While there is no law requiring a party in a divorce to hire an attorney, it may not be the wisest of decisions to proceed without one. Although most court clerks now make available divorce forms with instructions for completing and filing them, this is only the first step in a divorce, and parts of the process can be quite a bit more difficult. Not only will a lawyer prepare and file the proper paperwork, but they can guide you through the process so that your testimonial, documentary, and other evidence is admitted and heard and you are fully aware of the legal consequences of decisions you might make during the divorce or when attempting to reach a settlement agreement to finalize the divorce. This blog explores how understanding the role of a divorce attorney in Indianapolis can be vital to the resolution and outcome of your case.
If you have already hired or decided to hire an attorney, it is very important that you listen to what they tell you about whether or not a particular person should testify, the admissibility of evidence, what documents or information they might need from you, any deadlines that must be met, or how to deal with specific issues during the divorce. This is why you pay an attorney: for legal advice and direction that will result in the best outcome for you. Disregarding such guidance not only makes your lawyer’s representation more difficult, and therefore more expensive, but goes against the logic and effect of even having an attorney. You probably would not take your car to a mechanic, then insist that they replace the transmission after being told the problem is simply the gear selector linkage, and could be repaired at one-quarter the cost and in one day as opposed to one week. Not following the advice of any professional that you hire and allowing them to do what they are trained to do without interference can only result in more time consuming and expensive services, some of which may be completely unnecessary.
Collecting and copying what may seem like endless lists of documents for your attorney, and always by a specific date not too far in the future, may be a tedious task, but it is one that must be done in order for your attorney to provide you with the best possible representation and outcome in your divorce. When property division is an issue, you might be asked by your attorney to hire an appraiser to appraise real or personal property or an accountant or forensic accountant to look over your previous income tax returns, locate and valuate marital assets, or determine the sources of marital income and on what it was spent. All of this may seem excessive just to get divorced, however, a judge is unfamiliar with a couple’s incomes, spending habits, education and job training, division of labor agreements, or assignment of responsibility for household chores and finances unless and until the parties present evidence on such matters. These factors can be, and most are required to be, considered by the court when making a property distribution in a divorce (I.C. 31-17-2-8). Many will also be considered if a spouse is asking for rehabilitative maintenance (I.C. 31-15-7-2(3)).
Discussions with your attorney regarding the admissibility of evidence or which of your witnesses should or should not testify are of particular importance, but the advice offered may be difficult to accept and/or follow. The Indiana Rules of Evidence govern who can testify, about what they may testify and what tangible evidence can be admitted to and considered by the court (Indiana Rules of Court – Rules of Evidence). The first rule concerning evidence is that it must be relevant. Evidence Rule 401 provides that evidence is relevant if it tends to make some thing
more or less probable and concerns a fact that is essential to making an ultimate determination in a case (Ind. Evid. R. 401). For example, testimony, photographs, or videos concerning your spouse’s infidelity during the marriage are significant only when considering property division and then, only if the evidenced presented also shows that the spouse dissipated marital assets to have an affair (I.C. 31-15-7-5). Such as spending marital funds to provide support to the girlfriend or boyfriend, purchasing them gifts, or renting hotel rooms where they could have the affair. Relevant evidence may still be excluded if it confuses the issues, causes undue delay, or needlessly presents cumulative evidence, or evidence that has already been heard by or admitted to the court (Ind. Evid. R. 401).
Finally, the role of a divorce attorney in Indianapolis includes advising clients on the legal consequences of their actions both during the divorce and when considering any settlement agreement in order to finalize the divorce. Common issues that may arise during a divorce include social media use by one or both spouses, communication between parents regarding the upbringing of the child, parenting time and custody disputes, and the failure to obey the courts temporary orders for child support or spousal maintenance. The way you behave in these instances and how you resolve or attempt to resolve the issue can be critical in the court’s final determination of some very important matters and your attorney will know what you do in each situation. They will also be able to advise you on any unforeseen consequences of a settlement agreement and help negotiate one which protects your rights more effectively.
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.