Indiana Child Support – What You Should Know

Child support in Indiana is a little understood concept.  Specifically, how it is calculated, what you can expect to pay, and how the obligations are collected if someone fails to pay child support that has been ordered by a court.  All of this is a mystery to most people until someone is a party to a divorce or child support proceeding, at which point the system often becomes even more daunting and confusing.  However, the way child support obligations are calculated in Indiana is reasonably predictable.  Like many states, Indiana uses a standard formula for calculating what a parent owes in child support (see calculator here).  It is common for parents to have been a party to a divorce or child support proceeding in the past, and have no idea how the court arrived at the amount of child support owed.  The assistance of a seasoned Indiana family law attorney is instrumental in helping you understand the child support process.

How Is Child Support Determined?

Indiana determines child support based on a set of guidelines that were passed into law in the late 1980s.  Under Indiana law, every child has the right to be supported by both parents.    The Indiana Child Support Guidelines are based off a belief that a child should receive the same proportion of parental income that he or she would have received if the parents lived together or stayed together, whichever the case may be.  The guidelines, therefore, take into account both the parents’ financial resources and needs, the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved or had the parents not lived separately, the physical or mental condition of the child, and the child’s educational needs. Child support typically is intended to cover both the child’s basic living expenses as well as health insurance and other basic necessities of raising a child.

Are My Child Support Obligations Set in Stone Once They Are Determined by the Court?  Can They Ever Be Modified?

Imagine the economy turns south and you lose your job, which pays $60,000 annually, through no fault of your own.  Or say your parents become sick and you need to take months of unpaid leave to care for them.  In short, you may need some temporary relief from your financial obligations, including child support obligations that were entered as a condition of your divorce years earlier.  The good news for you is that child support obligations can be modified in Indiana. However, doing so can be difficult and requires court approval even if the child’s other parent agrees to the requested changes.  An experienced Indiana family attorney can assist you in obtaining a modification of your child support obligations if unforeseen circumstances or financial hardship arise.

Indiana law allows for a party to a child support order to petition to modify the amount of child support in one of two circumstances:

(1) there has been a substantial and continuing change in your circumstances which has arisen since the original child support order was entered; or

(2) the previous child support order is at least 12 months old, and the amount of support that would be calculated under Indiana’s guidelines in your changed circumstances differs from the current order by at least 20%.

Therefore, in the event you are without any income because you lost a job through no fault of your own or because you stopped working to take care of sick or aging parent, then it would be possible for you to seek a modification of a child support order which previously obligated you to pay a certain amount.  In addition, a parent who is required to pay child support can also obtain relief from a previous child support order if the other parent agrees to the requested modification.

However, even if the other parent agrees to the modification that someone seeks to an Indiana child support order, a court must still approve the arrangement and enter a formal order which adopts the modification.  Therefore, if you are a party to a previous child support order in Indiana and would like to seek a modification of a child support order, you should seek the assistance of an experienced family law attorney regardless of whether the other parent agrees or not.

What If I Am Behind on Child Support Payments?  What Can My Ex-Spouse or the Other Parent of My Child Do? 

If you are behind on child support obligations, the consequences can be severe under Indiana law.  A child support obligation is a legally binding obligation that is not voluntary simply because someone does not have the funds to make a payment in a specific month.  When a parent fails to pay child support that has been ordered by an Indiana court, the payments are considered delinquent, and action can be taken against the parent that owes the child support. The local child support prosecutor or the child’s other parent can pursue the delinquent parent to enforce the order in several ways, including garnishing a paycheck, seizing tax refunds, reporting the delinquency to a credit bureau, suspending a driver’s license, and putting a lien on your car or vehicle.

No matter the reason, if you are behind on child support obligations in Indiana, you should enlist the services of an experienced Indiana family law attorney as soon as possible to seek a modification of the child support order.

Contact Experienced Indiana Family Lawyer David Frangos if You Are in Need of Legal Advice Concerning Child Support Obligations In Indiana

David Frangos of Frangos Legal is an an experienced Indiana family lawyer who has experience representing those who are subject to child support obligations who need modifications of previously entered child support orders because a client may be experiencing financial hardship or some circumstance that is making it difficult for the client to continue to pay the court-ordered child support.

David also has experience representing parents who need assistance in enforcing Indiana child support orders that are not being paid by a parent who is delinquent on his or her child support obligations.  If you need an experienced Indiana divorce and family attorney, then contact David Frangos of Frangos Legal today for a Free Consultation and Case Review by emailing contact@frangos-legal.com, by telephone at (317) 643-1345, or by booking online.

