Family law in Indiana applies to marriage, divorce, and parental rights and obligations. These issues encompass financial matters, asset ownership, living arrangements, and safe environments for children. As you can imagine, strong emotions often accompany these legal topics, and disputes are common. If you are unsure about your rights or need to know how to pursue a specific goal, you may need a family law attorney in Indiana. A family lawyer can provide many services whether you are in a crisis or making routine plans for the future.
Types of Family Law Services
Our clients at Webster & Garino, LLC come to us with many concerns about family law in Westfield. Speaking with a lawyer does not necessarily mean that you will have to go to court. Although litigation remains an important option that needs to be exercised sometimes, lawyers resolve many cases without taking the matter before a judge.
In general, lawyers provide:
- Legal advice
- Assistance with negotiations
- Document preparation
- Court filings
- Investigation and evidence collection
- Representation in court
Some people only need to consult a lawyer before making a decision. For example, you may not know what to do if asked to sign a premarital agreement. A family lawyer could look over the proposed agreement and discuss any concerns. Obtaining a legal opinion might be enough for you to decide or require more services, such as initiating negotiations to alter the terms.
In other situations, you might need complete legal services in which your lawyer helps you track down information and then uses it as evidence in a court case. An example of such a case would be a divorce in which someone thinks that the spouse is hiding assets to avoid their division. A lawyer may need to go to court to force the release of financial records and then litigate the divorce in the hopes of winning a fair settlement for the client.
Premarital and Postmarital Agreements
Family law in Indiana outlines certain things that a premarital agreement can and cannot do. A premarital agreement is a contract in which two people planning to marry establish the financial parameters of a hypothetical divorce. Many people know of this document by the term prenuptial agreement.
When preparing a premarital agreement, you should have independent representation from your own family attorney in Westfield, who will evaluate the legality and enforceability of the document. The contract cannot eliminate your right to child custody or take away the option of spousal support if unforeseeable events have exposed you to unexpected financial hardship.
Premarital agreements are used mainly by people who wish to segregate real estate or business assets from the marital estate. This is done to formally establish something as a nonmarital asset and prevent lengthy disputes should the marriage end.
Occasions also arise when couples need to negotiate an agreement after having already married. A lawyer representing you during the negotiation of a postmarital agreement will protect your interests in the same way as when making a premarital agreement.
Divorce frequently motivates people to seek legal advice and representation. The financial decisions made when dividing marital assets can have far-reaching effects on your future.
In Indiana, a family law attorney examines your financial situation and explains how family law in Indiana will direct the division of property, child custody, and child and/or spousal support. State law upholds the standard that the division should be fair and equitable. The result may not necessarily be an equal 50/50 split but should represent a reasonable outcome based on the circumstances. No one should “lose everything” in a divorce unless voluntarily signing away rights to everything.
Although asset division inspires many disputes, marital debts are often the most contentious issue outside of child custody. Divorce requires the division of debts, and you may need to know how the law would apply to debts incurred only by your spouse.
Difficulty coming to terms does not always mean that you must leave the final decisions to a judge. In fact, your family lawyer should strive to avoid litigation due to the added cost, prolonged timeline, and risk of an arbitrary judicial decision. To avoid this, your lawyer might recommend mediation. A trained mediator might help you and your former partner overcome differences and reach acceptable compromises.
Disagreements about access to children can become very heated. Parents will dig in their heels on issues concerning their relationship with their children.
Although strong opinions can make agreements challenging to reach, the law recognizes the importance for both parents to have an active role in their children’s lives and encourages parenting time for both parents. The Court will initially aim for a 50/50 division of parenting time, but this is not practical for everyone. Work schedules, relocation, or difficulty providing child-appropriate housing can interfere with an equal division of parenting time.
As you work through the issues surrounding custody, a lawyer could help you address important subjects like:
- Transport to school
- Religious instruction
- Extracurricular activities
- Drop off and pick up times
When parents cannot reach an agreement or one parent is ignoring the terms of a custody order, then going to court will become necessary. A lawyer will present evidence supportive of your position. For example, your lawyer might show that you have a loving relationship with your children and provide a safe home life.
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What you pay or receive in child support is determined by state guidelines that account for income, expenses, and parenting time. A family attorney in Westfield is trained to manage several child custody issues, including:
- The initial calculation of support
- Modification of support when circumstances change
- Enforcement of unpaid child support orders
Other Family Law Matters
Just as families occupy a considerable part of our private lives, family matters have a broad scope within the law. You may need advice about family law in Westfield under many circumstances that may or may not involve marriage or divorce.
Common family law issues that can leave you in need of legal representation include:
- Establishing or challenging paternity
- Becoming the guardian of a child after the sudden death of parents
- Adopting a child or foster child
- Estate planning
Don’t Make Assumptions About Your Rights
What people believe about family law and what is actually on the books do not always match. Your future and your family’s future are supremely important, and you need a careful analysis of your legal position before making decisions. At Webster & Garino, LLC, we strive to solve your problems efficiently. To speak with a family lawyer, call 317-565-1818 or email us today.