physical incapacity, the other ex may be ordered to make spousal maintenance payments “indefinitely,” that is, for the duration of the condition of incapacity.

If an ex-spouse must remain unemployed because he or she has legal custody of a child who requires full-time care due to a physical or mental incapacity, a judge may compel the other ex to pay spousal maintenance until those circumstances change.

If one ex-spouse lacks temporarily the ability, capacity, or resources to support himself or herself adequately, the other ex may be ordered by the court to pay “rehabilitative maintenance” for as long as three years.

Under Indiana law, rehabilitative maintenance payments are limited to a maximum duration of three years, but in the other two types of cases, payments are to be made until additional action is taken by the court. Indiana courts look at a number of factors when a spousal maintenance request is under consideration: the spouses’ educations, work experiences and skills,

Indiana courts look at a number of factors when a spousal maintenance request is under consideration: the spouses’ educations, work experiences and skills, earning abilities, and the amount of time each spouse was employed – or not employed while raising children. The projected cost of an ex-spouse’s vocational training or other vocational or educational needs may also be a consideration for the court.


Indiana divorce law establishes no precise guidelines or formulas regarding an appropriate figure for spousal maintenance payments. While some states are now relying on complicated formulas and even customized computer software to determine appropriate alimony or maintenance payment amounts, lawmakers in our own state have given the courts – meaning the judges – a great deal of latitude in handling spousal maintenance requests. Indiana judges must bring their own discretion and personal experience to every maintenance request determination.

Divorce is always difficult. In Gary, Hammond, and anywhere else in or near Lake County, before you make a final choice for divorce – or before you take any other legal action regarding your marriage, your family, or your children – arrange to have a frank discussion regarding your rights, options, and expectations with an experienced Lake County divorce attorney.

You will particularly need an attorney’s advice and services if you are:

– requesting a spousal maintenance order
– disputing a request for spousal maintenance
– requesting a modification to a current spousal maintenance order
– disputing a request for a modification to a current spousal maintenance order

A spousal maintenance order issued at the time of a divorce is never the final word on the matter. When the conditions and circumstances inevitably change in your own life or your ex-spouse’s life, the court may hear a request by either ex-spouse to amend the order for spousal maintenance.

The other ex-spouse may challenge that request or may file his or her own request for a different modification of the maintenance order. In either case, it’s imperative to have an experienced Lake County divorce attorney – a family law lawyer you trust – advocating on your behalf.

If divorcing spouses can agree regarding a spousal maintenance arrangement, they can save both time and money, but divorcing spouses must understand that Indiana courts will strictly enforce the terms of even a voluntary agreement. Regarding a voluntary spousal maintenance agreement, Indiana courts will assume that both sides came to the agreement freely and that both sides fully understand the agreement’s terms and conditions. In some Indiana divorces, a prenuptial or postnuptial contract may dictate the terms of a spousal maintenance arrangement.


A “lump sum” spousal maintenance payment is one option that should almost always be considered by both parties. However, the voluntary nature of a spousal maintenance agreement does not prohibit either ex-spouse from requesting a modification order from the court.

Indiana courts maintain two priorities when considering a spousal maintenance request or a maintenance modification request. The overriding priority for the court – when divorcing or divorced spouses are parents – is the best interests of the child or children.

Secondly, the courts try to ensure that both divorcing spouses are treated fairly. However, that fair treatment doesn’t always happen in every divorce proceeding, and that’s why anyone who is seeking or anticipating a divorce in this state will require experienced, high-quality legal counsel. For many who are divorcing, anxieties about children, finances, and the future may be nearly overwhelming. Having the right attorney handle your divorce may relieve some of that apprehension.

Divorce, maintenance, and custody laws are particularly complex in this state, and almost every divorce has its own unique complications. Thus, whether you’re anxious about a divorce or confident and expectant, you’ll need an experienced Indiana divorce lawyer on your side, someone who handles divorces routinely, a skilled legal advocate who will protect your rights and your long-term interests while bringing your divorce to its best possible resolution.

