How to prepare financially for divorce in Indiana

When couples in Indiana divorce, many are extremely concerned about the impact dissolving their marriage will have on their financial stability. However, there are certain steps divorcing spouses can take before issues like the division of property and child custody are addressed to ensure their best financial interests are protected.

Steps to take

According to Forbes, there are several things divorcing spouses should do to stay organized during the divorce process and to elevate their chances of a positive outcome.

First, spouses should gather any relevant documents related to their bank and brokerage accounts, such as credit card statements, tax returns and mortgage documents, make copies of them and store them in a safety deposit box or entrust them to a friend or family member so that their future ex-spouse cannot take them away and prevent access to them when the documents are needed.

Second, divorcing spouses should monitor their spending and analyze what their income was like during the marriage and what types of expenses they incurred regularly.

Third, those embarking on the divorce process should open new bank accounts and credit cards in their name at an institution where their future ex-spouse does not bank. Spouses who are about to get a divorce who were not the primary source of income during their marriage should make sure that they complete this step while they are still married.

Lastly, divorcing spouses should establish ways to communicate with others privately throughout the course of the process. This may include setting up a new email account, obtaining a post office box for mail or obtaining a new cellphone and contact number.

Handling the emotional impact

During the divorce process, those worried about how their finances will be impacted by dissolving their marriage may become extremely discouraged. To prevent this from happening, CBS New recommends that divorcing spouses should:

• Prepare themselves mentally for a process that has the potential to be emotional and stressful

• Stay healthy by getting at least eight hours of sleep every night, eating healthfully, exercising regularly and minimizing alcohol consumption

• Try to create balance by participating in enjoyable hobbies and activities, such as getting together with friends or spending time outdoors

• Remember that the pain they are experiencing is temporary and focus on what the future holds

• Seek support from a trusted friend or therapist

Additionally, those divorcing their spouse in Indiana should seek the assistance of a lawyer who can guide them and help them understand the intricacies of the divorce process. If you and your spouse are contemplating divorce, speak with an attorney to find out what you can do to protect your financial interests.

Custodial parents entitled to restitution for unpaid child support

The Indiana Supreme Court recently held that a custodial parent may be entitled to restitution based on a child-support arrearage even if the children are no longer dependents at the time the restitution order is issued.

The facts

The case before the court involved a father of three children who in 2001 was charged with three counts of felony nonsupport of a dependent child and an arrest warrant was issued. At the time the charges were filed, the father was no longer living in Indiana, and the state to which he had moved did not extradite him to face those charges in Indiana until 2010. By 2010 all three of the man's children were emancipated adults.

Upon his extradition to Indiana, the father was convicted on all three counts of felony nonsupport of a dependent child, sentenced to ten years of direct community correction placement and ordered to pay restitution to the children's mother, who had been the custodial parent, in the amount of the child-support arrearage.

Basis of restitution order

The restitution order was based on an Indiana criminal law statute authorizing the court to order, in addition to any sentence imposed upon a person for a misdemeanor or felony, a person to make restitution to the victim of the crimes for which he or she has been convicted. Because the father was convicted of three counts of felony nonsupport of a dependent child, there was no disagreement between the court and the defendant that the statute authorizing the restitution order was applicable to the case. However, the defendant argued that ordering restitution to the custodial parent was improper because she was not a "victim."

The "victim" of unpaid child support

The statute does not define "victim," but courts in Indiana have construed it to mean any person who, as a direct result a criminal act or acts, suffered injury, harm or loss. In this case, the criminal act was the failure to pay child support, and the defendant argued that his children, not the custodial parent, were therefore the victims of his criminal act.

It is true that the right to receive child support belongs solely to the child. This means although child-support payments are made to the custodial parent, it does not belong to him or her and is only being held in trust for the dependent children. Thus, when a child-support arrearage for a dependent child is ordered, the arrearage will be paid to the custodial parent to hold in trust for the child. Thus, if the children in the present case had still been dependent at the time restitution was ordered, the payment would still have been made to the custodial parent but only to hold in trust for the benefit of the dependent children.

But what if restitution is ordered after the children are grown and no longer dependent on child support - should the non-custodial parent be absolved of any obligation to pay? The Indian Supreme Court says no. According to the Court, if a child-support arrearage is ordered after the children are no longer dependents, the payment is still made to the custodial parent because it is presumed that he or she had to make-up the child-support shortfall with his or her own funds for which he or she is entitled to compensation.

Speak to a family law attorney

If you have questions about child support, contact a lawyer in your area who is experienced in family law and child support matters to schedule a consultation to discuss your options.

