Be sure to visit a family law court in your County before you decide to hire an attorney to fight about "stuff." You will quickly learn whether the "things" you think you want in a divorce are worth the ugliness you will have to endure or inflict in order to get them. Call the court and ask what days and hours they hear family law cases. Plan on staying all day or go several times in order to get a realistic picture of what you can expect in family court.
Some of the basics about property are as follows:
The marital estate is made up of all the property you own individual or jointly and all the debts you owe individually or jointly on the date one of the parties files a petition for dissolution of marriage. This includes such things as retirement accounts and property held by the parties prior to the marriage. It does not include debts or assets that are incurred or obtained after the date of filing.
A court in Indiana must presume that an equal division of the marital estate is just and reasonable. However, this presumption may be rebutted by either party based on the specific circumstances of their case. Some of the circumstances that might rebut the 50/50 presumption are as follows:
1. The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of property, regardless of whether the contribution was income producing,
2. The extent to which the property was acquired by each spouse before the marriage or through inheritance or gift,
3. The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the property is to be divided, including the desirability of awarding the family residence or the right to dwell in the family residence for a period of time the court considers just to the spouse having custody of the children.
4. The earnings or earning ability of the parties as related to a final division of property and a final determination of the property rights of the parties.
It has been my experience that courts are unlikely to bump very far off of a 50/50 division except in extreme cases of income disparity and the existence of significant pre-marital assets that were not co-mingled during the marriage. Be sure to ask your attorney the "best case" "worst case" question if he or she suggests that you could get a better deal by going to court. And, oh yeah - be sure to ask what your attorney fees will be if the case isn't settled out of court.
If you have questions about property division in an Indiana diorce, contact Carol Jean Romine at 317-773-5997. Based in Noblesville, Indiana, Ms. Romine is a Family Law Attorney-Mediator. She has focused her energies on helping people divorce with dignity and has kept the majority of her clients out of court. Visit http://www.familylawfishersindiana.com for more info.