Are There Personal Injury Caps In Indiana?

Under Indiana law, when someone acts carelessly, and as a result, someone else is injured, the victimized person is entitled to compensation and may pursue a personal injury lawsuit to obtain that compensation. If you are injured, for example, by a negligent motorist, a careless doctor, a defective consumer product, or the negligence of a property owner, you can seek compensation for the medical bills, the days lost from work, and all related costs and damages.

However, to obtain the compensation you are entitled to, in the Merrillville area and in northern Indiana, you’ll need the help of an experienced Lake County personal injury attorney. In most Indiana injury cases, the personal injury process is straightforward. The injury victim – the “plaintiff” – must demonstrate that the “defendant” behaved negligently and thus is liable for any injury or injuries to the plaintiff. If the plaintiff can prove his or her case, the defendant agrees to or is ordered by the court to reimburse the plaintiff for the injuries and damages.

In most cases, personal injury law is not about “punishing” defendants. Rather, the purpose – to the extent that’s realistically possible – is to return the plaintiff and his or her life and health to “normal” after suffering a personal injury. In a successful personal injury claim, the amount received by the plaintiff is considered reimbursement or compensation. Only in the rarest personal injury cases are “punitive” damages – aimed at punishing a defendant’s negligence – awarded to victims.


A personal injury settlement or verdict almost always includes complete payment for all of a plaintiff’s injury-related medical costs. If medical care must be continued into the future, the projected cost of that future care is included, and if the victim remains unable to return to work – whether permanently or temporarily – compensation is included for the victim’s lost “earning capacity” or lost future wages. Emotional suffering and pain are also sometimes compensated.

When injuries are permanently disabling, and particularly if the victim is a young person who will struggle for decades, the final amount of damages in a personal injury case may be quite sizable. Some states, therefore, have established damage “caps,” limits on the amount that a personal injury plaintiff may obtain. Indiana caps compensation for medical malpractice claims and for some wrongful death claims.


According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the three leading causes of death here in the United States are heart disease, cancer – and medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is defined in law as a violation of the “reasonable standard of care” provided by most doctors, but it’s sometimes difficult for an injured person to know if he or she is a medical malpractice victim. Every malpractice case is unique, and every allegation must be thoroughly examined from the medical and legal perspectives.

Medical malpractice, however, constitutes much more than surgical errors like removing the wrong organ or limb. It can include misdiagnosis or the failure to diagnose a medical condition, prescribing the wrong medicine, or any act of carelessness by a healthcare professional that harms or injures a patient. If your health has declined because treatment was delayed due to a misdiagnosis, you may be a victim of medical malpractice.

The state of Indiana has established a damage cap for medical malpractice awards, but not for any other type of personal injury award. Since July 2017, the medical malpractice award cap in Indiana is $1.65 million. An Indiana victim of medical malpractice cannot obtain a greater amount of compensation. It doesn’t matter what the injuries and medical care actually cost in the long run.

The $1.65 million damage cap is the most a medical malpractice victim can receive for all medical bills, all income and earning capacity losses, and all pain, suffering, and emotional damages. The first $400,000 of damages is paid by the defendant (the healthcare provider), and the Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund covers any amount above $400,000. Indiana’s medical malpractice damage cap will increase in 2019 to $1.8 million, and the first $500,000 is to be covered by the defendant.


Indiana caps damage awards in some but not all cases of wrongful death. There is no cap on damages awarded to families for the wrongful death of a person under the age of 20 or a person between the age 20 and age 23 who was enrolled as a student. However, if a wrongful death victim is age 23 or older and has no dependents, that individual’s estate cannot receive over $300,000 in damages with a wrongful death claim in Indiana. No cap is imposed on wrongful death claims when those claims are filed by a surviving, dependent spouse or on behalf of a surviving minor child.


