Fort Wayne Attorneys Advocate for the Support Payments You Need
Helping you maintain quality of life after divorce or separation
For many people, divorce or separation carries a significant economic shock. Lesser-earning spouses and custodial parents worry about how to continue to provide for themselves and their children. Higher-earning spouses and noncustodial parents face concerns about the effect that child and spousal support payments can have on their finances. While courts determine child support cases according to mathematical rules, spousal support cases require a variety of factors to be considered. With almost 50 years of combined experience, our lawyers understand how support matters play out in court. We help clients understand their rights, negotiate fair and workable settlements, and, if necessary, present their cases to the court.
As required by federal law, Indiana has adopted minimal guidelines that serve as a child support calculator in most straightforward cases. Even these guidelines, however, are complex when compared to those of other states. In simplest terms, Indiana determines a total child support obligation by calculating the combined weekly income of both parents adjusted for prior support obligations, and other allowable expenses — and apportions that obligation between the parents based on their percentage share of the total income. Courts may further adjust this basic support obligation for child health insurance, extraordinary medical and educational expenses, and the allocation of overnights/parenting time.
While these guidelines are presumed to yield a fair result, Indiana courts may deviate from them at their discretion. An attorney can argue for a greater or lesser amount based on the custodial parent’s resources, the child’s prior standard of living, the child’s exceptional medical or educational needs, and the financial condition of the payor parent.
Due to a recent change in Indiana law, the obligation to pay child support now ends at age 19 unless the child is incapacitated or otherwise incapable of self-support. Support may end before age 19 only if the child is legally emancipated. However, because this change is so recent, parents who received a support order before July 1, 2012 can still request support for their child’s college needs until the child reaches the age of 21.
Spousal maintenance —formerly referred to as alimony — differs from child support in that it is not guaranteed during or after divorce. Spousal maintenance is also not computed with the same mathematical precision as child support. The guidelines only offer vague upper limits on the amount of maintenance that can be awarded. Spousal maintenance essentially falls into three categories:
- Temporary maintenance — Indiana courts may issue provisional orders setting temporary spousal maintenance — often called alimony pendente lite, or APL, in other jurisdictions — while a divorce is pending. Temporary spousal maintenance continues only until the court issues a final decree of divorce and usually cannot exceed 35 percent of the payor spouse’s adjusted weekly income.
- Rehabilitative maintenance — A court may order post-decree rehabilitative maintenance if it finds that a divorcing spouse needs time to develop the necessary educational and vocational skills to achieve self-support following divorce and a previous educational effort was interrupted by the marriage. Rehabilitative maintenance can last for no more than three years after the divorce is finalized.
- Permanent maintenance – If a court finds that a divorcing spouse is physically or mentally incapacitated such that the ability of the spouse to support himself or herself is materially affected or if the spouse must forego employment to care for an incapacitated child and lacks financial resources to do so, the court may award maintenance for any period it deems appropriate.
Contact practical Indiana support lawyers for assistance
The obligation to pay or the right to receive child support or maintenance can drastically change your finances for years to come. At Shilts & Setlak, LLC, Mike and Kathy, our child support and spousal maintenance attorneys can explain your rights and help you negotiate a support resolution that meets your individual circumstances. If you are considering divorce, seeking child support, or have been sued for support, call our office today at 260-489-0700 or contact us online. We are conveniently located in suburban Fort Wayne and offer initial consultations for a reasonable nominal fee.