Carmel Divorce Legal Services
JR & Jill Emerson are dependable Carmel divorce lawyers who provide divorce and family law advice to clients in Carmel, Fishers, Zionsville and Westfield. JR & Jill Emerson have received numerous awards and are ranked among the best divorce attorneys in Carmel and Indianapolis on several websites. Jill & JR take an aggressive and progressive approach to family law, divorce, child custody, and child support issues in Indiana. Their main goal is to protect your interests while helping you achieve your objectives, no matter how difficult your situation.
Meet Our Attorneys
Understanding Divorce in Carmel, Indiana
In Indiana, there are three kinds of divorce you need to know about:
- Uncontested Divorce
- Contested Divorce
- Divorce by Publication
We handle all three types of divorce; for your convenience, generally, all of them can be accomplished by E-Mail, Fax, Regular Mail, or by a conventional office visit. However, flat fee cases are only offered for uncontested matters.
Read on to learn more about each type of divorce and how our Carmel divorce attorneys can help:
Uncontested Divorce in Carmel, Indiana
In Indiana, an Uncontested Divorce tends to be the quickest, least expensive, and least complicated way to divorce. To qualify for Uncontested Divorce, both spouses must meet all five of the following requirements:
- Agree to be divorced
- Reach an agreement on all issues
- Utilize only one attorney (Representing one party)
- Voluntarily sign all papers without service on any party
- Assets valued less than $250,000
Do Not Use This Process If:
- You and your spouse disagree about any issue in your divorce
- You or your spouse wants to file specific grounds for divorce, such as cruelty or adultery
- You or your spouse has an ongoing bankruptcy case
- The wife is pregnant, even if the husband is not the father
3rd Party Considerations:
- Wife has had a child by another man since the date of marriage
- This case requires that bio-dad is included in the suit
- An additional fee is required for intervening the 3rd party into the suit
- 3rd party must sign a waiver of service
Call to speak with a Carmel uncontested divorce attorney today.
What Is an Uncontested Divorce?
In an uncontested divorce, one party retains an attorney to draft all of the documents. Prior to having the divorce attorney draft the documents, both spouses agree to the terms of the divorce including, among other things, property division, child custody, and child support.
An uncontested divorce is a cost-effective way to work through the divorce process, however, you and your spouse must work together and negotiate the terms of the divorce. If there are minor children involved, both spouses will likely have to attend a parenting class. The divorce is usually final within 2 to 3 months from the filing of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. Call for a FREE telephone consultation with one of our Carmel divorce attorneys.
It is important to note that Jill & JR do NOT represent both parties in an Uncontested Divorce. They only represent the party who has retained their services. It is advisable that both parties seek representation to ensure his or her rights are being enforced.
Simply put, a Contested Divorce situation exists when the parties do NOT agree upon the terms to resolve the divorce. Usually, they cannot agree upon issues related to money or children.
Divorce by Publication
Divorce by Publication is available to those individuals seeking divorce with no knowledge of their spouse's whereabouts. When a divorce is filed the other party is entitled to learn that it is happening. If you don’t know where they are it can be difficult to mail them the divorce documents. In this case, there are special provisions that allow you to advise them with an ad in the newspaper that the divorce has been filed.
High Conflict Divorce
Sometimes spouses, for whatever reason, just cannot get along throughout the divorce process. If you and your spouse cannot speak about your divorce without it turning into a screaming match or if your spouse is threatening that he or she will take everything you own, you are likely in a high conflict divorce.
What Is a High Conflict Divorce? In high conflict divorce situations, typically, one spouse, just cannot seem to let go of their attachment to the spouse. When one has such a difficult time adjusting to the divorce, they often create conflict merely to have interaction with the spouse.
In other words, once the relationship deteriorates to such an extent that the marriage fails, the spouse having difficulty adjusting to the separation and divorce creates conflict merely to be able to interact with the soon-to-be former spouse. In such situations, individual and family counseling and legal consultation are an absolute necessity to bring a reasonable resolution for the parties.
If you are divorcing from a spouse who is creating conflict adjusting to the divorce, you need legal advice. If you have any questions, please call our Carmel divorce lawyers. We can help.