Damages are capped at $700,000 in this state for a single individual injured at a local, county, or state government facility if the governmental entity or one or more of its employees were negligent. The liability of an Indiana state or local governmental entity is capped at $5 million for any one accident with more than one victim, so some victims may not be able to obtain even the $700,000 sum. When a stage collapse injured more than a hundred persons in 2011 at the Indiana State Fair, the state’s lawmakers authorized an additional $6 million to enhance compensation for those victims.

The reason states establish damage caps is to protect insurers, businesses, and the state itself. Damage caps, however, are not always “unfair.” They can also keep medical and insurance costs down for everyone. For example, if a doctor injures a youthful and otherwise healthy patient through an act of medical malpractice, and the jurors decide that the patient should be awarded $10 million for a lifetime of care, the insurance company has to make up for that $10 million – by charging you more for healthcare coverage.

Indiana lawmakers have changed the damage caps for medical malpractice and wrongful death cases a number of times, and they are certain to make more changes in the future. Thus, anyone who is injured by an act of negligence in Merrillville, Gary, or any other nearby area should consult immediately with an experienced Lake County personal injury attorney regarding the possibility of filing a personal injury lawsuit.

How Does Alimony Work in the State of Indiana?

Alimony, as everyone knows, is the regular payment that an ex-spouse makes to the other ex-spouse after a divorce. Alimony has recently become quite controversial. Some say that alimony should be permanent when a marriage has endured for many years.

Others would abolish alimony entirely. Under the law in Indiana, there really is no such thing as “alimony,” but in particular divorces and under specific circumstances, an ex-spouse may be awarded “spousal maintenance” payments by the court as part of an Indiana divorce.

If you are divorcing in Indiana, an experienced Lake County family law attorney can explain if and how spousal maintenance might be a factor in your own divorce case – along with handling any or all of the other aspects of your divorce. A good divorce attorney can see to it that ex-spouses receive what they should receive or that ex-spouses are not ordered to pay more than they should pay.

Spousal maintenance is awarded in an Indiana divorce for these three reasons:

If the court determines that an ex-spouse is partly or completely unable to be self-supportive due to a physical or mental incapacity, the court may order the other ex-spouse to make spousal maintenance payments for the period of the incapacity.

If one ex-spouse has custody of a child whose mental or physical incapacity requires that ex-spouse to be unemployed, the court may order the other ex-spouse to make temporary spousal maintenance payments until there is a change of circumstances.

If an Indiana court determines that an ex-spouse temporarily lacks sufficient resources to provide for his or her own needs, the court may order the other ex-spouse to make “rehabilitative maintenance” payments for up to three years when the court decides that such payments are necessary and appropriate.


In any particular divorce, when determining if spousal maintenance payments should be awarded, in precisely what amount, and for exactly what length of time, a court in the state of Indiana will consider a wide variety of factors including the spouses’ educational backgrounds, training, job skills, work experience, earnings capacities, and the length of time either spouse has worked in or been away from the job market.

If one spouse interrupted a career or an education to assume homemaking or child-rearing duties during the marriage, the court will consider that interruption. The court will also take into account the cost and the length of time that may be necessary for an ex-spouse’s further education or vocational training. And when the divorcing spouses are also parents, an Indiana court will always make the “best interests” of the children the most important consideration in any divorce proceeding.

Indiana lawmakers have granted wide discretion to the state’s judges in matters related to spousal maintenance. Unlike some states where lawmakers have imposed guidelines and formulas on the courts, in Indiana, there are no statutory guidelines that determine how much spousal maintenance should be awarded in any particular divorce. Indiana judges, therefore, must use their own experience and discretion in determining spousal maintenance awards.


When a judge in Indiana orders rehabilitative maintenance payments for an ex-spouse to obtain education or job training and then employment, the limit is three years. However, if an ex-spouse is physically or mentally incapacitated or is caring for a child who is physically or mentally incapacitated, the maintenance payments may continue indefinitely until the court takes further action.

