The short answer is maybe. While Indiana does not have alimony, it does have spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance is not awarded as part of a property division, as alimony in some states is, it is awarded under specific circumstances in order to provide for the support of the spouse receiving it. This blog discusses alimony in Indiana, and when a court may order it to be paid.
Spousal maintenance may be ordered in both divorces and legal separations. A court may determine that maintenance is necessary if it finds that a spouse’s physical or mental incapacity affects his or her ability to support themselves (incapacity maintenance) OR they lack sufficient property to support themselves AND they have custody of a child whose incapacity requires that they forego employment (caregiver maintenance). In the case of a spouse’s incapacity, the court may order that maintenance be paid during the period of incapacity. When a spouse is caring for an incapacitated child, the court may order maintenance for a period of time that it deems appropriate. If you or your child are not incapacitated in any way, you may ask for rehabilitative maintenance, which the court may order in an amount it deems appropriate for not more than three years.
When making a determination regarding rehabilitative maintenance, the court will consider “(A) the educational level of each spouse at the time of marriage and at the time the action is commenced; (B) whether an interruption in the education, training, or employment of a spouse who is seeking maintenance occurred during the marriage as a result of homemaking or child care responsibilities, or both; (C) the earning capacity of each spouse, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, and length of presence in or absence from the job market; and (D) the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse who is seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment.”
The Lesley Court reiterated that a spouse requesting maintenance in Indiana has the burden of proving they are entitled to it. Even if a court then finds that the spouse is incapacitated, caring for an incapacitated child, or has less education and a lower earning capacity than his or her husband or wife due to homemaking or childcare responsibilities, it is not required to order spousal maintenance. Parties are free, however, to agree to the payment of spousal maintenance with, or without, providing a reason for the maintenance. A party agreeing to pay maintenance under circumstances wherein the court could not have ordered it should proceed with great caution, as the Indiana Supreme Court ruled in Voigt that when the court had no authority to order the maintenance award stipulated to by the parties in a settlement agreement, it had none to later modify the obligation.
A court may modify a maintenance award that it could have, or did, order, based on a substantial change in circumstances. Unlike child support, however, there is no mathematical equation to determine the amount of spousal maintenance. The courts have almost complete discretion in deciding the amount of maintenance to be awarded when making both an original determination and when modifying an obligation. The Indiana Court of Appeals, however, did place a limitation on the amount of spousal maintenance a court may award in the Pham case. The court here looked at the Indiana Child Support Guidelines. Because Guideline 2 provides that a temporary maintenance obligation should not exceed 35% of the payor’s weekly adjusted income, nor should temporary maintenance combined with child support exceed 50% of the weekly adjusted income, the court found that it was inappropriate for maintenance, when there were no children, to exceed 50% of the obligor’s weekly adjusted income.
Spousal maintenance can be a complex issue and an experienced family law attorney can help you protect your rights when formulating a settlement agreement or presenting the appropriate evidence to the court. This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. It is for general educational purposes. The blog is not intended to be relied upon for any legal matter or issue. The blog is not legal advice. This is an advertisement.