Dedicated Family Law Attorneys
Indiana Spousal Maintenance Lawyer
What is Spousal Maintenance?
Sometimes, even after the division of property in a divorce, one party is not employable at a sufficient level and, therefore, is unable to be self-supporting. In such cases, the court may order the other spouse to pay spousal maintenance. A spouse seeking a maintenance order under Indiana divorce laws must provide specific evidence to support such an award and, even then, those awards are generally not indefinite. If you think you need such an order in your divorce, an Indiana spousal maintenance lawyer from Keffer Hirschauer LLP can help.
We can review the details to see if you may be eligible for spousal maintenance. Contact us online or call us at (317) 857-0160 today.
How an Indiana Spousal Maintenance Lawyer Can Help You
Indiana divorce laws allow a court to grant a request for spousal maintenance to a divorcing spouse who is unable to meet basic financial obligations due to under- or unemployment or who is unable to become employed at a level to be financially self-sufficient. Because the Indiana spousal maintenance statute allows maintenance in only limited circumstances and, in most cases, for a limited time, you need an attorney who will work for a maintenance award that can help you gain financial independence as quickly as possible. An Indiana spousal maintenance lawyer from Keffer Hirschauer LLP can help you do just that.
When you’re fighting for spousal maintenance in Indiana, you need a divorce lawyer who is skilled in litigation and thoroughly knowledgeable about Indiana divorce law. Your Indiana spousal maintenance lawyer is at Keffer Hirschauer LLP. We combine an experienced, strategic approach and litigation skills with our in-depth understanding of Indiana divorce laws to champion your right to be self-sustaining during and after your divorce.
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An Indiana spousal maintenance lawyer from our firm will help you understand what spousal maintenance in Indiana means, the factors the court considers before awarding spousal maintenance, circumstances under which an Indiana spousal maintenance award can be modified, and whether a previous spousal maintenance agreement is enforceable. We also understand the vulnerability that financial instability can create and will work with you compassionately, in a manner preserving and promoting your independence and dignity.
Spousal Maintenance or Alimony in Indiana?
Historically, people have thought of alimony as financial support paid after a divorce by a financially-stable spouse to the other spouse. Sometimes, the amount of alimony was based on factors such as the length of the marriage, the ages of the parties, and the education levels of the parties. When a couple with a lengthy marriage divorced, the court could potentially order the financially sound spouse to pay alimony for many years.
Instead of alimony in Indiana, the Indiana spousal maintenance statute provides for spousal support or maintenance, but only in limited circumstances. The court may order spousal maintenance only if the spouse is incapacitated physically or mentally, provides care for a dependent child who is physically or mentally incapacitated, or requires training or education to obtain appropriate employment.
What is Spousal Maintenance in Indiana?
Indiana divorce laws, specifically the provisions of Indiana Code chapter 31-15-7, define the circumstances under which a court may grant a request for spousal maintenance in a divorce. A spousal maintenance order requires one spouse to pay support to the other after the divorce. Post-divorce maintenance may be limited in duration depending on the circumstances on which the award is based. Under Indiana Code § 31-15-7-2, the court may make such an award when a party establishes facts to show any one of the following circumstances:
- Spousal incapacity: The spouse seeking spousal maintenance is physically or mentally incapacitated to an extent that materially affects his or her ability to provide self-support
- Caregiver maintenance: The spouse seeking spousal maintenance has insufficient property or resources to provide for his or her needs and has custody of a child whose physical or mental incapacity prevents the spouse from being employed
- Rehabilitative maintenance: The spouse seeking spousal maintenance needs financial assistance to obtain training or education necessary to become employable in a position that would allow for self-support
Maintenance based on the incapacity of the party seeking support or a child of the party seeking support may be limited in duration to the period of incapacity. In determining whether to award spousal incapacity or caregiver maintenance, the court considers factors such as the financial and other circumstances of each party, the nature and anticipated duration of the incapacity, and the nature of care required for the incapacitated person. The court may order spousal incapacity or caregiver maintenance for the duration of the incapacity.
The third type of maintenance allowed by Indiana divorce laws is commonly called rehabilitative maintenance. This form of maintenance may be ordered when one spouse has sacrificed obtaining an education or pursuing a career in order to maintain the family home or raise the parties’ children. After a period of time outside the workforce, that spouse may find obtaining suitable employment difficult. Indiana spousal maintenance statute authorizes the court to grant maintenance to help that spouse obtain education or training to become employable in a self-supporting job.