When circumstances do change, either spouse may petition the court to modify the spousal maintenance order. If you are paying or receiving spousal maintenance in Indiana, and circumstances have changed in your life – or your child’s or ex-spouse’s life – so that the original spousal maintenance order is no longer workable or reasonable, have a Lake County family law attorney petition the court on your behalf for a modification of the original court order.

Although it’s a routine legal procedure – everyone’s circumstances change over time – it’s possible that your ex may dispute the need for a modification, and you must remember that any ruling the court makes in cases involving a child will always place the best interests of the child first. But whether you need to request a modification of the original spousal support order, or you are contesting a modification requested by your ex, you’ll need the advice and services of an experienced Indiana family law attorney.


When divorcing spouses can reach their own agreements regarding spousal maintenance, child custody, child support, and the division of marital debts and assets, that couple will save themselves considerable time, money, and aggravation.

When ex-spouses agree on spousal maintenance, there is no need to provide evidence to the court about educations or incomes because an Indiana judge will hold both ex-spouses to the terms of their agreement and will presume that both ex-spouses understand the agreement and its ramifications.

However, when ex-spouses agree on spousal maintenance and the court “signs off” on that agreement, it does not prevent either spouse from seeking a modification of the agreement when circumstances change in the future.

The key concern regarding any spousal maintenance order is that it’s fair to both ex-spouses, and if they are parents, fair to their children as well. If you are divorcing in Indiana, the right divorce attorney will make sure that the spousal maintenance arrangement treats you fairly and justly.

If you (or your divorce attorney) expect that you will be ordered by the court to make spousal maintenance payments, the possibility of making a lump sum payment as opposed to payments over time should be considered before any hearings are scheduled or any agreements are reached. Divorce is never easy. Emotions often run high. For many people, concerns about finances, children, and the future can be almost overwhelming.

Moreover, divorce and child custody statutes are exceedingly complicated in Indiana, so you’re going to need someone who routinely handles divorce cases and someone who will advocate aggressively on your behalf. Before you enter into any divorce proceeding in this state, it is imperative to discuss your situation and your legal rights and options with an experienced Lake County family law attorney.

What Are Amended Birth Certificates?

All fifty states have established their own adoption laws and procedures. Those laws and procedures can vary significantly from one state to another. In the state of Indiana, those who are seeking to adopt a child will want to work with an adoption attorney who routinely deals with Indiana’s adoption laws and policies.

Adoption, to be precise, is the legal process where an adult individual or couple officially and legally assume the full parenting responsibilities for a child, and the child’s biological or legal parent or parents are permanently relieved of those responsibilities.

If you are seeking to adopt, you must understand that adoption is permanent. Both single individuals and married couples may adopt in Indiana, including same-sex couples. Individuals or couples in Indiana who are interested in adoption – as well as expectant mothers with their own questions about adoption – should seek legal advice directly from an experienced Lake County adoption attorney.

When a child is born in Indiana, an original birth certificate is issued. The birth certificate includes the date of birth, the time of birth, the names of the parent or parents, and sometimes additional information such as the name of the hospital where the child was born. Birth parents are given – or need to request – this original document. An “amended” birth certificate is the new birth certificate that is issued for an adopted child when an adoption is finalized. Amended birth certificates may also be issued for other reasons.


An amended birth certificate can include any or all of the information on the original birth certificate, but it replaces the birth parents’ names with the names of the adoptive parents – as if they are the biological parents – and the child’s name at birth is replaced with the child’s new name if the child’s name is being changed.

The amended birth certificate is given to the adoptive parents. It is the document that adoptees will use throughout their lives to enroll in schools and to obtain drivers’ licenses, passports, and other documents. Indiana’s amended birth certificates look like the originals and do not indicate that the child has been adopted.

