If you and your spouse are able to come to an agreement that the judge agrees is fair to both of you, he or she may include it in the final decree without any adjustments. So, you need to understand exactly what the judge considers “fair.”
Indiana laws list the following factors that contribute to a division of property that is fair and equitable to both spouses.
Contribution to the marital property
Staying at home, whether to manage the household or to raise the children, has become increasingly common. Being a “homemaker” does not lessen a person’s contribution to the marital property. The court recognizes that this role often makes the breadwinning spouse’s success possible.
Perhaps you or your spouse already owned real estate, retirement accounts and investments before the marriage, or received a large inheritance. While a judge may not divide separate property that you have not commingled with the marital property, he or she may consider how it will affect your financial situation after the divorce.
Judges frown on behavior such as squandering assets or spending them in a way that is unfair to the other spouse. For example, if one spouse makes rash purchases or gambles money away so that the other spouse cannot have it in the divorce, the judge may simply award the other spouse with more for balance.
A spouse may expect to receive less if he or she spends marital funds on a relationship outside of the marriage, such as booking trips with a boyfriend or girlfriend or buying him or her expensive gifts.
If one spouse has considerable earning potential and the other does not, a judge may divide the property in a way that allows the spouse with less earning potential to continue to enjoy a standard of living as close as possible to what spouses had during the marriage.
You may have other factors that affect your property division agreement with your spouse. Judges are usually willing to consider unique circumstances if these affect the fairness of the outcome. More information about property division considerations is available on our webpage.