In this series of blog posts, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys explore the legal terms that often arise in divorce cases. To make this series meaningful, and tie it between similar and sometimes very different legal concepts, the letters of the alphabet are used to identify and explain key words and terms. There are seven common words to the divorce process that begin with “A.”
The first is “appeal.” A divorce decree and other “final” orders issued by a trial court may be appealed to the Indiana Court of Appeals. With an appeal, three judges review the appealed order, considering the evidence in the record (a transcript of what was testified to at hearing and exhibits). This Court may reverse errors, particularly if the final order misapplies the law.
A related concept, and second point, is “abuse of discretion.” This is the other type of appellate review (misapplication of the law or improper weighing of the factual evidence). This is where factual evidence relied upon by the trial court to issue the order leaves the Court of Appeals with a firm conviction a mistake was made.
Thirdly, a lawsuit may be filed to “annul” a marriage. If granted, this undoes the marriage, meaning it is legally treated as if it never occurred. This is limited to situations where there was fraud to induce the other to marry. This is particularly important in some religions where divorce is looked up with disfavor or not recognized.
The fourth is the term “alimony.” Indiana, unlike many other states, does not provide for or recognize a legal right to alimony for a spouse on granting a divorce, except for educational training for purposes to obtain a higher employment skill set or if he/she is physically disabled.
The fifth and six terms are “arrearage” and “abatement.” Both relate to payment of child support by the non-custodial parent or payor. When a payor parent falls behind in child support, an “arrearage” or amount unpaid accumulates. This continues, even with a job loss, until a parent modifies child support. Modification can only retroactively apply to the date of filing of such a request. Thus, time is of the essence.
On a child support topic, it used to be the law that a payor parent’s child support “abated” (reduced) by 50% in the summer; this child support reduction for extended time with the non-custodial parent while school is on summer recess has now been replaced by parenting time credit.
Each of these legal concepts raised in this blog is related, but distinct. Divorce is an emotional event, at least as it relates to children, and a financial one as it relates to dividing the marital assets and liabilities. There is little to no ability to correct mistakes later. Thus, it is wise to consider and retain counsel for all these types of matters that have life-long implications.
Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates practice domestic law throughout the State of Indiana and also handle appeals. This blog post is written for general educational purposes and is not a solicitation for legal representation.