“Is spousal support or maintenance the same as alimony? Is it likely that these provisions of Indiana law apply in my situation?”
At Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. we have a commitment to education: of ourselves, of other attorneys and of the members of the general public. We might never meet you and pass like ships in the night. Nevertheless, we hope that one tidbit of information that we provide in this site will allow you to have a smoother divorce and a better life.
A critical part of this orientation is separating fact from fiction: what we would like the law to be for any given client or circumstance from what it is to a legal certainty. Without doing so, the parties, lawyers, and judiciary all seems at odds and may not appear to provide a fair outcome for a divorce litigant.
Alimony is one of those hot-button legal topics where perception is often distorted and far from reality. From time to time, the tabloids sensationalize an alimony award of a celebrity in a less-conservative state.
In fact, in Indiana, alimony is not the proper legal term, but instead, it is spousal support or maintenance. However, a commonality shared with alimony provided for in other states is that in Indiana it may be awarded while a divorce case is pending and afterwards in narrower circumstances.
Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. spousal support attorneys are adept at analyzing each and every case to determine if spousal support is appropriate and obtainable. A typical case unfolds with the parties separating and one moving out of the marital residence. It is here the parties are in uncharted waters and where maintenance may be necessary.
Take the example of the stay-at-home mom. Sometimes a husband/father moves out and may take access to money with him by changing the account where his paycheck is electronically deposited. Suddenly, the mother may face a situation where there is not money to purchase food and pay the utilities.
This hypothetical husband may well have a valid moral reason and legal strategy for doing so, namely sending a message to his soon-to-be ex-wife to seek employment. In the short-term, the way the message is being sent, namely not proving resources for the family, may have to be addressed by a trial court, which is likely to order the hypothetical father to pay temporary maintenance and support.
This does not speak to the issue of whether the mother should seek and obtain employment. Instead, it merely maintains the status quo, and ensures the spouse and children’s needs are met, until the court has the time to fully hear the evidence. In large part, temporary maintenance or support does not benefit either party to a great degree as the Legislature has provided a provision for a squaring-up at final hearing.
Thus, if the judge ultimately agrees with the husband that the mother should have worked, but chose not to do so, this may be accounted for in the division of the marital estate. Critically, despite the best lawyering, a temporary maintenance or support order ends when the divorce is finalized. For this reason, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. spousal support attorneys are reserved on the amount of time and resources a client should commit to such a temporary legal issue and provide counsel accordingly. The question we try to collectively address with clients is what makes sense in the overall picture.
On the other hand, the spousal support lawyers at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. believe the real legal battle lines that should be drawn on maintenance usually stem from circumstances where it is needed post-decree (after the parties are divorced). Indiana is a very conservative state in terms of such maintenance.
By statute, a court may only order maintenance for an indefinite time if the spouse is physically or mentally incapacitated or must care for an incapacitated child and cannot work. To establish this and meet a client’s evidentiary burden, or to defend against such a position, it may well be the case that the spousal support attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advises to obtain a medical expert to assess this issue to ensure the most effective legal advocacy.
Most cases turn on the third type of maintenance, rehabilitative maintenance. This provision may apply in situations where one spouse has given up an education or career to raise the children or has a great disparity in earning power with the other spouse. In these cases, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. lawyers partner with its clients to understand the past and to make the best evidentiary case for rehab maintenance.
At the same time, the attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. understand the limits of rehab maintenance. It may only be awarded for a period up to three years. For a spouse who has been out of the workforce for a lengthy period of time, this may be insufficient to bring about equal earning power and is an incomplete legal position.
For this reason, by closely working with our clients, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. lawyers assess the legal position now, on divorce, and in the long term. If this projection reflects an unfairness, other tools may be considered, such as an unequal division of the marital estate on top of maintenance.
This is what we do as advocates. Perhaps you should consider the spousal support attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. as your legal counsel. Life — and in particular, affairs of the heart — are uncertain, so be certain of your counsel℠.
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