More Than Just a Carmel Divorce Lawyer: Helping You With Any Divorce or Family Law Issue
JR & Jill provide guidance to individuals going through both contested and uncontested divorces. The Emersons will negotiate on your behalf, but if the divorce negotiation does not work, they are prepared to be a persuasive advocate for you in court. JR & Jill are ready to handle all matters that may arise during divorce planning and in the course of a divorce, including:
- Division of property, distribution of assets in high-asset divorces
- Division of debts, uncovering of hidden assets and division of retirement assets
- Business valuation and dividing a business during a divorce
- Child custody and other child-related concerns
- Parenting time (access/visitation)
- Spousal maintenance awards
- Child support, including cases with self-employed parents
Emerson Divorce and Accident Injury Attorneys, L.L.C. helps mothers and fathers protect their rights in paternity matters and adoption — including step-parent adoption and termination of parental rights. JR & Jill advise and represent cohabiting, married, and unmarried couples as they craft domestic partnership agreements, negotiate separations and handle child custody or adoption matters.
Within 7-10 business days from the date your paperwork is received we generally prepare your petition for divorce and waiver of service. After receipt of your waiver of service, a draft of your divorce decree will be prepared for your review and we will contact you to schedule a date to finalize your divorce case with the Court.
After your divorce is final, certified copies of your Divorce Decree can be obtained from the clerk's office in the county where your divorce occurred. If you want us to order the certified copies for you, there is an additional charge of $195.00 and only available in Marion, Boone, Hendricks, and Hamilton County.
The steps to divorce in Indiana are simple. In order to file in Indiana, follow these steps:
Step 1: Residency Requirement
The first step to filing divorce in Indiana is to make sure that you meet the residency requirements. This is qualified by the following:
Be a qualified resident of Indiana for the past six (6) months and the county where you file for the past three (3) months; or Be stationed at a United States military installation within Indiana for six (6) months immediately preceding the filing for divorce a resident of the county where you file for the past three (3) months.
Step 2: Filing Petition for Divorce
Next, you’ll need to file the correct documents with the court — the Verified Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, Appearance and Summons. You’ll also need to pay a filing fee to the county clerk.
Step 3: Provisional (Cooling-Off) Period
The provisional period is a 60-day window where the court processes your divorce paperwork. Your divorce cannot be finalized during this period, so some refer to it as the “cool-off” period.
Potential Step 4: Attend Children and Divorce Class (For Parents)
If your marriage has children, either naturally or by adoption, most Indiana counties will have you attend a Children Coping with Divorce class. Upon completion, your instructor will let the court know you’ve fulfilled this requirement.
Step 5: Provisional Hearing
If needed, a judge can put rules in place between you and your soon-to-be-ex regarding your possessions, custody rights, and child support or alimony while the divorce is pending.
Step 6: Reaching an Agreement
During the 60-day period, the involved parties will need to negotiate a settlement if possible. This includes division of property, child custody, and other matters. If you reach a settlement, the details will be handled by your lawyer and a binding “contract” will be set up.
Step 7: Mediation
Many counties and courts require mediation as a means to resolve issues related to custody, parenting time, and child support as well as the division of property. By using a mediator, the hope is that both sides will see the strengths and weaknesses of the other, and divisions can be made accordingly.
Step 8: Writing Up the Settlement
If you’ve reached an agreement — either on your own or through mediation — you can now get the details to your lawyer and have them draft a settlement. This will include all of your marital assets, child custody information, and anything else related to the marriage.
Step 9: Final Hearing (if needed)
If both parties cannot come to an agreement related to custody, parenting time, child support, and the division of assets and liabilities, the next step is to hold a hearing in which a judge resolves these issues. This poses a risk to either side, as the judge’s decision is final and will control who gets what when the dust settles.
Step 10: Coming Back to Court
Divorces are finalized when the court issues a Final Order and Decree. Property divisions are final at this point and cannot be re-litigated.
Child custody and visitation issues have slightly more flexibility, but requires a significant change in circumstances and proof that change is in the child’s best interest.
Matters of child support can also be changed after a 12-month window from the last modification. If the payor is over- or underpaying by more than 20%, then they are entitled to modification.
