Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Love Stinks -- The J. Geils Band had it Right. Divorce and the aftermath........

Are you contemplating or going through a divorce?  Are there children involved?  You will need an attorney with experience, know how and the ability to both fight and achieve consensus.  A family break-up is an awful experience for everyone, and when children are involved, things can become dicey.  You need to separate property settlement issues from issues concerning what is best for the children.  You also need to ensure you have an attorney who is aware of local rules and practices, can maneuver and handle emotional situations in a calm and sympathetic manner while maintaining a firm hand in your favor.

Thus, if you are in Bloomington, Indiana, or the surrounding Southern or Central Indiana area, ensure you obtain the services of an experienced lawyer familiar with the area and the practice eccentricities therein.  This will both save you money (travel expenses cost you in fees), and afford you local credibility in court.

CUSTODY ISSUES -- When kids are involved, the Court will look to the best interests of the kid(s).  This is a very hard concept to understand, as often, Courts are looking at two parents who love their kid(s), who just don't love each other, or worse, can't stand each other by the time they get to court.  Generally, the courts will presume joint custody with primary physical custody with one parent, and the other parent to have, at a minimum, parenting time (formerly known as visitation) pursuant to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines, which may be found at http://www.in.gov/judiciary/rules/parenting/index.html.  The parenting times guidelines are a minimum guide and should be used when parties cannot agree to a different time schedule.

Courts will generally award primary custody to the primary caretaker of the child.  Historically, this was the wife.  As times have changed, this is no longer a given.  Fathers have rights and should not believe they will automatically be forced to concede on primary custody.  Similarly, professional and working mothers also have rights and should not be punished for their role in the market place.  Divorce is a process that affects every aspect of your life. Make sure you have an attorney who asks the right questions, obtains the necessary information, and will take your commitment to your children seriously.  To obtain a modification in custody, you will have to show a substantial change in circumstances.  If you do not achieve primary custody in your initial proceedings, a substantial and continuing change in circumstances is not easy to prove.  Filing for a custody modification based upon not liking the Judge's first ruling will get you nowhere...


In Indiana, the presumption in a property decree/settlement is that each party will obtain a 50/50 split of the marital pot.  The marital pot consists of all property, both real and personal, as well as all financial means and/or debt both parties have at the time of filing for divorce.  While there are certain items, like inheritances, property owned solely by the husband or wife prior to the marriage, and certain gifts which may be arguably removed from the marital pot, generally everything will be split 50/50.  Judges may deviate from this split  based upon parties earning capacity, a party's contribution in the home as opposed to obtaining education in furtherance of his or her career, and various other factors. Parties are free to enter into negotiated settlements wherein they agree to a settlement other than a 50/50 split for various reasons.

In order to make decisions on a property decree/settlement, your attorney should obtain comprehensive and detailed information about your spouses assets and liabilities, together with all property your spouse owns through the discovery process.  This includes all information regarding banking, retirement accounts, IRAs, stock portfolios, real estate investments, and any other discovered assets.  Further, your attorney should request detailed information, from you, regarding personal property items in the household. 

*Nothing written or stated in this blog is meant to be legal advice forming an attorney/client relationship.  The statements are the opinion of the blogger only.

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