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.
IN WHAT SITUATIONS MAY SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE BE GRANTED?
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.
HOW ARE SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE PAYMENT AMOUNTS DETERMINED?
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.
WHAT ARE THE COURT’S PRIORITIES IN THESE CASES?
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.