In Indiana, for international adoptions as well for adoptions of children born in the U.S., the parents should file the adoption papers in their local jurisdiction with the help of an adoption lawyer. The paperwork will be handled by a local court which will issue a certificate of adoption.

When the adoption is final and the certificate of adoption is issued, it will be forwarded by the court to the Indiana State Department of Health, where the certificate of adoption will be used to create an amended Indiana birth certificate.


Information about the biological parents will be removed from the amended birth certificate, and new information regarding the adoptive parents will officially replace the original records. In 2016, Governor Mike Pence signed Senate Bill 91 into law, making Indiana the fourteenth state to give most adult adoptees access to their original birth certificate and adoption records. That law will become effective on July 1, 2018.

The current law already gives adults who were adopted in Indiana after 1994 complete access to their adoption and birth records, but those who were adopted in the state between 1941 and 1993 (Indiana’s “closed records” era) have until now been compelled to pursue a costly and burdensome process if they want to obtain their original birth certificate and adoption file information.

Indiana issues both short-form and long-form birth certificates. The short-form version is an 8.5 by 5.5-inch document that provides only the name of the child, the name of the parent or parents, the gender of the child, and the date and place of birth. The long-form version is a much more detailed birth record. In the past, the state of Indiana did not indicate the child’s gender on the short-form birth certificate, but that is no longer the case.

Adoption can be one of the most special events in a family’s life, but a successful adoption requires careful consideration of every detail at every stage of the process, which means that prospective adoptive parents should have the advice and services of an experienced Lake County adoption attorney.

Whether you are adopting a child born in the U.S. or another country, or if you want to adopt a stepchild or a child who is a relative, an Indiana adoption lawyer can address your questions and concerns, protect your family’s legal rights, guide you through the legal process, and make certain that you are pleased with the conditions and terms of the adoption.


Adoption, of course, is not the only reason why someone may want or need to obtain an amended birth certificate in Indiana. You can change the gender on your birth certificate – or any other information on the birth certificate – by requesting and obtaining a court order with the assistance of an Indiana family law attorney.

To change the gender on your birth certificate, you must:

  • present papers that document your sex-change surgery to a court in the county where you now reside
  • request and obtain a court order that instructs the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) to change the gender designation on your birth certificate
  • send a copy of the order to the ISDH with an $18.00 fee and a copy of a photo ID with your current address

To request and obtain a legal name change in Indiana, you must submit a petition to the court with the help of an Indiana family law attorney, and you must place a notice in a newspaper for at least three weeks and at least thirty days before the hearing on your petition.

Inmates currently confined by the Indiana Department of Corrections cannot have their names changed while in custody. If you have a felony conviction in the last ten years, there will be additional requirements before your name can be changed legally and your birth certificate can be amended.

Adoptions in Indiana require a number of legal steps. In almost all Indiana adoptions, adoptive parents must file a petition for adoption, obtain consents from the biological parents if possible, participate in an extensive “home study,” and more.

To make it even more complicated, the procedures may vary from one case to another depending on the details of the adoption, so for any Indiana individual or couple seeking to adopt, the advice and services of an experienced Indiana family law attorney are essential.

An Overview of Temporary Guardianship In Indiana

When a minor child’s parent lives with and has legal responsibility over that child, the legal term is “custody,” but when anyone else has custody and legal responsibility over a child, the law calls it “guardianship.”

A guardian is someone other than a child’s parent who has legal custody of a child, the right to make all decisions regarding the child, and legal responsibility for the child. A temporary guardianship in the state of Indiana, however, makes someone a child’s guardian only for a specific reason and only for a specific length of time.

Temporary guardianship of a child in Indiana should not be confused with “testamentary” guardianship – these are two entirely different situations. A testamentary guardian is the person named in a parent’s will to be a child’s guardian if the parent or parents become deceased. A temporary guardian may be named either by the child’s parent or parents or by a court.

