Divorce is complicated on a number of levels—decoupling is not only emotional but it also results in a need for numerous specific, practical decisions regarding your finances and children (if any). In Indiana, these decisions are made through the legal process of divorce and formalized in an Indiana divorce decree.
Understanding your divorce decree can be easier with the help of an experienced family law attorney. An attorney can help you craft the right provisions for your unique circumstances or understand the provisions of your existing decree.
For individuals and families in the Indianapolis area, or anywhere in Indiana, an Indianapolis family lawyer can also provide guidance as to whether—and under what circumstances—the provisions of your divorce decree can be modified under divorce laws in Indiana.
Provisions and Modifications of an Indiana Divorce Decree
An Indiana divorce decree covers the essentials of ending a legal marital bond. In all cases, there are provisions relating to liability for debts incurred by the parties while they were married, disposition of assets accrued during the marriage, and provisions settling forth any spousal support to be paid after the divorce.
In addition, if any children are involved, the decree includes provisions concerning custody as it relates to decision-making and parenting time as well as provisions covering child support obligations.
Understanding Your Indiana Divorce Decree: Debts, Assets, and Spousal Support
All divorce decrees include provisions addressing disposition of the net marital estate. Some divorce decrees also have a provision addressing spousal support. As to the marital estate, decrees address both property distribution and allocation of debts.
While not all divorce decrees include spousal support provisions, Indiana courts do have the authority to grant spousal support, called maintenance, to one of the parties to the marriage in certain circumstances, such as in cases involving a spouse’s disability or need for educational rehabilitation to become employable.
Divorce Laws in Indiana: Child Custody and Support
If there are any minor children born or adopted during the marriage, a divorce decree also includes child custody and support provisions. Child custody has two components in Indiana—legal custody and parenting time.
Legal custody concerns which parent has the legal authority to make child-rearing decisions. This can be joint custody (both parents) or sole custody (just one parent). The divorce decree also includes a provision regarding the allocation of parenting time, which may be an attachment to the decree with a very specific schedule detailing days and times for parenting time exchanges as well as holiday and vacation parenting time schedules.
A divorce decree for spouses with children or other dependents also outlines each parent’s child support obligation. These provisions are governed by divorce laws in Indiana under Indiana Code chapter 31-16.
Modifying Your Indiana Divorce Decree
It is important to be sure during the divorce process that you understand and are comfortable with the provisions of your divorce decree because some of these provisions cannot be subsequently modified based simply on a change of mind. This is particularly true as to property disposition or other financial matters unrelated to children.
Certain circumstances must exist for property distribution or spousal support orders to be modified. Provisions regarding property disposition, however, may not be revoked or modified except in cases of fraud. However, an Indiana court has continuing, exclusive jurisdiction to modify a spousal support order throughout the existence of the support obligation upon a showing of substantial and continuing changed circumstances.
Modifications of child custody, parenting time, or child support provisions are governed by Indiana Code § 31-16-8-1, which provides that a child support or maintenance order may be modified or revoked.
Whatever provisions you wish to change, it is wise to consult with an Indianapolis family lawyer who can advise you regarding how divorce laws in Indiana affect your case before you petition the court to modify elements of your divorce decree.
Your Indianapolis Family Lawyer Can Help
Divorce is complicated, but getting the advice you need doesn’t have to be. The attorneys at Carmel-Fishers law firm Camden & Meridew, P.C. have significant experience handling family law cases. Whether you are going through a divorce or already have an Indiana divorce decree and want to modify its provisions, an Indianapolis family lawyer at Camden & Meridew can help. Call us today at 317-770-0000 or complete our online contact form.