Every divorce involves a division of assets and debts, and if spouses can’t reach an agreement, the court will decide the division for them. A divorce is a financially straining situation, and spouses often have a personal and financial investment in the assets being divided. This can make negotiations or litigation unexpectedly contentious. If you are beginning the process of divorce, it’s essential to find a property division and divorce attorney in Indianapolis to represent your needs.
The more you understand about property division laws in Indianapolis, the more likely you will be prepared to handle this stage of your divorce and protect your interests throughout it.
Equitable Distribution Laws in Indianapolis
Indiana operates under equitable distribution laws, which means that property is divided equitably between spouses based on what the judge considers fair. Indiana’s laws differ from some equitable distribution states, however, because there is a legal presumption that a fair split is an equal split of assets and debts.
To challenge this presumption, a spouse must show proof of why an equal split is not fair for their unique circumstances. Some reasons why a judge may consider an unequal split include each spouse’s:
- Conduct during the marriage
- Any misconduct related to asset dissipation
- Contributions to buying, acquiring, or maintaining property
- Income, earnings, and earning potential
- Economic circumstances and expected economic circumstances after the divorce
A spouse attempting to overturn an equal division of assets must advocate for why an unequal split of assets is fair, given their economic situation or the actions of their spouse. A cheating spouse is not reason enough for an unequal division of assets, but a spouse who used marital assets in another relationship could be. An experienced divorce attorney is an exceptional asset in gathering evidence and advocating for your interests to a judge.
Determining Marital and Separate Property
Similar to other states, Indiana splits marital assets between spouses, and spouses can retain their own separate property. Unlike other states, Indiana defines marital property differently. Other states assume that assets gained during a marriage are marital assets unless proven otherwise. Under Indiana state law, all assets that a couple has are assumed to be marital property, regardless of when they acquired it. Spouses must prove that their property is separate to keep it from being subject to property division.
To prove that an item is separate property, a spouse must show that it was not connected to the marriage and that the property did not benefit from the marriage. Separate property typically includes:
- Property that a spouse owned prior to a marriage that:
- Was not commingled with their spouse’s property
- Their spouse did not contribute to
- Gifts given to or inheritance received by one spouse, under the spouse’s sole name, with no contribution from their spouse
- Property obtained by either spouse after filing for separation, without any contribution from the spouse or marital assets
Once spouses have proven what their separate assets and debts are, and the court has defined all marital assets and debts, the division of property can begin.
Dividing Property Through a Separation Agreement
When the court divides your property, you and your spouse have little say in the outcome. You can advocate for a certain split and provide evidence of an equal or unequal split, but the final decision is up to the judge. If you and your spouse are able to negotiate and want more control over how your assets and debts are split, you can create a separation agreement through a collaborative divorce or divorce mediation.
An attorney can represent your interests and help you negotiate a fair agreement. The final separation agreement must be approved by the court, but the judge will typically make it a court order unless it is unfair to one spouse.
Q: Does My Wife Get Half of Everything in a Divorce in Indiana?
A: In an Indiana divorce, both spouses have an equal claim to assets, with the legal presumption being that an equal split of assets is fair. However, certain factors in the marriage can impact this division, as Indiana is an equitable distribution state. The judge will review certain aspects surrounding the marriage, and they may alter the equal split presumption if they deem it just. Unlike other states, Indiana property division could include all of a couple’s assets, including assets obtained prior to their marriage.
Q: How Is Debt Divided in a Divorce in Indiana?
A: Debts, like assets, are divided according to equitable distribution in Indiana, with the legal presumption that an equal split is most fair. If the division of property is up to a judge, they will divide debts equally, unless the judge is shown proof that an equal split would be unfair. For example, if one spouse wasted marital assets, they may be assigned more of the marital debt. Spouses can also determine their own split of debts under a separation agreement.
Q: How Is the House Split in a Divorce?
A: A house is likely to be awarded to one spouse if they are the primary custodian of a couple’s children. Otherwise, the judge may split it how they see fit based on what is financially possible. Because a home’s value typically outweighs the rest of a couple’s assets, the judge may require the home to be sold and the proceeds to be shared. If a couple wants more control over what happens to their home during and after their divorce, they should attempt to reach an agreement out of court.
Q: How Is Spousal Support Calculated in Indiana?
A: Unlike other states, Indiana has no formula for calculating spousal support, which is also called spousal maintenance. Instead, it is up to the judge’s discretion to determine if spousal maintenance is appropriate and, if so, the amount and duration of that maintenance. No spouse is entitled to maintenance payments. Spousal maintenance is assigned based on the needs of a spouse, and it is typically temporary unless a spouse or child requires maintenance for physical or mental disabilities.
Safeguarding Your Financial Interests in an Indianapolis Divorce
Even in a divorce where you and your spouse are attempting to find an amicable solution, it can be stressful and contentious to divide property. When you need legal support in advocating for your interests and financial stability, work with qualified Stange Law Firm divorce attorneys.