Co-Parenting After a Divorce

Divorce can bring out a lot of emotions, especially when children are involved. When divorcing spouses in Indiana find themselves navigating the maze of co-parenting, things can get confusing. It may take a while before co-parenting goes smoothly, but the following few tips may help the task of co-parenting a little easier.

Keep Feelings in Check

Trying to keep your feelings at bay when talking to your ex-partner about the kids may be difficult, but it is very important even though divorcing spouses are ending their romantic relationship, they are continuing their parenting relationship and must be able to effectively parent with one another. To effectively co-parent, try to stay relaxed and child-centered when talking with the other parent about issues related to the children.

It is also extremely important to never burden the children with negative feelings about the other parent. Parents should not bad-mouth each other around the children or make the children feel guilty for wanting to spend time with the other parent.

Communication Between Parents

Parents must also navigate their new post-divorce relationship by trying to keep the communication positive. If the end of the relationship was high in conflict, exes should keep their conversations businesslike and child-focused. Problems are going to arise when co-parenting, as children's schedules and needs change. But parents should remember that they will have to see each other at the children's events. Therefore, events where both parents are present will be easier to navigate with some positive and sometimes focused communication.

Make the Transitions Easier

Sometimes the hostility between divorced parents leads to the parents using the children as communication devices. Children should never have to serve as messengers between divorced parents because it can put children in an uncomfortable place. In addition, be aware of the circumstances that surround the transition between households. It is best not to pick up children from the other parent's house when it is time for them to return. Otherwise, it may feel as if the parent is taking the child away from the other parent's home. Let the other parent drop the children off.

Children also need consistency when they already have to be shifted between two different households, so parents should keep the rules consistent in both households. Discipline for breaking the rules should be consistent. Kids should follow similar schedules in both houses for mealtimes and bedtimes, as it will ease their adjustment.

In spite of the provided tips, divorce is almost always going to be difficult. An experienced family law attorney can help people struggling with divorce make a smoother transition into co-parenting, and help them come up with a positive and workable co-parenting arrangement.

Child relocation disputes can be complicated in Indiana

While going through an Indiana divorce can often be a difficult and emotionally draining experience, the period following a divorce or paternity case can frequently prove to be just as challenging if a child is involved - particularly when one of the parents wants to relocate with that child.

In circumstances such as this, it is quite common in Indiana for child custody disputes to arise between the custodial and non-custodial parents. For instance, although the custodial parent wishing to relocate may have a legitimate reason to move - such as a new job - that does little to quell the fears of the non-custodial parent that he or she will not be able to spend as much time with the child due to the move. Fortunately, however, there are several laws in Indiana that address the issue of child relocation directly.

Indiana laws regarding parent and child relocation

While there are no laws in Indiana that can prevent a custodial parent from moving, there are statutes that restrict the ability of this parent to take a child with them without first giving proper notice. Specifically, Indiana law dictates that a custodial parent must first file a "notice of the intent to relocate" with the court at least 90 days before the proposed relocation with a child. This notice must include details regarding the new intended address, a statement outlining the reasons for the relocation, as well as a proposed revised child custody arrangement.

Importantly, following the filing of this notice, the non-custodial parent only has 60 days to file an objection with the court; otherwise, the custodial parent will be permitted to move with the child. If, however, the non-custodial parent files an objection, the court will hold an evidentiary hearing to determine whether or not to grant the relocation.

During the hearing, the burden first falls upon the custodial parent to prove that the proposed relocation is being done in good faith and for a "legitimate reason." If this requirement is met, the burden then shifts to the non-custodial parent to show that the planned move is not in the best interests of the child.

When determining the best interests of the child, the court typically has a great deal of discretion. For example, the court can examine how the move will impact the relationship of the child with the non-custodial parent, although Indiana courts have held in the past that there is no blanket rule that a relocation is always against the best interests of the child merely because it deprives one of the parents of time with the child. Ultimately, however, the question of "best interests" is quite dependent upon the facts of each particular case.

Seek assistance if needed

Given the potential complexity of Indiana child relocation cases, it is often best to seek the counsel of an experienced family law attorney if you are a divorced parent or custodial parent involving a paternity case currently considering a move, or alternatively, you are a divorced or non-custodial parent seeking to stop your child's other parent from moving with the child. A skilled attorney can assist in reviewing the circumstances of your dispute and help determine your rights and options given your situation.

Emancipation in Indiana

For those who pay and receive child support in Indiana, the age of emancipation was changed from 21 to 19 years of age - which means that those who are paying child support are not required to pay after the child's 19th birthday.

Supporters of this law said it was based fairness. Parents who are still married are not obligated to support their children financially until they turn 21, making it legally unfair for divorced parents to be required to pay support for their adult children.