Indiana Law and the Distribution of Marital Property During a Divorce

Many states have laws relating to property ownership and division among married couples who divorce, which provide for the division of only what is known as “community property.” Community property states follow the legal rule that all assets acquired or debts incurred during the marriage are considered “community property” which is then divided between the spouses at the time of divorce. This means, if one or both spouses came into the marriage with significant assets or property or acquire property or assets by inheritance or other limited circumstances during the marriage itself, then that property is considered the separate individual property of that spouse and is not subject to division at the time of divorce. However, it is a common misnomer that every state is a “community property” state. Only nine states (Louisiana, Arizona, California, Texas, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin) are true “community property” states.

Nevertheless, the myth that every state is a community property state leads many Indiana residents to believe that Indiana follows the community property approach. Although Indiana law does not support this rule, the belief persists among many Indiana residents that only property acquired after marriage will be divided upon divorce. Indiana residents are surprised to learn during the divorce process that all property either spouse owns, both individual, as well as assets and property acquired before the couple married, is subject to a 50-50 division during the dissolution of marriage proceedings in Indiana.

What is Community Property?

In a state that follows community property rules, a home bought by a couple during their marriage would be community property as would be any cars acquired during their marriage. This would be true regardless of whose income was used to purchase the vehicles or the home. Those assets would be subject to division at the time of divorce. However, if the husband entered the marriage driving a classic car that has appreciated significantly in value or the wife’s mother died and left her a sizeable inheritance two years into the marriage, both of those assets typically would be considered individual property and would not be subject to division during divorce proceedings in a community property state.

Indiana Law Regarding Property Distribution in the Event of a Divorce

This is not true in Indiana, however. Indiana is NOT among the states that utilize the concept of community property for assets and debts acquired or incurred by a couple during their marriage. Under Indiana law, there is a rebuttable presumption that a 50-50 split of the couple’s property upon divorce is a fair and reasonable division upon dissolution of their marriage. This means a 50-50 split of all the assets and property owned by the couple, both jointly and as individuals, regardless of whether the property or asset was acquired before or during the marriage. This is a fancy way of saying that the couple owns everything in common, regardless of when the asset or property was acquired and who it nominally belongs to. There is no distinction between what was owned or obtained by a husband or wife before the marriage and what was acquired by the couple during their marriage under Indiana law. Therefore, in the example above, the wife’s inheritance or the husband’s classic car would be factored into the 50-50 split of assets.

This does not, however, necessarily mean each item will always be split down the middle. After all, if the divorcing couple owns a single vehicle jointly, then the court cannot physically split the car in two and give half to one spouse and half to the other spouse. The same is true if the couple jointly owns a home; one spouse will generally continue to live in the marital home while the other spouse moves out and arranges to live elsewhere. Therefore, a court presiding over that couple’s divorce likely will not order each asset or item owned by the couple either jointly or individually to be sold at auction, and the proceeds divided equally among the soon to be ex-spouses. Instead, the court will award possession of the house to one of the spouses but, in recognition of the fact that both spouses have an equal interest in the home or car, will then award the majority of the couple’s cash or retirement savings to the other split in order to obtain the 50-50 split reflected in Indiana law.

Are There Exceptions to This 50-50 Split in Indiana? Is it Common That Courts Deviate from the 50-50 Split?

Every marriage is indeed unique, as is the financial situation of every divorcing couple. Some couples may be heavily indebted despite having multiple sources of income during their marriage, whereas other couples who were able to make it on a single income may have done an excellent job of financial planning and may have no debts and significant assets upon dissolution of their marriage. Or a divorcing couple may feature one party that had significant pre-divorce assets whereas the other partner had little to no assets when they first married.

Each of these circumstances is unique. However, to family court judges who may have spent a career practicing family law and years on the bench, the occurrence of the type of unique situation which requires the judge to deviate from Indiana’s standard 50-50 rule may be rarer than divorcing couples believe. The judge thus may not find the circumstances to be unique even if the parties think they are. This is one reason it is so important to have an experienced Indiana family lawyer representing you in connection with your divorce, as an experienced attorney will be able to demonstrate to the judge why your particular situation requires diverging from the typical 50-50 split.

Also, the parties can always avoid the 50-50 rule through a written settlement agreement in which the parties choose how they wish to divide property amongst themselves in an Indiana divorce. Courts encourage parties to settle disputes amicably, and a divorcing couple that decides to deviate from the typical 50-50 rule in a written settlement agreement may have a good reason for doing so. They can memorialize whatever other arrangements they have come to in a written settlement agreement and not be subject to the whims of a judge that knows next to nothing about the couple and their particular situation.

