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When determining custody in Indiana, the courts consider what is in the child's best interests before deciding. Split custody allows both parents to have some placement and decision-making rights regarding the child.
Family Law Indiana
Divorce is a significant area of family law in Indiana. There are multiple issues to consider before and during the divorce process. You can find some of the recent changes to divorce law in our article, Indiana Family Law Changes 2023
The first consideration when divorce is being considered is whether you can file for divorce in Indiana.
Requirements To File For Divorce In Indiana.
To file for divorce in Indiana, you need to live in Indiana for at least six months before filing your paperwork. You must also have lived in the county where you are filling in for at least three months. Indiana is also a no-fault state with some limited exceptions.
No fault divorces
This requires a showing or attestation that the marriage is irretrievably broken. You do not have to allege or prove that your spouse was at fault for doing something wrong during the marriage. The no-fault rule does not apply to three grounds for divorce in Indiana.
Three Grounds For Divorce In Indiana
- Felony conviction
- Impotence during the marriage
- Incurable insanity for at least two years
Filing For Divorce In Indiana
Once you have established that you can file for divorce in Indiana, it is time to start to put the paperwork together. You will need to determine how you are filing:
- Uncontested divorce without children and with an agreement
- Uncontested divorce with children with an agreement
If you are filing for an uncontested divorce and agree to resolve all the major issues, you can request the court issue a Summary dissolution. The court must wait 60 days after filing this petition but then may grant the divorce.
- Contested divorce without children and without agreement
- Contested divorce with children and without agreement
A contested divorce without agreement occurs when there are issues that the parties cannot agree on. These often involve issues of property division, child custody, and child support. In this situation, a judge or court commissioner will rule on the issues at hand after reviewing testimony and evidence from the parties. These types of divorces typically take longer and can be much more expensive.
Once the type of divorce that applies to your situation is determined, you will need to file documents with the court as well as serve your spouse. Depending on your situation, some of these documents will likely include the following:
- Verified Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
- Temporary Order
- Child support obligation worksheet.
- Property settlement agreement
- Final order
Serving Your Spouse
Once the appropriate forms are filed with the court, you can serve your spouse by using the following:
- Sheriff's Office
- Private process server
- Certified mail
Divorce With Children
When a divorce with children is filed, there are additional issues for the court to resolve. Indiana follows the rule that it is in the children's best interest to have frequent and meaningful contact with each parent. Unless there are extenuating circumstances such as drug abuse, child abuse, or domestic violence, the parent without primary custody will be awarded reasonable parenting time.
This is the ability of a parent to make decisions for the child. Types of decisions include but are not limited to:
- Extracurricular activities
Legal custody can be split in which both parents have a say in these decisions. Joint custody typically refers to legal custody being divided between the parents. Legal custody can also be granted as sole legal custody to one of the parents. In this situation, the parent with sole legal custody does not have to consult with the other parent before making these types of decisions.
Physical custody refers to where the child is living. The courts try to divide the time as evenly as possible; however, it is only sometimes possible to have a completely 50/50 split in many cases. If this is the case due to the distance, the parents live apart. For example, primary physical custody may be granted to one parent. The court will then assign parenting time to the non-custodial parent.
The court looks at many factors when ruling on physical custody. Some of the factors the courts consider are:
- The wishes of the parents
- The wishes of the child, with more weight given to older children
- The relationship between the child and parent
- The age and sex of the child
- The child's adjustment to school, home, and community
- Mental and physical health of all individuals involved
Suppose custody agreements are an issue. The courts may order mediation to resolve the issues if possible. Courts will often ask for the submission of parenting plans as well so that the court can rule on the matter.
Do I need a child custody attorney in Indiana?
When dealing with issues as important as the custody of your children, it makes sense to have an attorney by your side. Determining custody can be influenced by many factors. An experienced family law attorney can help you bring to the court's attention the things that will make the most significant difference in determining your case.
Child Support In Indiana
Child support in Indiana may be required to be paid until a child is 19 years old or emancipated. Child support is usually calculated using a formula that considers many factors, including:
- Custodial parent's income
- Non-custodial parent's income
- Number of children
- The time the non-custodial parent has with the child
- Health care needs
- Visitation and travel expenses
- Childcare needs
The Indiana department of child services has additional resources that can assist with your child support needs that are found here: DCS: Child Support: Home (in.gov)
Child Support Modification
Once the court sets your child support, you are obligated to pay that amount. You are allowed to request a modification of the amount paid, however, if your income changes by more than twenty percent or if there has been a substantial and continuing change in your circumstances. Examples of a substantial change of circumstance are:
- One parent having additional children they are financially responsible for
- The loss of job
- A change in job that has a significant difference in income
- Health issues
- Changes in custody arrangements
Do You Still Have To Pay Child Support If You Have 50/50 Custody?
Many factors go into child support orders, and the amount of time you have physical custody of the child is only one of those factors. It is possible to have no child support payments with a 50/50 custody arrangement, but that is only sometimes the case. For example, if one spouse has a higher income than the other, they may be required to pay child support even with a 50/50 split.
Dividing Of Property
Indiana is an equitable distribution state. This is important because under this rule unless you have a pre-nuptial agreement in place, most assets, including those acquired before marriage, are subject to division. If the property was acquired prior to or during the marriage by inheritance, gift, or pension proceed and was not co-mingled with marital assets, it may be able to remain separate property not subject to division.
The court attempts to split the property equally between the spouses. It can consider factors such as each party's contribution to acquiring the property, where the children are placed, which may influence who keeps the house and if the property was inherited or co-mingled with marital assets.
Debts are presumed to be both parties' responsibility even though the property is divided equitably.
Retirement savings are considered a part of the marital property and are divided accordingly. However, you may be able to keep your retirement savings by giving up other assets in the property settlement agreement.
If you have questions about the Divorce process and your rights in Indiana, give us a call and speak with one of our experienced family law attorneys.