By: Nicole Makris, Attorney
When marriage is on the horizon, the discussion of a premarital agreement can be an important step in planning for the future. Some people are hesitant about discussing a premarital agreement with their significant other because they fear it appears to be “planning for divorce.” This outlook overlooks the numerous benefits to a premarital agreement. Similar to an insurance policy, the premarital agreement is only there if you need it someday. Here are five reasons to consider when deciding if a premarital agreement is right for you.
- Premarital agreements can be personalized.
You can design your premarital agreement to meet your specific needs. Some couples only wish to distinguish their personal property owned prior to the marriage as separate property so that the rest of the property acquired during the marriage would be considered marital property in the event of divorce. Premarital agreements can be limited in scope to protect specific assets, such as inheritances or residences, or to designate responsibility for specific debts, such as student loans.
- Premarital agreements promote financial disclosure.
The process of entering into a premarital agreement helps promote transparency as to each party’s assets and debts. The sharing of financial standings with one another before marriage can help promote openness in dialogue surrounding financial matters during the marriage.
- Premarital agreements are not only for people who have significant assets at the time of the marriage.
Indiana law considers all property of the parties to a marriage to be marital property subject to division. A premarital agreement can be especially important for individuals who have significant assets that he or she will be bringing into the marriage. Through a premarital agreement, these assets can be classified as that individual’s separate property if a divorce occurs. When an individual has interests in a family business, a premarital agreement can designate the business interests as that person’s non-marital property. However, premarital agreements are not only for people who have significant assets at the time of the marriage. Even if neither party has personal property of value at the time of the marriage, a premarital agreement can plan for the division of future assets that the couple acquires throughout the marriage, such as retirement accounts.
- Premarital agreements can simplify property division in the event of divorce.
Premarital agreements can be extremely valuable in the event of divorce by outlining each spouse’s property rights, from real estate to bank accounts. Premarital agreements also allocate responsibility for debts of the couple, such as credit cards and vehicle loans. Having an agreement on these issues before marriage can minimize the number of issues that the couple must determine if a spouse later files for divorce.
- Premarital agreements may be modified.
You and your spouse can decide to make changes to your premarital agreement during the marriage. Any modification will need to be in accordance with the terms of the original premarital agreement. Couples may choose to modify a premarital agreement when new significant assets or debts have been acquired or if they agree upon a new division of property in the event of dissolution of the marriage.
Premarital agreements can provide clarity to couples on property issues and simplify the division of property if divorce occurs in the future. I have helped many clients over the years with premarital agreements. If you are considering a premarital agreement or have additional questions, please contact me for a consultation.
By: Nicole Makris, Attorney
The coronavirus (COVID-19) has had a significant effect on daily life as we know it. With school closures, travel advisories, and the economic repercussions of the virus, the COVID-19 outbreak presents numerous possible implications for family law cases. Your family law matter could potentially be impacted in the following areas:
Parents should strive in these unprecedented times to cooperate with one another for the child’s wellbeing. Efforts should be made to maintain the normal parenting time schedule to the extent possible. The Executive Order (“Directive for Hoosiers to Stay at Home”) issued on March 23, 2020 includes that travel required to transport children pursuant to a custody agreement falls within the category of “Essential Travel”. Parents should communicate with one another regarding any changes to the parenting time schedule and should be flexible with make-up time. While flexibility is important, any changes to the parenting time schedule and the reasons for the change should be documented in writing. Expectations regarding the child’s E-learning should be clearly communicated between parents, as should any changes in the health of the child or other household family members in each parent’s respective households. If a parent opts to self-quarantine or is otherwise unable to exercise parenting time, the other parent should facilitate FaceTime and phone calls with the child.
If you have encountered a significant decrease in hours, a loss of employment, or other financial hardship, you should consult with a family law attorney to review your current child support order. It is crucial to be proactive when seeking a modification of child support because the modification can only be retroactive to the date that the request to modify child support is filed (except in very specific circumstances, such as when the child has moved in with the parent who is paying child support).
If you have executed a prenuptial agreement but have had to delay your wedding, you should ensure that the agreement is up to date by the time that your wedding is rescheduled, including updated lists of each party’s non-marital assets and debts and their values and balances, as well as the new date of the wedding.
Property Issues in Dissolutions of Marriage
If your dissolution of marriage is pending, you should obtain updated valuations of marital property before your case is finalized. Changes in the values of marital assets such as retirement accounts should be documented, and verified financial declarations should be updated.