Indiana law creates a presumption that each party to a marriage is entitled to 50% of the marital property. This presumption of a 50-50 split of marital property can vary to some extent under various circumstances, but in most cases, each party is awarded 50% of the marital property and 50% of the marital debt.
50 / 50 Presumption
Where there is a very short marriage and one party comes to the marriage with significantly more money, there may be some variation of the 50-50 split. Where one party is unable to work due to disability or lack of education or responsibility for caring for a disabled child, the 50-50 presumption is often varied. However, under most circumstances, each party is entitled to 50% of the assets and 50% of the debts.
What Happens to the Marital Residence?
When spouses divorce, the issue that often arises is what is considered marital property and what is considered marital debt. In Indiana, everything the parties own, either together or separately, while married is marital property. Similarly, every debt incurred during the marriage, whether jointly or individually, is marital debt. The exception to this is where the debt is incurred by one party after the degree of dissolution is filed. When this happens, the debt often is considered the debt of only the party who incurred it.
Gifts and Inheritance
Even a gift or an inheritance given to one spouse during the marriage is considered marital property and is subject to division via the presumption of the 50-50 split. If the marriage is short or the gift/inheritance is large, this may create a reason for deviating from the 50-50 split, but, nonetheless, the gift or inheritance is considered marital property.
Retirement benefits, such as a 401(k) or a pension, earned during the marriage is also considered marital property and is subject to division with a presumed 50-50 split, even though the retirement benefits are earned only by one party to the marriage.
If you are considering divorce and have questions regarding how your property will be divided, call our Carmel divorce attorneys.
What Is a QDRO?
Even if only one party earned retirement benefits during a marriage, both spouses are entitled to 50% of those earned benefits. To divide the retirement benefits, which are typically not payable until the age of retirement, the law uses what is called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order ("QDRO").
Once issued by the Court, the QDRO is given to the employer who then releases a portion of the retirement benefits to the former spouse of the employee. The former spouse can then rollover the funds into an IRA or other retirement account and manage the funds themselves.
Can I Get Cash?
The retirement funds can also be cashed out under some circumstances. In fact, when funds are withdrawn and transferred to a former spouse during a divorce pursuant to a QDRO, there may not be a penalty for cashing out the funds, other than income taxes.
What About a Pension in a Divorce?
Additionally, the Indiana Court of Appeals in 2016 in the case of In Re The Marriage of Carr held that pension retirement benefits are a marital asset that must be included in the marital estate and divided. Oftentimes, pensions provide workers with the option to elect to reduce their monthly pension benefit so that these pension benefits can continue to be paid to their spouse after their death. This is known as a pension survivor benefit. The court has held that this pension survivor benefit has a value to the surviving spouse that must be valued and attributed to the surviving spouse when the marital estate is divided at the time of the divorce. This decision by the Indiana court makes it important to take this into consideration when divorcing.
Should I Hire a Lawyer to File for Divorce?
Navigating the court system can be very daunting. You need someone to help you negotiate the best possible outcome for the property, debts, and possibly children that are involved. While you may find forms to file your own divorce, it is best to have a Carmel divorce attorney help you file a divorce. If you attempt your divorce on your own, the court will hold you to the same rules as if you were an attorney.
How Does a Divorce Become Final?
Your divorce will become in one of two ways. You and your spouse will reach an agreement of all terms and submit papers to the court, a Settlement Agreement, that detail all terms of your agreement. The second option is to go before a judge and let the judge decide.
What Decisions Are Made as Part of a Divorce?
Per a Settlement Agreement or a Judge will:
- End your marriage.
- Divide the marital property and debts (usually on a 50-50% basis).
- Issue custody, visitation and child support orders for children of the marriage.
- The wife can get her maiden or former name back as part of the divorce.
- Court Orders for counseling, spousal maintenance, or protective orders can also be issued by the Court.
I Filed My Divorce With the Clerk, What Happens Now?
Once you have filed for divorce, your case is assigned to a court, and copies of your filings are sent to your spouse. If you requested temporary custody, temporary child support, or temporary possession of the marital residence, the court will set the matter(s) for a provisional hearing. At the provisional hearing, you will tell the judge why your request(s) should be granted. If granted, remember that a provisional order will only be in effect until the final hearing.