Temporary guardianship of a child may be established for several reasons in the state of Indiana:

Substitution: A temporary guardian’s appointment is appropriate if a parent will be unavailable to act as a parent for a short period of time. A temporary guardian’s appointment is appropriate for situations like a long hospital stay, for example, or a brief period of incarceration.

Incapacitation: A temporary guardian’s appointment is appropriate if a parent temporarily cannot care adequately for a child due to physical, mental, emotional, or economic incapacitation.

Emergency: A temporary guardian’s appointment is appropriate in emergency situations when a parent does not have the time required to name a long-term or permanent guardian. Most Indiana family lawyers understand that emergencies arise and are available to help on short notice.


Temporary guardianship ends in Indiana when the reason the temporary guardianship was established ends – for example, at the end of a hospital stay or a period of incarceration. In many cases, temporary guardianships will be established by a court order, especially if the circumstances are urgent and the child or children need a guardian at once. The temporary guardian may then take responsibility for the child or children until a more long-term or permanent arrangement can be established.

How does a parent in Indiana go about arranging for a temporary guardianship? First, that parent should determine if establishing a temporary guardianship is genuinely necessary. Discussing your circumstances with an experienced family law attorney may be helpful.

If a parent shares custody with the child’s other parent, a temporary guardianship with another adult may not be needed. If a temporary guardian is genuinely needed, you must select as your child’s temporary guardian an adult whom you trust. A temporary guardian should probably be a friend of yours that your children already know well, someone they have already spent substantial time with.


Of course, when it comes to children, you can never assume anything. Directly ask the person you would like to name as a temporary guardian if he or she is available, willing, and up to the task of temporary guardianship.

If a person agrees to become your child’s or children’s temporary guardian, be sure to inform him or her regarding any medical concerns such as allergies. Make sure that both of you understand and agree on things like sleeping arrangements, the use of over-the-counter medications, and how to contact you if necessary in an emergency.

If you need a temporary guardian for your child or children for an extremely short amount of time – let’s say that you expect to be in the hospital for only three or four days – you can probably avoid having to name a temporary guardian.

You can simply let your child or children – especially older children – stay with and be supervised by someone you trust during your hospitalization. Even then, however, you should make absolutely certain that your friend can act as your child’s health care representative.

To name a friend as your child’s health care representative, you will need to complete a document or form – several are available online for downloading – that authorizes your friend to obtain necessary medical care for your child or children. The document should also include your own name, the children’s names and dates of birth, and your friend’s name.

You must sign the document, and another adult also must sign it as a witness. If possible, you should have the document notarized by an Indiana notary public. The document will then allow your friend to obtain any necessary medical care for your child or children.

You do not necessarily need to become the temporary guardian of a child who is not your own but who is residing temporarily in your home – for instance, if your own child’s friend is staying with your family for a few days or weeks. But if a child who is not your own is living in your home for any length of time, if you do not have temporary guardianship, it is imperative to have a health care document for the child.


Whenever an Indiana legal proceeding involves a child, the court always makes the child’s best interests the leading priority. If you are asking an Indiana court to name a temporary guardian for your child or children, you should be able to show the court that naming a temporary guardian will benefit the child’s best interests.

You’ll certainly need the help that a Lake County family law attorney can provide. And everyone involved should understand fully that the temporary guardian of a child assumes all parental responsibilities and supervises the child’s education, housing, food, clothing, and medical care for the duration of the temporary guardianship.

All guardianship arrangements and agreements in Indiana typically require the assistance and guidance of a qualified family law attorney. If you need to name a temporary guardian for your own child or children in Indiana, obtain the assistance of an experienced Lake County family law attorney.

Even the simple naming of a temporary guardian may require some extensive legal paperwork. A good family law attorney can explain how the guardianship laws apply to your particular circumstances and resolve any mistakes or misunderstandings that may arise during the legal process.