When considering a request for rehabilitative maintenance, the court considers factors such as these:
- The education level of each spouse
- Whether homemaking or childcare duties interrupted education or training for the spouse seeking spousal maintenance
- The earning capacity, educational background, training history, and work history of each spouse, including the length of absence from education or training
- The time and expense required for the party seeking spousal support to become eligible for suitable employment
How Long Does Spousal Maintenance Last in Indiana?
Spousal maintenance in Indiana that is based on a spouse’s or a dependent child’s incapacity lasts as long as the period of incapacity, but rehabilitative maintenance is more limited. The court may order rehabilitative maintenance for up to three years, although it may determine that less time is required for the requesting spouse to obtain the training or education needed to obtain self-supporting employment.
Regardless of the type of maintenance involved, the court has discretion in whether to grant a party’s request for spousal maintenance in Indiana. For this reason, working with an experienced Indiana spousal maintenance lawyer is critical.
When Can You Get Spousal Maintenance in Indiana?
The spousal maintenance contemplated in Indiana Code chapter 31-15-7 is included in the divorce decree and paid after the divorce is final. The length and amount of maintenance are specified in the decree.
A court can also order a form of maintenance to be paid during the divorce. This type of maintenance is intended to allow the financially insecure spouse to provide for basic needs and, in some cases, maintain marital assets, such as providing for the payment of utilities and mortgage or rent payments for the marital home.
Spousal Maintenance Agreements
Not all spousal maintenance requests are disputed. Rather, parties to a divorce sometimes agree to a maintenance order. The parties’ agreement may be in a prenuptial agreement or a postnuptial agreement, a contract that the parties executed in exchange for entering into the marriage or continuing the marriage. If one party disputes the terms of the prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, the court would first have to determine whether the agreement should be enforced, which would require consideration and application of principles of contract law.
Alternatively, the parties may agree during the divorce to part or all of the issues to be settled in the dissolution decree — the court order that terminates the marriage and settles all matters between the parties. The parties can record their agreement on spousal maintenance in a settlement agreement that may or may not include other agreed terms for their divorce. If the court approves their agreement, then the court will issue a maintenance order in the decree according to the agreement terms.
How to Modify Maintenance in Indiana
Indiana Code § 31-15-7-3 allows the court to modify a spousal maintenance order if the requesting party can show a substantial and continuing change in circumstances that make the existing maintenance order unreasonable. Identifying what may constitute a substantial and continuing change in circumstances can be difficult to determine. For example, the Indiana Supreme Court held in Gertiser v. Gertiser (Stokes) that 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 believe your circumstances have undergone a substantial and continuing change warranting modification of your spousal maintenance award, you need an Indiana spousal maintenance lawyer from Keffer Hirschauer LLP. We are seasoned litigators who thoroughly understand the nuances of spousal maintenance in Indiana. We can help you understand how to modify maintenance in Indiana, and can also assist you in filing the necessary documents and moving your request through the legal process.
Attorney’s Fees for Spousal Maintenance in Indiana
Indiana follows the American rule in civil litigation, including an Indiana divorce. Under this rule, each party pays his or her own attorney’s fees in the case. However, there are some instances in which a divorce court may order one party to pay part or all of the attorney’s fees of the other party. For example, if one party makes significantly more income than the other, who is not in a position to earn more (such as a stay-at-home parent without work training or history), the court may order the higher-income earner to pay part or all of the other person’s attorney’s fees.
Also, the court might order a party who has acted in bad faith in the divorce case to pay part or all of the attorney’s fees of the other party. Examples of bad faith conduct could include lying to the court, hiding assets, or failing to provide documents or other information requested in discovery.
If you would like to ask the court to order some form of spousal maintenance in Indiana, it is likely that you are experiencing temporary or even long-term financial instability. An Indiana spousal maintenance lawyer can help you determine your potential for an attorney’s fee award and fight for that much-needed assistance.
Where to Find Your Indiana Spousal Maintenance Lawyer
If you need help with a spousal maintenance matter in Marion County, Hamilton County, or elsewhere around the State of Indiana, call Keffer Hirschauer LLP. We understand the difficulties financial instability can cause, especially during a divorce. Our attorneys balance a compassionate approach with tenacious and experienced litigation strategies to make sure you have the means to provide for yourself and your children.