Contact Experienced Indiana Family Law Attorney David Frangos if You Are Planning on Initiating a Divorce Proceeding and Have Questions Regarding How Property will be Divided

The concept of community property among married couples in Indiana is only a myth. Indiana law is relatively strict in providing for a 50-50 split of all marital assets and liabilities when a couple divorces in the Hoosier state. It is not unusual for those involved in a divorce to be lost or misinformed, particularly as it relates to the financial aspects of divorce.  However, these issues in a divorce are arguably the most overlooked and essential of all. It is critical to understand your particular situation and what you can expect upon dissolution of the marriage to enable you to plan for your new life after your divorce properly has been finalized.

Contact experienced Indiana family attorney David Frangos of Frangos Legal if you are in a situation where divorce may be on the horizon. Indiana’s rules regarding how the ownership of property is designated in the event of a divorce are very different than some other states and how the process of that division takes place can also be entirely different. David is not only familiar with the law on the issue of property ownership and division in the event of a divorce in Indiana, but advocates for his clients, so they emerge from divorce in the best situation possible. If you need an experienced Indiana divorce and family attorney, then contact David Frangos of Frangos Legal today for a Free Consultation and Case Review by emailing contact@frangos-legal.com, by telephone at (317) 643-1345, or by booking online.

No Fault Divorce in Indiana: How Does It Work and Do I Need a Lawyer to Represent Me?

Unlike fifty years ago, divorce is much more common today than it has ever been.  From both a cultural and social point of view, divorce is not only easier to obtain but is viewed with less stigma than it used to be in the days when it was rare to meet someone who had been divorced and this was something that a person would be ashamed of or even try to hide.  The law has changed to reflect this new reality in order to make divorce easier from both a procedural, financial and emotional perspective for a couple that no longer wants to stay married. This is particularly true in Indiana, which has a higher divorce rate according to U.S. Census Bureau data at 12.5% as compared with a national rate across the United States of 10.9%.  This means that 12.5% of adults aged 15 or older across the Hoosier State are divorced as compared with 10.9% of adults across the United States as a whole.  

There is now no-fault divorce as the rule in the majority of states in the United States, including in Indiana, instead of at-fault divorces where parties are required to prove that good cause exists for the divorce.  This old system required proving, for instance, that one spouse was or had been unfaithful to the other or had secretly drained joint bank accounts to finance a gambling addiction or some other similar sordid tale. Divorce used to be an expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally draining affair for couples that simply no longer wanted to be married to one another without having to explain why their relationship no longer worked in intimate detail to a strange judge who would then divide up the couple’s assets in an often arbitrary and punitive manner.  However, even though the process is now much less charged and adversarial than it used to be, it is nevertheless still important to have an experienced Indiana family law attorney in your corner to assist you through the divorce process in order to make sure that your interests are adequately protected. Given that divorce is a time when ownership of many joint assets that may have been accumulated over decades through the joint efforts of both spouses are divided up and responsibility for joint obligations like mortgages or student loans taken out in connection with paying a child’s college tuition are assigned, having an experienced family law attorney on your side will not only assist in making sure the process goes as smoothly as possible but will also ensure that you emerge from a tumultuous time in as good a position as can be expected.   David Frangos of Frangos Legal is an experienced Indiana family law attorney who has worked with clients in both the most difficult of divorces as well as more amicable proceedings to ensure their interests are protected every step along the way.  

What Are the Steps to a No-Fault Divorce in Indiana?

Obtaining a no-fault divorce in Indiana does not require proving that either spouse did something wrong, it instead merely requires that one of the spouses petition the court to advise the court that there has been an “irretrievable breakdown” of a marriage.  Once one spouse has filed a petition for a divorce, the court will hold a preliminary hearing on the petition, at which time the judge presiding over the divorce proceeding can and will issue temporary orders on issues like the disposition of property, visitation, child custody, and other related issues in order to get the ball rolling on the process of dissolving the couple’s marriage.  The parties must wait a minimum period of 60 days before a no-fault divorce becomes final. It can often take longer than 60 days to finalize even a no-fault divorce if there are issues remaining which need to be worked out by the parties (or their attorneys) on their own or that instead require judicial intervention in order to resolve. However, the parties are free to resolve all of the issues through a written agreement, which the court will then review and approve and finalize to end the divorce proceeding if the agreement adequately addresses all outstanding issues.

The court typically will divide a couple’s assets and debts on a 50-50 basis, but can divert from this general rule of thumb is there is good reason to do so, such as if one spouse incurred the debts on his or her own and did not have a good reason for doing so (such as a gambling debt or the like).  The parties to a no-fault divorce are permitted to come up with their own solutions to any issue, in particular, child custody, without court intervention, but the court will become involved if and when necessary. For example, if the soon to be ex-spouses cannot agree on a child custody and parenting plan, then the court will formulate a plan based on the best interests of the particular child.  In doing so, the court will look at factors such as the child’s wishes (if he or she is at least 14), the parents’ wishes, the age and sex of the child, etc.

