Indiana is an equitable property division state, meaning that the court will divide property in the way it sees as most fair, not necessarily equally.
In many divorces, dividing property is the most difficult part of the process. In many cases, spouses cannot agree on how to divide their assets and debts, so they need the court to decide. Those going through divorce in Indiana should be aware of how the court makes decisions about dividing assets.
Marital and Separate property
The first step in dividing property in an Indiana divorce is determining what is marital property and what is each spouse’s separate property. In general, all property that either spouse acquires after marriage is marital property. Some exceptions to this general rule are inheritances left to one spouse only and gifts to one spouse.
While assets that a spouse had prior to marriage are considered separate property, in many cases it can be difficult to differentiate marital and separate property because couples often commingle the two. For example, spouses may deposit money they earned after marriage into bank accounts opened prior to the marriage. As such, the court has the discretion to divide both separate and marital assets in the manner that it deems most fair.
Once the court has determined what is marital property and what is each spouse’s separate property, it will divide the property equitably. While there is a presumption that dividing the marital property equally is equitable, equitable does not always mean equal. A spouse may make a claim to a greater share of property, and the court will decide if an unequal division of property would be more equitable based on several factors, including:
- Each spouse’s contribution to acquiring property, whether those contributions produced income or not
- The economic circumstances of each spouse
- The income, or ability to earn income, of each spouse
- Whether either spouse dissipated marital assets
- Whether it is desirable to award the marital home to the spouse who has primary custody of the couple’s children
The court may consider the tax implications for each spouse when dividing marital property. If a couple has little or no marital property to divide, and one spouse made a substantial contribution to the other spouse’s education, the court may enter a money judgment to reimburse the spouse who made the contribution.
Contact a lawyer
Leaving a marriage without getting enough property can make a person financially unstable for years afterward. It is important for those going through divorce to obtain enough assets to ensure financial security, and the best way to do that is to seek the assistance of a seasoned divorce attorney. A skilled divorce attorney will help ensure that a division of property is fair. If you are considering divorce, talk to a divorce attorney who can help protect your interests.