In many affluent states who have significantly different divorce laws, the concept of alimony is common. Generally, alimony is a weekly or monthly stipend paid after the divorce to maintain the other spouse’s standard of living if they had not divorced. This is particularly the case where one spouse has not worked and become accustomed to a certain lifestyle. Indiana does not follow this model and “alimony” is not recognized under Indiana’s divorce act. However, there are at least three ways deft trial counsel can assist with this situation at the time of divorce under Indiana law that are discussed in this blog.
Rehabilitation maintenance. Along the same theme as alimony, certain spouses may not have current skills to enter the workforce and make a decent living at the time of the divorce. For this reason, the Indiana Divorce act provides for rehab maintenance. With the correct showing in evidence, a party may obtain rehab maintenance. This allows the under-earning spouse to obtain monies from the other for up to three years to obtain an education or trade to equal out the inability to have better employment. However, it is capped at three years. The court may order any reasonable amount. The key is to develop the evidence to put on at trial to demonstrate the need for rehab maintenance. Skilled trial counsel may well use a vocational expert to establish this.
Disability maintenance. Indiana also recognizes that one spouse may be physically or mentally disabled at the time of the divorce. If this is the case, and it is established in the evidence, the trial court has the authority under the Divorce Act to award disability maintenance for as long as the condition exists. However, this is a sophisticated legal argument that is almost always going to require an expert, so planning this part of your divorce trial theme well in advance is key to prevailing on this at trial. The judge has the discretion to award disability maintenance, but the evidence has to reflect the need.
Unequal division of property. The trial court has the authority to divide the marital estate in a just and equitable manner and can consider any fact related to the same. This is not directly related to maintenance (again the closest Indiana comes to alimony) but the right argument about earning power can factor into the court making an unequal division. This means that a court may provide you with more money or assets because of your limited earning ability. The Divorce Act is very flexible in equity to allow judges to make a fair and equitable division of the marital estate.
The take-away from this blog is there is no “alimony” in Indiana but other tools to protect a spouse who has been out of the workforce or otherwise facing a bleak future due to divorce because of the earning ability of the other spouse. This is where skilled trial counsel comes into play to assist you with developing these arguments and, if necessary, obtaining experts to advocate your position at trial. This blog is written for general educational purpose and is not legal advice or a solicitation for legal services. It is an advertisement.