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IBA: What Every Woman Should Know to Protect Herself in the Event of Divorce

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By Amy Carson, Laura Gaskill, Robin Kelly and Gloria K. Mitchell, all of Mitchell & Associates

Advising clients contemplating divorce varies with the style of the attorney. Even so, there are fundamental issues every woman considering or beginning the divorce process should know to protect herself financially. 

Divorce Fundamentals. Indiana is a no-fault state, meaning that the reason for the divorce is not relevant to the court. The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage generally states that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and it should be dissolved. After the petition if filed, there is a required 60-day cooling off period before the divorce can be final.

Date of filing. The date a Petition for Dissolution is filed is the date a court looks at to determine what is in the marital estate, both assets and debts. Any assets acquired/earned or debts incurred after the date of filing will generally not go into the marital estate and belong solely to the party who accrued the asset or incurred the debt.

Division of Assets. Indiana follows the “one pot theory,” meaning that any assets or debts brought into the marriage, or acquired during the marriage, are included in the marital estate, unless there is a prenuptial agreement indicating otherwise. The presumption is that the marital estate is divided 50/50; however, either party can attempt to persuade the judge that 50/50 would not be fair.

Spousal Maintenance. Indiana is not an alimony state, which means a court cannot order that alimony be paid unless the parties both agree that alimony should be paid; since the payment of alimony may be financially advantageous to both parties, this kind of agreement is uncommon. Spousal maintenance, however, can be ordered by the court. There are three instances when a court can order that one spouse pay maintenance to the other. These include the following: when a spouse is the custodian of a child with physical/mental incapacity such that it impairs that spouse’s ability to work; or if a spouse is physically/mentally incapacitated such that he/she cannot work; or if a spouse is in need of rehabilitative maintenance because he/she needs training or schooling in order to re-enter the workforce.•

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  1. The child support award is many times what the custodial parent earns, and exceeds the actual costs of providing for the children's needs. My fiance and I have agreed that if we divorce, that the children will be provided for using a shared checking account like this one(http://www.mediate.com/articles/if_they_can_do_parenting_plans.cfm) to avoid the hidden alimony in Indiana's child support guidelines.

  2. Fiat justitia ruat caelum is a Latin legal phrase, meaning "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." The maxim signifies the belief that justice must be realized regardless of consequences.

  3. Indiana up holds this behavior. the state police know they got it made.

  4. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

  5. Agreed on 4th Amendment call - that was just bad policing that resulted in dismissal for repeat offender. What kind of parent names their boy "Kriston"?

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