Does Indiana Have Spousal Support?
When filing for divorce in Indiana many people will ask, does Indiana have spousal support? The answer is yes, Indiana does have spousal support. However, as outlined in Indiana Code 31-15-7, it is referred to as spousal maintenance and is only available in limited circumstances, and in most cases, for a limited time.
If you are fighting to receive Indiana spousal support, legally referred to as spousal maintenance, you will need a divorce attorney who has a thorough understanding of the Indiana divorce laws. Want to speak with a spousal maintenance lawyer today? Call the Law Office of Keffer Hirschauer LLP at 317-648-9560 or schedule a free consultation online. Our team has the experience, depth of knowledge, and litigation skills required to ably advocate for your right to be self-sustaining following your divorce.
Indiana Spousal Maintenance Laws
Following the Dissolution of Marriage and Bankruptcy Act of 1973, Indiana alimony laws were replaced with the institution of spousal support (or maintenance). This change was made to place stricter limitations on the power of Indiana courts to order maintenance without the consent of both parties. Given this fact, the authorization to award spousal support in Indiana today is strikingly limited.
Similar to alimony, an Indiana spousal support order requires one spouse to pay support to the other after the divorce. However, these orders are only awarded in limited circumstances and, depending on the circumstances, are limited in their duration. Per Indiana Code 31-15-7, spousal support can only be awarded by a trial court in one of three scenarios:
- When a spouse is incapacitated;
- When a spouse is a caregiver for an incapacitated child; or
- When a spouse requires support in order to acquire education or training to get a job.
Per Indiana Code 31-15-7-2(1), to receive spousal support using the claim of spousal incapacity, the requesting spouse must provide clear evidence that he/she is either physically or mentally incapacitation, and, therefore, is not able to support themselves. This is often proved by providing evidentiary medical documents or expert testimony. It may also be proved by showing that the person has been declared disabled by a government entity, like the Social Security Administration.
When deciding whether to award spousal support for incapacitation, Indiana courts will consider the nature of the person’s incapacitation and the anticipated duration of their incapacitation. They may also consider the monetary impact of their incapacitation and the amount of care that they will require.
Indiana Code 31-15-7-2(2) states that “if the court finds that: (a) a spouse lacks sufficient property, including marital property apportioned to the spouse, to provide for the spouse’s needs; AND (b) the spouse is the custodian of a child whose physical or mental incapacity requires the custodian to forgo employment; the court may find that maintenance is necessary for the spouse in an amount and for a period of time that the court considers appropriate.”
While this seems rather straightforward, it’s important to note that Indiana spousal maintenance is not available to a spouse who only lacks sufficient property to provide for his/her own needs. Instead, it requires that the spouse must also be the custodian to a child who is mentally or physically incapacitated, and therefore must forgo employment.
To prove that Indiana spousal support is required due to the spouse’s role as a caregiver to an incapacitated child, the spouse requesting support must prove that (a) their child is incapacitated and (b) the child’s incapacitation is so severe that the caregiver must forgo employment. An Indiana spousal maintenance attorney would typically prove this by providing the court with medical documentation, expert testimony and/or official declarations from government entities. When deciding upon the award, Indiana courts will consider the nature of the child’s incapacitation, the anticipated duration of incapacitation, the monetary impact of the child’s incapacitation, and the amount of care that they require both now and in the future.
As Indianapolis divorce lawyers, we understand just how stressful financial instability following a divorce can be, especially for those caring for a child with disability. We strive to work in collaboration with all of our clients, and practice empathy and compassion as we seek to preserve and promote your security and dignity as a caregiver. To speak with an Indiana divorce attorney today, call us at 317-648-9560 or schedule a free consultation online.
Rehabilitative maintenance, which is defined in Indiana Code 31-15-7-2(3), is intended to help the petitioning spouse obtain the education and/or training needed to become employable and self-sustaining. Rehabilitative maintenance can be awarded when the petitioning spouse has proven that instead of obtaining an education and/or pursuing a career, they took on homemaking and/or childcare responsibilities on behalf of both parties. When making a determination on rehabilitative maintenance petitions, Indiana courts may consider factors such as:
- The educational background of both parties
- Their respective earning capacities
- Work history
- Time passed since the petitioner last pursued education or training
Finally, courts will consider the time and cost required for the party seeking support to attain the education or training needed to find suitable employment.
Length of Spousal Support Orders
In general, Indiana courts prefer to put an end date on Indiana spousal support orders. For support orders that are based on a spouse or dependent child’s incapacity, the length of the support order is typically the duration of incapacity. This can be quite lengthy in situations involving permanent disability and/or a young child. However, it should be noted that the order cannot exceed a child’s 18th birthday, as at that point he/she will no longer be considered legally “dependent.”
Rehabilitative maintenance orders are much more limited by design. Per Indiana Code 31-15-7-2(3)(D) rehabilitative maintenance orders cannot exceed three years from the date of the final decree. In addition, courts may determine that less time is needed for the petitioning spouse to obtain the education and/or training required to obtain employment and become self-sustainable.
Modifying Spousal Support Orders
Indiana Code 31-15-7-3 provides Indiana courts with the ability to modify an existing spousal support order. However, the requesting party must show that a substantial and continuing change in circumstances has occurred and has rendered the existing order unreasonable. While that seems rather clear, it can be difficult to determine what constitutes as a “substantial and continuing change.” One example of this is the Indiana Supreme Court ruling in Gertiser v. Gertiser (Stokes), which held the marriage of a disabled former spouse receiving maintenance to a financially stable person does not necessarily constitute a substantial and continuing change in circumstances.
If you have had an Indiana spousal support order placed upon you and would like to make a modification to the order, the Indianapolis family law attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP stand ready to assist you. Our seasoned litigators thoroughly understand the nuances of Indiana spousal support and can help you build a sound argument demonstrating that a substantial and continuing change has occurred in your life and that the current order is therefore unreasonable. They’ll also assist you with filing the documentation necessary to request a modification and will ensure that your request moves through the legal process in a timely manner. To speak with an Indiana spousal support attorney today, call us at 317-648-9560 or schedule a free consultation online.
Prenuptial Agreements and Spousal Support Orders
In Indiana, spousal support can be an element agreed upon in an Indiana prenuptial agreement and enforced following the dissolution of a marriage. However, as outlined in Indiana Code 31-11-3-8, if the party against whom enforcement is sought can prove that they did not execute the agreement voluntarily or that the agreement of support was unconscionable when executed, a court may find it not enforceable. Furthermore, if a provision of the premarital agreement either modifies or eliminates spousal support, and that modification or elimination causes one party extreme hardship under circumstances that were reasonably not foreseeable at the time of signing the agreement, the court may require the one party to provide spousal support to the extent necessary to avoid inflicting extreme hardship upon the other party.
Need to Speak with a Spousal Support Attorney Today?
Indiana divorce laws only allow courts to grant a request for spousal support in limited situations, and in most cases, for a very limited time. Given this, a spouse who would like to petition for support will need to work with a very experienced Indiana spousal maintenance attorney; one who guides them through getting a divorce in Indiana and fight tirelessly to help them gain the financial independence needed to confidently begin the next chapter of their life. An Indiana family law attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP can help you do just that.
Here at Keffer Hirschauer LLP, we combine an experienced, strategic approach with superior litigation skills and an in-depth understanding of Indiana divorce laws to champion your right to be self-sustaining during and after your divorce. If you’d like to understand what spousal support in Indiana looks like and whether you meet the factors required to be awarded support, we are here to help you. Call us at 317-648-9560 or schedule a free consultation online.