Exceptions to the new emancipation rules

There are some exceptions to the emancipation rules that allow a parent to cease child support even before the child turns 19. If a child goes into active duty in the military, gets married, is not being cared for by either parent, or is not enrolled in a secondary school or college, then the parent paying child support may petition the court to be relieved of that obligation.

Even if a child is emancipated, it is noteworthy that there may still be financial obligations based on an order for college contributions and related expenses.

What you should know about child support in Indiana

Child support in Indiana is handled by the Indiana Supreme Court and is based on its Child Support Rules and Guidelines. Child support is determined by how much financial support a child would have been entitled to receive if his or her parents had stayed together. In order to determine this, the court looks at both parents' gross income, which can include salaries, overtime pay, pensions, alimony, unemployment or workers compensation benefits or commissions received from a job.

Once the court decides how much child support a parent should pay, that parent is obligated to pay that amount until the child is emancipated. If the parent does not pay, there are a number of ways that the child support order can be enforced, including through income tax refund interceptions, wage garnishments and motor vehicle liens. In extreme cases, the parent who does not pay his or her child support obligations may be imprisoned.

Get legal help

If you need help with a child support matter, or any other issue that comes up during the course of your divorce, contact a qualified family law attorney who can advise you of your rights and help you navigate your way through the court system. These issues can be complicated and stressful, so it is best to have an experienced legal advocate by your side to help you get through them.

Factors to consider before relocating your children following a divorce

More than anything else, the divorce process presents an opportunity for individuals to make a fresh start. In some cases, this can mean moving to a new city or even a new state. When children are involved, the decision to relocate can be a difficult one. Before making the decision to move to a new location, newly divorced parents should consider a number of factors.

First, one of the most important factors for a newly divorced parent to consider is whether your ex-spouse will agree to the relocation. If they do not, then the process may take longer and be more expensive than originally anticipated. In some cases, it may even be necessary to get permission from a court to move out of state. Courts are likely to consider a number of factors in making their decision, but the most important point is whether the move would be in the best interests of the children involved.

Second, it is essential for divorced parents to reflect realistically on whether a proposed move is, in fact, best for their children. More than anything else, a parent must realize that while a move from an ex-spouse may be appealing for them, it can be devastating for children to be separated from one of their parents. Depending on their age, it is a good idea to solicit feedback from your children regarding the decision to move.

Third, before making the decision to move, it is important to have a plan for day-to-day matters. For example, where will your children attend school? If you are unable to watch them, do you have friends or family available in the area who can? Will you have the same kinds of career opportunities available to you in your new home?

Finally, although it may be difficult, it is essential to speak to your ex-spouse regarding your decision to move. Communicating can allow both parents to express their concerns and work together to develop a plan for parenting and visitation. In many cases, communicating openly can help reduce conflict. The court will also likely consider whether parenting time has been denied or limited in the past by the relocating parent. If there has been a problem with a parent being able to exercise his or her parenting time, it may affect whether the court allows the relocation.

If you are considering divorcing your spouse, it is natural to have questions about child custody, child support, visitation and other matters. To learn more, schedule a consultation with an experienced divorce attorney. A divorce attorney can explain your rights, provide you with an overview of the divorce process and help you decide on what steps to take next. Speak to an attorney today.

Should You Stay Together for the Kids?

People often hear about couples waiting to divorce until after their children are out of the home. Some advocates say that couples who stay in unhappy marriage are actually doing more damage to their children. Therefore, children not only need to be loved, but they need to be brought up in a home full of love as well.

Showing a Positive Example for Children

Parents are supposed to be role models for their children. If parents are fighting and not showing love for each other, they may not be setting the best examples for their children. For example, if one spouse is abusive or has substance abuse issues that affect the children, it may even be better for the children if the couple divorces.

Ending a marriage is difficult, and it takes bravery to know and understand that the relationship is over. Having the ability to take this step may show children what values are important in an adult's life, such as love and happiness.

A 2007 study shows that many people agree. About 58 percent of survey respondents said that it is better for the children if parents get divorced than stay in an unhappy marriage. Women agreed with this sentiment more than men.

Co-Parenting Brings New Challenges

Talking to the children about the divorce is a difficult step, no matter the age of the children. Spouses should always try to talk to their children together about the divorce and help them understand that both parents are still continuing their parenting relationship.

Reasons for the divorce may be complicated, but try to keep it simple for the children. Do not blame the other parent or talk negatively about the other parent in front of the children. Finally, always make sure children understand that the divorce is not their fault.

Divorce is hard. A family law attorney is a great resource for individuals going through a divorce. A family law attorney can help divorcing parents an advocate for appropriate co-parenting schedules and settle many other related family law issues.