There is never a good time for a divorce. Just the thought is “sickening” for most spouses. However, some marriages will not withstand the test of time—in fact, roughly half of them—and a divorce will occur. While many factors may play into a divorce, such as timing (i.e., when the kids graduate from high school) and planning (e.g., securing a certain job or finding a place to potentially move if it gets nasty), this blog addresses three situations when you must consider filing for divorce now versus later for your own financial security, protection of your children and minimizing loss of freedom from criminal charges.
Mental Illness: According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 U.S. adults experiences mental illness each year. So, this is not an isolated problem and obviously occurs within many marriages. While most mental illnesses do not raise the specter of divorce, when a parent is harmful to the other spouse or is unable to meet the children’s best interests due to this condition, this may be the only option to avoid physical or emotional risk to every member of the family. A parent and spouse who does not address the mentally ill parent’s direct or indirect impact on the children may face risk from being criminally charged for not reporting abuse or neglect or having the Indiana Department of Child Services remove their children from their care. Furthermore, under the Indiana Divorce Act, it is possible that a spouse may be required to pay “maintenance” for the mentally incapacitated spouse for the period of the incapacity, even for life. Is this your case?1 If so, you would be wise to be proactive and consult with a lawyer while some or all of the choices are still yours to make.
Drug Addiction: While the headlines are riddled with stories of overdoses, these news stories are often disconnected from statistics. What are the numbers? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2013 an estimated 24.6 million Americans aged 12 or older—9.4 percent of the population—had used an illicit drug in the past month. The ways drug addiction can impact a family are innumerable. For instance, if your child is using or selling or drugs, he or she may be charged as a juvenile delinquent2 and need criminal defense counsel retained by his or her parents. The stories of what minors do while under the influence of drugs--from obtaining a DUI to rape to murder--are sadly common. For parents who are addicted to prescription or illicit drugs, the story is often more tragic because juvenile records are normally confidential and have lesser implications in adult life.3 For instance, a spouse may steal money from his/her employer and be fired, the family sued for recovery of the money under several theories, and the spouse who stole the money criminally charged. A licensed professional may have his or her license suspended or revoked, creating tremendous financial pressure on the family. In all these cases, the spouse should seek counsel to navigate a way through the legal chaos, which often means filing for divorce as a starting point to reflect the innocent spouse was not involved and provide a vehicle to untangle themselves from the situation as well as meet the children’s best interests.
Criminal Activity: The pressures of life routinely make us aware of a married couple who has a spouse who crossed the line and committed tax evasion or are charged for dealing drugs. While some couples have the innate desire to stand by the other spouse and just hope it works out, we all have heard horror stories where both spouses are charged for the crime and/or forfeit all the possessions or lose them to a civil judgment. A divorce lawyer is often the place to start to minimize risk by filing divorce—this declares legally, financially, and to the world at large the parties are no longer “together”. In addition, the prudent divorce attorney may bring other lawyers into play to assist-- from criminal defense counsel to bankruptcy attorneys and forensic CPAs. Ultimately, standing idly when you learn as a spouse of illegal activity creates risk by association and impairs the future by failing to address the problem now when you learn of it.
While these are complex divorce cases, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates handle them daily. There is hope and the future can be bright with the right legal counsel. The legal system and many skilled lawyers and judges are there to assist. This blog was written by advocates at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle complex divorce cases of all types throughout the State. This blog is written for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or as a solicitation for representation. It is an advertisement.
- Indiana Code 31-15-7-2(1).
- This means but for being under 18, he or she would be charged with a crime as an adult. This is defined by statute: “A child is a delinquent child if, before becoming eighteen (18) years of age, the child commits a delinquent act described in this chapter.” Ind.Code 31-37-1-1.
- A juvenile may be “waived” into adult court and tried as adult depending on age and the crime.