In the instance of a dissolution of marriage in Indiana, there may be a spouse that is unable to care for themselves on either a temporary or on an indefinite basis in certain instances. In some states it is called alimony, however, in Indiana it is called spousal maintenance. If you are in a situation where spousal maintenance may be in question, you need to speak with an Indiana family lawyer that handles spousal maintenance. Call Zentz & Roberts, P.C at 317-678-9463 or email [email protected] to speak with an experienced attorney today.
What is Spousal Maintenance in Indiana?
Indiana divorce laws, outline the circumstances under which a court may grant a request for spousal maintenance or spousal support in a divorce in Indiana. A spousal maintenance order in Indiana requires one spouse to pay some form support to the other after the dissolution of marriage. The maintenance period may be limited in duration depending on the circumstances on which the award is based. Under Indiana Code § 31-15-7-2, a judge can make the determination 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 thus calling for the court to order some form of spousal support payments.
- 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, this can be awarded at the sole discretion of the court
Temporary Spousal Maintenance
There are instances in a dissolution of marriage when a judge may also award temporary spousal maintenance. After assessing a variety of factors, a court may find that rehabilitative maintenance for the spouse seeking maintenance is necessary in an amount and for a period of time that the court considers appropriate, but not to exceed three years from the date of the final decree.
These factors are used in determining temporary spousal support payments:
- Educational level of each spouse at the time of marriage
- Whether an interruption in the education, training, or employment of a spouse who is seeking maintenance occurred during the marriage as a result of homemaking or child care responsibilities, or both
- Earning capacity of each spouse, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, and length of presence in or absence from the job market
- Time and educational expenses necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse who is seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment.
This form of maintenance may be done via a support order, but 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:
- Spousal education level and background
- Whether homemaking or childcare duties interrupted education or training for the spouse seeking spousal maintenance
- Earning capacity
- Training history
- Work history of each spouse
- Length of absence from education, training or time out of the workforce
- Time and expense required for the party seeking spousal support to become employable
How is Caregiver Maintenance Determined?
According to Indiana law, spousal maintenance based on the incapacity of the party seeking support or a child of the party seeking spousal support may be limited in duration to the period of incapacity. When determining an award of spousal incapacity or caregiver maintenance, the judge will consider the following factors:
- Financial and other circumstances of each party
- Nature and anticipated duration of the incapacity
- Nature of care required for the incapacitated person
The court may order spousal incapacity or caregiver maintenance for the duration of the incapacity.
Indiana Laws on Indefinite Spousal Maintenance in Indiana
The court may order indefinite spousal maintenance to be paid indefinitely in some circumstances. The family court judge can take the following actions:
If the court finds a spouse to be physically or mentally incapacitated to the extent that the ability of the incapacitated spouse to support himself or herself is materially affected, the court may find that maintenance for the spouse is necessary during the period of incapacity, subject to further order of the court.
Under the Indiana spousal maintenance statute, If the court finds that a spouse lacks sufficient property, including marital property apportioned to the spouse, to provide for the spouse’s needs, and 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.
The court can order for maintenance to be modified after demonstrating that the circumstances around the maintenance are substantial and that if it is continued, the terms could be seen as unreasonable.
How Long Does Spousal Maintenance Last in Indiana?
As previously stated, Indiana spousal maintenance is based on how long a spouse’s or a dependent child’s incapacity will be, or for the entire period of incapacity. While at the same time, rehabilitative maintenance is more limited. A judge may order spousal rehabilitative maintenance for a period no more than 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 Indiana maintenance for spousal support. For this reason, working with an Indiana family law lawyer that understands spousal maintenance is essential to the success of your claim.
When Can You Get Indiana Spousal Maintenance?
The Indiana spousal maintenance statute, Indiana Code Chapter 31-15-7 is included in the divorce decree and paid after the divorce is final. The length and amount of Indiana spousal maintenance payments 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 for the marital home
- Mortgage for the marital home
- Rent payments for the marital home.
Prenuptial or Post Nuptial Agreement Spousal Support
Not all Indiana spousal maintenance requests are disputed. Rather, parties to a divorce sometimes agree to a maintenance order. The parties’ agreement may be in a premarital 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 agreement or an agreement made after a the marriage has ended, a judge would determine the agreements enforceability due to the potential civil contractual implications.
There are instances where the separating parties may agree during 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.