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
Child support is intended to provide children with the standard of living that they would have enjoyed if their household had remained intact. Once the court issues a child support order, the order may only be modified if statutory criteria are met. The same rules apply to an order for college or post-secondary education expenses, which is in the nature of a child support order. Indiana Code § 31-16-8-1 includes the standards that must be met before a parent may request a modification of a child support order.
Substantial and Continuing Change of Circumstances
The first way that a child support order may be modified is if the parent requesting the modification is able to show that substantial and continuing changed circumstances have occurred that have made the current child support order unreasonable. Examples of these changes of circumstances are the emancipation of one of the children who are subject to a child support order, changes in employment and income of a parent, incarceration of a parent, or if an agreed change in the custodial arrangement between the parents has occurred.
Changes to Factors in Child Support Calculation
The second way that a child support order may be modifiable is if an updated child support calculation would result in more than a 20% change from the child support order in effect, and if the child support order has been in place for at least twelve months before the petition for modification is filed. A more than 20% change in the child support amounts can come about through an increase or decrease in the income of a parent, or changes to the other factors considered in a child support calculation such as the number of children subject to the order, the cost of the children’s healthcare and/or work-related childcare expenses, or the number of overnights exercised by the non-custodial parent.
If a modification of child support is granted, the earliest date that the modification may be retroactive to is the date that the petition to modify was filed. The two exceptions to this rule are if the parents have agreed to and complied with a different method of payment which is in substantial compliance with the intention of the child support order, or if the parent who is paying child support assumes custody of the child so that a permanent change of custody occurs.
Child support modifications are very fact-sensitive. Consult with an experienced family law attorney regarding the details of your case.
By: Casandra L. Ringlespaugh, Attorney
The Indiana Civil Protection Order Act, or ICPOA, is a set of laws passed Indiana in 2002 in regards to domestic and family violence. Under the ICPOA, Courts can issue Orders to protect people from domestic or family violence, stalking, or a sex offense. These Court Orders are called “Protection Orders” or “Orders for Protection,” and the terms are used interchangeably. A protective order may be issued when a Judge finds, by a majority of the evidence, that the respondent (other person) represents a credible threat to the safety of petitioner…
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: Julie Andrews, Attorney
A few years ago, the legislature passed a law that changed the age of emancipation in Indiana. Children are emancipated at age 19. The legal effect of this is that parents no longer have a legal obligation to financially support children once they attain 19 years of age. But what happens if a parent has a child with a disability? The controlling statute regarding emancipation Indiana Code § 31-16-6-6 which states in relevant part:
(a) The duty to support a child under this chapter, which does not include support for educational needs, ceases when the child becomes nineteen (19) years of age unless any of the following conditions occurs:
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If you take inventory of your friends’ relationships you will most likely find a few couples that are living together. Cohabitation can often mean joint bank accounts, joint purchases, joint contracting, joint debts, and of course, joint puppy or kitten purchasing. All of these joint transactions can have legal implications in the event of a split.
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: Sarah T. Starkey, Attorney
Most often the stories that the media report on when it comes to children being removed from their parent’s care by the State involve abuse or neglect of those children while in foster care. This leaves the public with a bad taste in their mouth when it comes to thinking of those charged with protecting our state’s youth. While the stories of children being abused and neglected in foster care are most definitely newsworthy, so too are the stories of the successes in these cases, so seldom reported on by the media.
by: Brian K. Zoeller, Attorney
Custody disputes often play a part in divorce proceedings. Even though the marriage is ending, a couple may have children to raise and want to remain active parents and do what is in the best interest of the child. Joint custody is a popular choice for many parents and allows them equal opportunity to spend time with their children. The alternative is an arrangement where one parent has primary custody while the other retains rights of parenting time and is able to maintain a presence in the child’s life.