Marital Settlement Agreements
It is possible that the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak could cause you to experience financial hardship to the extent that it is not possible for you to meet your obligations pursuant to your marital settlement agreement. For example, if you are unable to perform according to the property settlement or spousal maintenance provisions of your agreement due to the current events, you should consult with a family law attorney to review your settlement agreement and discuss your options in seeking to modify the agreement.
Precautionary court closures may cause continuances of upcoming hearings. Mediations are also likely to be either rescheduled or conducted by video conference.
Given the uncharted territory that coronavirus (COVID-19) presents, these are general topics to consider. This article is not legal advice. For specific questions on how the COVID-19 outbreak may affect your case, consult with an experienced family law attorney to discuss the facts of your situation.
By: Casandra L. Ringlespaugh, Attorney
Every 9 seconds in the US, a woman is assaulted or beaten, according to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice. Although intimate partner physical violence affects both men and women, women are much more likely be severely physically abused, with statistically 1 in 3 women as compared to 1 in 7 men who have been reported to be victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Moreover, battery is the single major cause of injury to women, exceeding rapes, muggings, and auto accidents combined. In the United States, intimate partner violence accounts for approximately 15% of all violent crime according to a U.S. Department of Justice special report on nonfatal domestic violence. In a staggering statistic, 2 out of every 3 female homicides in the U.S. were at the hand of an intimate partner between 1980 and 2008.
Catholic Pope Amends Religious Annulment Process — What is the difference between a religious and civil annulment?
By: Elizabeth A. Eichholtz, Attorney
Pope Francis announced on Tuesday, September 8, 2015 that the Catholic Church is changing the religious annulment process . The amendments make the process easier and cheaper for individuals seeking an annulment. What does this mean for Indiana couples who were married in the Catholic Church and are now seeking a divorce? While this change is intended to make the religious annulment process easier, it has no actual bearing on the divorce process. To better understand the implications of the new process, it’s important to note the difference between a civil divorce and a religious annulment and how those are treated within the context of civil and canon law.
By: Elizabeth A. Eichholtz, Attorney
In any dissolution of marriage case, a question frequently posed by potential clients is: “Will he/she/I be ordered to pay alimony?” In Indiana, what was historically referred to as alimony is now termed “spousal maintenance.” There are two (2) categories of spousal maintenance: (1) temporary spousal maintenance, which may be ordered to be paid by one party during the pendency of the divorce; and (2) spousal maintenance paid once the divorce has been made final by the court.
It seems like everyone is talking about Generation Y, or Millennials, and how they will be impacting the workforce and society in general in the next few years. Demographers estimate this generation to be the largest population cohort the U.S. has ever seen. Generation Y is defined as people born between 1983-2000, although opinions do differ by a few years.
by: Brian K. Zoeller, Attorney
Do-it-yourself projects can be found all over cable television. Celebrity chefs show us how to create the most amazing meals to wow our family and friends. Contractors design and create the perfect backyard landscaping project within short timeframes and assure us that with a little knowledge and several extra pairs of hands, we too can have a showcase home. In our neighborhoods, local stores put on demonstrations to show us how easily we can frame our own pictures or reupholster our furniture.
by: Julie Andrews, Attorney
Apparently, Katie has definitely lost that lovin’ feeling…as the world knows the TomKat union is coming to an end. It is rumored that an airtight pre-marital agreement, favoring Tom, will dictate the division of assets, which may be a result of Tom’s prior two divorces and parting with his assets. Tom Cruise is reported to be worth an amount soaring into the billions and Katie Holmes’ worth is ‘only’ in the millions. In a previous article, I shared many reasons why a pre-marital agreement can help in the case of divorce.
by: Julie Andrews, Attorney
Imagine holding the winning Hoosier Lotto ticket worth a cool $34.5 Million dollars! Then imagine having to give half of it away to a soon-to-be ex spouse! Not too enticing, is it?
For those of you who have not followed the drama behind the recent Hoosier Lotto winning ticket, the story goes like this: A winning ticket was sold in Shelby County worth $34.5. A few days later, a woman received a call from her estranged husband, who coincidentally lives in Shelby County. The husband requested finalization of their divorce.
by: Sarah T. Starkey, Attorney
Divorce can be quite difficult from both an emotional standpoint, as well as a legal standpoint. A little planning on your part can help ease the stress of your divorce proceeding and possibly save you time and money. While each case is different, the following tips can help you get started.
1. Collect your statements. Often times one spouse has primarily handled the finances for the household, leaving the other spouse in the dark as to what actually comprises the marital estate. You can educate yourself, and assist your attorney, by gathering statements for your bills, bank accounts and other assets and debts. If your statements are electronic, you can call and request to have paper statements mailed to you for your credit card balances, mortgages, and auto loans.