Alimony and Maintenance: This Is Not LA

In high-conflict divorce cases, personal vendettas between the litigants (and what they do, or try to do, to each other to inflict endless pain) and custody battles often take center stage. Almost everyone knows a “disaster” divorce story. Sensational story lines from celebrity divorces, often from LA, report astronomical alimony awards. This is not the reality for Indiana. Indiana is a conservative legal state and does not provide for “alimony” under the Divorce Act. However, Indiana law does provide relief for lopsided financial situations between parties in divorce. This blog explores temporary and “permanent” maintenance; this is Indiana’s “alimony.” These tools allow Indiana Courts to provide financial fairness in all stages of the divorce process.

The most direct way a trial court judge can help a spouse in a weak financial position at the time the divorce is filed is by making an award of temporary maintenance. Temporary maintenance tries to maintain the status quo that existed before the filing of the divorce during the pendency of the divorce action. Upon the filing of request by divorce counsel for a party for a provisional hearing and orders, the court can make temporary orders for maintenance, support and/or child custody, possession of property (such as possession of the marital residence), counseling, and or a protective order under the Indiana Civil Protection Order Act. This is determined by the court through a provisional hearing.

Most of the time, a motion for provisional order requires the moving party (the party seeking temporary orders) to file with the motion a verified affidavit setting forth the relevant facts as to why temporary orders are necessary and the amounts of money and other relief requested by and through provisional orders. Given the time some divorces pend (i.e., years), the statutes providing for provisional relief allow a modification of any temporary order during the case is pending in the court, if necessary.

It takes a skilled attorney to navigate the complex and technical statutory requirements for provisional orders to obtain temporary maintenance. Again, provisional orders can protect the spouse in the weaker financial situation and address the needs of the children. For instance, with a stay-at-home mom, a provisional order could provide sole possession of the martial residence, custody of the children, child support and payment of household bills until the parties reach a final settlement or the court decides the case after a final evidentiary hearing. In addition, if domestic or family violence has occurred, the court can also provide a protective order to restrain the perpetrator from certain behavior during the pendency.

All provisional orders terminate when the final divorce decree or final order is entered or the action is dismissed. However, if the evidence presented at the final hearing supports it, the trial court can order two other types of maintenance: rehabilitation and disability maintenance. Rehabilitation maintenance may be ordered if the court finds sufficient evidence for same. Rehabilitation maintenance is to provide for all or part of the expense necessary for the spouse to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment. This maintenance may be ordered for a time the court finds appropriate, but not to exceed three years.

Where there is a spouse of the marriage with a requisite disability, the court, upon receipt of this evidence, may award disability maintenance. What is this evidence? The court must find the spouse to be mentally or physically incapacitated to the extent that the ability of the spouse to support himself or herself is materially affected. If this showing is met, the court may order maintenance for the disability spouse for the period of this incapacity exists, subject to further order of the court. What this means is the court can terminate this disability maintenance if the disability ends. Equally, the court can increase or decrease the maintenance for any material reason the evidence supports, such as inflation or an increase in the severity of the disabled spouse’s disability.

Indiana does not provide alimony. However, where there is financial disparity, the divorce court may order temporary maintenance during the pendency of the divorce. Further, if a spouse is physically or mentally disabled, the court may order disability maintenance at the time it enters its final order in divorce. Developing and presenting the necessary evidence to obtain a maintenance award is technical. However, the attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, Inc. navigate these legal waters with frequency. We know how to litigate maintenance cases. Perhaps we would be a good fit to represent your divorce case. This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. It is not intended as legal advice or a solicitation for services.


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