Do I Still Need an Attorney To Represent Me in a No-Fault Divorce in Indiana?

The short answer is yes.  Simply because marriage is ending in a no-fault divorce proceeding does not mean that there are not still issues being contested or that will be contested between the spouses in the course of the divorce proceeding.  This is particularly true if there are significant assets owned by the couple which needs to be divided if only one spouse works, or there are children for whom custody and visitation arrangements will need to be finalized.  Having an experienced attorney on your side adds value to a divorce proceeding by ensuring that his or her client’s interests are protected in an arena in which a person can easily end up being taken advantage of or steamrolled by a more assertive spouse, particularly if that spouse has an aggressive attorney.

Divorces are incredibly emotionally charged proceedings in even the most ideal of circumstances and can have devastating financial consequences for the parties if not handled properly.  According to an April 2016 article from the Atlantic, women, in particular, see their income drop by 20% in the years after a divorce and the poverty rate for women in particular post-divorce tends to spike.  Therefore, even the most amicable break-up of a relationship is likely to become fraught with tension or break out in a fight when the issue of money, division of property and child custody and visitation arrangements come up.  In addition, issues also can arise during the pendency of the divorce proceeding itself even if the couple is cheerfully parting ways, such as if one spouse attempts to make unauthorized changes in the ownership of joint assets or use joint funds or savings in a way the other partner does not approve of.   In addition, the use of an attorney can also help to smooth the way in the negotiation and finalization of a written agreement that will end the proceedings if the parties agree to the material terms and wish to end their marriage through a written agreement rather than by orders entered by an unfamiliar judge.  

Contact Experienced Indiana Divorce and Family Attorney David Frangos Today if You Are In A Marriage that is Ending And You Need to Protect Your Interests

If you are having doubts about whether your marriage is going to last and are worried about the consequences of divorce and what could potentially be the outcome of divorce proceedings that you or your spouse have either talked about or are thinking about initiating, then you need to talk an experienced Indiana family lawyer as soon as possible. David Frangos of Frangos Legal is experienced in resolving some of the most challenging difficulties associated with divorce in Indiana, even if you are involved in a no-fault divorce, including child custody, the splitting of joint assets and other matters that routinely come up between even couples who are splitting up using the less adversarial process associated with a no-fault divorce.  A divorce is when someone is typically at his or her worst and David does his best as an experienced Indiana family lawyer to ensure that he is compassionate and empathetic throughout the process while also taking his professional and ethical responsibilities to zealously advocate for his clients seriously. If you are in need of an experienced Indiana divorce and family attorney, then contact David Frangos of Frangos Legal today for a Free Consultation and Case Review by emailing contact@frangos-legal.com, by telephone at (317) 643-1345, or by booking online.

Adult Adoption

You can adopt an adult.  Why would you want to do that?

Answer; The reasons range from sentimental to practical.

The adoption of a minor child requires the consent of the child’s biological parent(s).  A biological parent may be unwilling to consent to such adoption for a myriad of reasons.  But, when the child turns 18 years old, they may petition the court to be adopted by an adult.  An example of a sentimental reason may be that the child has a close relationship with a stepparent or other adult in their life and desires to solidify that bond through an adoption.

Other situations can be for more practical reasons such as an adult child not being eligible for specific education or health benefits. An excellent example of this is a step-parents VA Disability Benefits, as they apply to Indiana’s college tuition deferment.  A Veteran’s stepchild is not eligible for such a benefit unless the adult child is adopted by the Veteran.  An adoption could amount to saving tens of thousands of dollars in college tuition.

There are many reasons for an adult to adopt another adult and fortunately, in Indiana, it is pretty straightforward.  Unlike other states, there’s no notice or consent requirement for biological parents.  Courts have the authority to grant the adoption petition “with the consent of the individual acknowledged in open court,” (I.C. 31-19-2-1).

Here is the current law;

IC 31-19-2-1 Adoption of adult; petition; venue; consent; investigation

Sec. 1.

(a) An individual who is at least eighteen (18) years of age may be adopted by a resident of Indiana:

(1) upon proper petition to the court having jurisdiction in probate matters in the county of residence of the individual or the petitioner for adoption; and

(2) with the consent of the individual acknowledged in open court.

(b) If the court in which a petition for adoption is filed under this section considers it necessary, the court may order:

(1) the type of investigation that is conducted in an adoption of a child who is less than eighteen (18) years of age; or

(2) any other inquiry that the court considers advisable; before granting the petition for adoption.

As added by P.L.1-1997, SEC.11.

Though the process is straightforward, you should consider the services of an attorney to assist you in navigating the legal system.  If you or somebody you know are considering an adult adoption, or want to learn more about the process, contact an attorney at Frangos Legal, LLC to assist you with the process.