Will My Spouse Get Everything?
The presumption, the starting point, in Indiana, is that all assets and all debts brought into the marriage will be split evenly on a 50-50 basis. However, this is just the starting point. You may have an argument that you are entitled to more than 50% of the marital assets and/or your spouse should be awarded more than 50% of the debts of the marriage.
If My Spouse Doesn’t Like the Final Court Order or Settlement Agreement Can My Spouse Take Me Back to Court?
Generally, if you reached an agreement outside of court the answer is no. A court order issued following a final hearing may be appealed to the Indiana Court of Appeals, but an appeal would be costly. Issues relating to child custody, visitation, and child support can be brought back to the court under certain circumstances.
What Is a Divorce?
A divorce is the legal dissolution of marriage by a court which cancels the legal duties and responsibilities of the marriage. Quite simply, a divorce separates those legal duties and responsibilities and ends the marital union.
What Is an Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce is the simplest, cheapest, and fastest type of divorce. Basically, in order to get an uncontested divorce you and your spouse need to:
- Agree to divorce and agree to reach an agreement for the division of property and debts,
- If children are involved, agree to custody and a visitation schedule as set out in the Indiana Parenting Guidelines. However, as long as you and your spouse can agree, you can set your own visitation schedule,
- And finally, agree to child support amounts
How Quickly Can I Get Divorced/Remarried?
In Indiana, each divorce must follow a timeline. First I will file your Petition for Divorce with the court. Indiana law requires that we then wait at least 60 days. During this time you and your spouse will work to come to an agreement regarding the division of property, debt, visitation, and child support. After the 60 day waiting period (which may be longer depending upon the court's schedule), we will go to court to present a Final Decree to a Judge.
Can I Change My Name in the Divorce?
Yes. This is extremely common. However, it should be part of the initial Petition for Divorce.
What Is Child Support?
Child Support is money paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent for the maintenance of the child. It is vital to deal with child support any any divorce proceeding involving children.
How Much Child Support Will I Have To Pay?
Generally, you’re required to pay a percentage of your net income and of course depends upon numerous issues. See the Indiana Supreme Court Child Support Calculator for an approximate child support payment.
Do You Make House Calls?
YES. If you are not able to come to my office, or are just more comfortable conducting business at home, I am able to visit you instead. I will bring with me all the equipment necessary to complete your paperwork and file your documents with the court the next business day.
Do You Take Credit Cards?
Yes. We gladly accept Discover, Visa, Mastercard, and American Express.
How Can I Contact You?
If you would like my services, feel free to call (317) 969-8000 anytime. Our phones are answered 24 hours each day. Call to speak with one of our Carmel divorce attorneys today.
When you work with us, you will have our support, advice and guidance throughout the entire divorce process. To help you, here is a list of links to websites where you can find valuable information about the field of family law:
- Your First Time Filing Taxes After Indianapolis Divorce
- Indiana Supreme Court Amends Parenting Time Guidelines
- What Happens to My Pension, IRA, and 401(k) in an Indiana Divorce?
- Making Divorce Easier for Kids
- Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines - a thorough guide for child visitation in Indiana
- Child Support Information - statutory information for a detailed look at child support in Indiana
- Indiana Child Support Calculator - a relatively easy-to-use program that enables you to begin the process of determining a child support obligation
- Indiana Department of Child Services - state of Indiana parent resource
- Indiana State Central Collection Unit - the agency responsible for collecting and distributing child support in Indiana
- Grandparents' Rights in Indiana - Indiana Legal Services, Inc. provides a short overview of the rights the elderly and grandparents in Indiana
- Adoption - legal issues surrounding adoption in Indiana
We’re Here to Help You!
We are available by phone 24/7 to discuss your case, and we make it a priority to answer all of your questions as soon as possible.(317) 969-8000
What Our Clients Say
Very professional and knowledgeable, and fighter when needed.”
- Tyler Height, Emerson Law Client
JR is a problem solver, he works well with people and is very comfortable in court. My ex and I are decent friends and JR made this a very easy thing for us. I hope you the same! Glad I chose JR, couldn't have imagined this going any smoother than this!”
- Amanda, Emerson Law Client