Divorce & Dissolution of Marriage

Divorce Fundamentals

Indiana is a no-fault state. This means that the reason for the breakdown of the marriage is not relevant to the court.  Instead, the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (the document filed to initiate a divorce case) will generally state that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and it should, therefore, be dissolved.  Once the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage has been filed, there is a 60 day “cooling off period” before the divorce can be finalized. Most counties now require that the parties also attend a parenting class if there are children of the marriage.

I understand that divorce can cause permanent changes in one’s life, and I am dedicated to helping my clients through the challenges of divorce with compassion.

Division of Assets and Liabilities

Indiana follows the “one-pot theory.” This means that any assets and debts brought into the marriage, or acquired during the marriage, are all included in the marital estate.  Assets include but are not limited to real and personal property, bank accounts, investment, and retirement accounts. In Indiana, the presumption is that the marital estate is divided equally (50/50); however, if one party does not believe this a just and reasonable division of the marital estate, then there are factors that can cause the courts to deviate from this presumption.

Complex Marital Estate Valuation & Division

I frequently assist clients with handling sizable assets including businesses, real estate, and personal property. I have worked with leading business valuators and property appraisers to determine the value of all assets within a parties’ marital estate. As an experienced divorce attorney, coupled with these financial experts, I can also often identify assets of which one or both of the parties may not be fully aware. In addition to working closely with financial and real estate experts to value property, I am very accustomed to dealing with adverse expert opinions in the courtroom.

Qualified Domestic Relations Orders

During a divorce, parties will often divide one or both of a spouse’s retirement accounts. Depending on the type of account, these accounts may be divided by a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). A QDRO is a legal document, drafted by one of the parties’ attorneys, which the IRS recognizes as a method of allowing a penalty-free transfer of retirement funds to a non-participant spouse pursuant to a divorce. The QDRO process can be lengthy as it generally requires pre-approval by the plan administrator of the account, approval by the court and then final submission.

Spousal Maintenance

Indiana is not an alimony state. However, there are three circumstances in which a court can require that one spouse pay maintenance to the other. First, if a spouse is the custodian of a child with a physical or mental incapacity that inhibits that spouse’s ability to work. Second, if the spouse is physically or mentally incapacitated such that he/she cannot work. Third, if the spouse needs rehabilitative maintenance due to a lack of education or training. While the court is limited to these three circumstances, this does not mean that parties cannot agree to alimony or to another form of spousal maintenance, which may be financially advantageous to both parties.