Family Law

Family Law

Families sometimes need help – especially when their decisions or actions fall into the court system.  Family law can involve a lot of different issues such as adoption, divorce, child support establishment and enforcement, paternity, guardianship of minor children, and prenuptial agreements.

Divorce. Divorce (also known as dissolution of marriage) involves filing a petition seeking a dissolution of the marriage and division of marital assets.  Under Indiana law there is a presumption of a 50-50 split of marital assets.  However, there are factors which can be used to shift the division of marital assets away from that presumed 50-50 split.  Most courts in Indiana want parties in a divorce to work towards a settlement which is why most cases are referred to mediation.  During mediation, an impartial mediator will work with the parties and their attorneys to agree to a settlement.  In certain cases, a party may be entitled to spousal support (maintenance) provided certain criteria as defined under Indiana law are met.

Child Support is required under Indiana law where two adults have a child or children.  One party may be required to pay to the other party child support.  Factors such as income, custody, parenting time, daycare and health care expenses all go into the calculation of how much child support should be paid.  If a party has been ordered to pay child support and is not paying support as ordered, the other party may seek enforcement of the order through a contempt proceeding.

Paternity.  If a child is born out of wedlock and the child’s father has not been legally established at the time of birth, it may be necessary to establish paternity through a court proceeding. Through this proceeding the Court may order a DNA test to establish paternity.  If paternity is established the father then has a legal obligation to support the child. Typically, parenting time, the child’s last name, and health care expenses are also addressed during this process.

Guardianship of minor children.  Guardianships may be necessary where a minor does not have a parent that is capable of caring for and making decisions for a child, or in school transfer situations where a minor is changing school districts to live with another family member.

Adoption.  An adoption proceeding is a Court proceeding that establishes a non-biological adult(s) as the parent(s) of a child.  The rights of the biological parent(s) are terminated and the adopted child becomes the legal child of the adoptive parents.

Prenuptial.  A prenuptial agreement (also known as a premarital agreement) is an agreement that is made before marriage to resolve issues of support, property division and inheritance if the marriage ends in divorce or upon the death of a spouse.

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