There are many women (and men) who elect to stay home after the birth of their children and be a homemaker. No one doubts this is a full-job, but when divorce strikes it often leaves fear in the stay-at-home parent because he/she had been out of the workforce for so long. This is particularly daunting since Indiana presumes that the parties will divide the marital estate 50/50. There are many potential protections for the spouse who has been out of the workforce for some time. A skilled attorney may use some of these protections to make a just and equitable division of the marital estate. This blog addresses some of those protections and options.
While Indiana does not have alimony, the Divorce Act provides for rehabilitation maintenance for the spouse who has been out of the workforce. This is maintenance that allows the stay at home parent to go back to college or trade school to be prepared for the work world. This may be in a reasonable amount and last for up to three years. With good lawyering, an attorney can present the costs of the education and why it is needed to make the case for rehab maintenance.
It is possible for the court to make an unequal division of the marital estate. This is to compensate the under-empowered for the future lower earnings due to being out of the workforce for an extended period of time. This means the court might make a 60 percent division of the net estate to the stay-at-home spouse. This too is a way that may be used in conjunction with rehab maintenance to create a just and reasonable divorce result which is the aim of every Indiana trial judge. However, your counsel must put this in the evidence to obtain and in order to show this is just and equitable.
Indiana also has a disability statute that would allow any disabled spouse to obtain disability from the other (former) spouse in divorce for so long as the disability exists. The is a similar statute for disabled children.
Another way Indiana divorce courts may assist the spouse with such limited earning power is by an attorney fee award for the legal fees for the divorce itself. Depending on the complexity of the assets and disputes about custody, a great disparity in income is a reason for the divorce court to order your spouse who has worked while you cared for the children to pay your fees. The court has wide discretion to award attorneys’ fees to reach fairness in each and every divorce and in post-divorce proceedings.
Ultimately, with skilled counsel, there are many tools in the Divorce Act like this to protect a stay-at-home parent that may be forced to return to the workforce due to divorce. The key is to prepare and present your case to the fact-finder, namely the trial court judge. This takes time and development of the evidence with a skilled divorce attorney. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates handle domestic cases of all types throughout the State. This blog is written for general educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.