Property Division Lawyers Serving Lake County, Indiana
When it comes to property division, the last thing you want to do is wait until there is trouble to look into the laws and regulations of your state. If that is exactly the kind of situation you have found yourself in, however, do not worry! At Funk & Wendlinger, LLC, we are experienced with property division cases, especially those resulting from a dissolution of marriage, and are confident in our ability to ensure that you receive the best possible outcome in your divorce. It should be noted that Indiana law tends to accept property division agreements that both parties have agreed to; however, this is only true should they find that agreement to be reasonable and fair to all parties. Should no agreement be reached, the family law courts will divide the property as according to the domestic relations court as it is situated within the judgment of divorce.
How does Indiana divide property?
Indiana is known as an equitable distribution state. This means that it follows something known as the “all property” model, where separate property appreciation is marital. Note that this doesn’t mean “equal” distribution – that is not what “equitable” means. It doesn’t even mean that the division will be an equal 50-50 split. It just means that the division of marital property must be fair as considered by the domestic relations court. Note that Indiana law allows for a rebuttable presumption. This means that a party in the divorce can object – or rebut – the equal distribution model if they are able to present evidence that proves such an equal distribution of property would be neither reasonable nor fair.
Something that is often overlooked when it comes to property division in Indiana is that while it is a no-fault divorce state, the court could find that one party in particular managed to dissipate marital assets. Someone with a gambling problem, for example, might go through much of the marital assets all on their own. In this kind of situation, the other party could invoke the rebuttal presumption and ask the courts to reconsider the idea of equitable distribution in this particular case. The court would, in turn, probably eschew the 50-50 model at that point and instead focus on allowing each party to keep what they brought with them into the marriage.
Separate Property Vs. Marital Property
This is an issue that confuses many individuals. When you are in a marriage, you probably make many purchases. Some of these are purchased for your use, and some of them are purchased for your spouse’s use. Some of them are purchased for both of you to use. With that in mind, you might think that property division at the dissolution of a marriage would carefully divide the property up. In reality, Indiana is an all property state. That means that property acquired or owned by either party during or before the marriage, as well as assets that were acquired via joint efforts, is considered marital property. The only way to ensure that purchases are kept separate is to execute a prenuptial agreement before the marriage takes place.
Note that this marital property can include retirement accounts and pensions, with a few exceptions. Vested pensions, for example, are considered marital property. Retirement accounts that are contingent upon action from the party in question – one that depends upon the party working for the employer for a specific number of years, which has not yet been fulfilled at the dissolution of the marriage – on the other hand, are not considered marital property and are not subject to division. With that said, unvested pensions are also considered marital property, even if the requirements have not yet been met.
When it comes to property division, a lawyer can be a big help. This is especially true when you are attempting to ensure that you receive a fair deal in the dissolution and do not end up losing far more property or more assets than the other party. A lawyer can help you ensure that your rights are upheld, and they can also help determine if there is anything you can do to protect specific assets. Without a lawyer, you are essentially at the mercy of the court as to what you are awarded and what you are not – and while you can object, eventually an agreement will have to be reached by the court if you are unable to reach one privately with your spouse.
For more information regarding property division and how an experienced lawyer can help, contact Funk & Wendlinger, LLC, online today or call 219-865-0002. We are happy to help you determine the kind of property division strategy that is right for your case.