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Indianapolis Family Law Blog

Unmarried fathers can play a major role in the life of their kid

Custody isn't just an issue for married parents going through a divorce. It can also be a significant issue in cases where the parents of a child never married. Some men mistakenly think that if they didn't marry the mother of their child that they don't have the right to seek custody or visitation. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The state of Indiana recognizes the critical role that a father can play in the life of his child. Regardless of the circumstances between you and the mother of the child, you could be a positive role model and help provide support and happiness.

The main reasons women file for divorce

Popular culture often portrays women as the victims of divorce, left by their philandering husbands after decades of faithful partnership. The truth, it turns out, is a much different picture. In the vast majority of cases, it is the wife who initiates a divorce. Most women in Indiana and across the country file for divorce for reasons that fit into these broad categories.

The first reason many women file for divorce is that they feel their marriage is holding them back. Most women are in the workforce and are contributing to their families financially. They may have found success in their careers and yet feel that they have to downplay it to uphold their husbands' egos. On top of contributing financially, studies show that women continue to handle most of the household chores.

Prenuptial agreements and when to insist on having one

A common source for squabbles and outright disputes in Indiana family law centers around the prospect of prenuptial agreements. The person asked to sign such an agreement is often offended at the implication that the marriage will not work out or that he or she is looking to receive the other person's assets. From the perspective of the spouse who wants the document, it is designed to protect them in case the marriage fails.

Signing or not can be negotiable, but there are times when a person should insist on the prenuptial agreement. If it is a second marriage and there will be a blended family, a prenuptial agreement is a good idea. A person's assets, retirement accounts and more can be complicated. Disagreements between the former spouse and the new spouse can erupt. To avoid this, a prenuptial agreement can address concerns before they arise.

Some of the best strategies successful co-parents have used

One challenge that co-parents in Indiana experience is having difficulty communicating with each other. It can be tempting to use children as messengers. However, successfully co-parenting involves communicating directly as adults in a respectful manner. This ensures that messages are relayed correctly and that the children never feel hurt by a negative reaction to a message that was relayed.

Another strategy that successful co-parents use is to help each other share important moments in the lives of the children. After a divorce, a parent will likely miss out on some of those big moments. If both co-parents can agree to take pictures of these moments and share them with each other, it can help them as they deal with the negative emotions related to their new circumstances.

Divorce survey reports regrets over lack of financial knowledge

Indiana couples who are planning on getting married might want to consider getting a prenuptial agreement. A prenup can help protect people financially in case of divorce, and in the course of creating one, couples must communicate about money. It is important for both people in a marriage to be knowledgeable about their financial situation. According to a survey by Fidelity Investments, people who took the longest time to recover financially from a divorce were those who were not involved in the family finances.

While a prenup can offer strong protection, it is not a guarantee, particularly since many people will acquire more assets after the marriage that they might want to keep separate. Examples might include money from a business sale or an inheritance. If these are mingled with the marital finances, they could be considered joint property. A post-nuptial agreement could specify what will happen to property acquired after the marriage.

Understanding the risks of an informal parenting agreement 

When two unmarried parents choose to part ways, it is tempting to make an informal parenting agreement instead of going through a court to create an official custody agreement and parenting plan. Most parents who pursue this path part ways on relatively good terms and want the best for their child. Others may simply want to avoid legal costs and believe that an informal agreement works for them at the time, or some combination of the two.

It is certainly possible for loving, thoughtful parents to part ways amicably, and working collaboratively can yield great outcomes for parents and children alike. However, it is important to understand that the law takes parents' duties and rights seriously, and it is always wise to use the strength of the law to protect one's own rights.

Mistakes to avoid when raising teenagers

Raising a teenager after a divorce can be challenging for parents in Indiana and throughout the country. However, there are strategies that divorced parents may use to make their jobs easier. For instance, parents should communicate with each other about what their sons or daughters are doing. While teenagers may be more mature and open about their needs, this isn't always true. Therefore, good communication can make it easier to spot and work on problems a teen may be having.

Parents should refrain from using their teenagers as messengers. This makes it harder to communicate effectively, and it can also give a teen a sense of power that he or she may not be entitled to. As a child gets older, he or she might start working or start to prioritize spending time with friends. It is important that a parenting plan take these and other issues into account.

How to use a calendar in a divorce case

Indiana parents who are going through a divorce may want to consider using a calendar from the past year to help them reconstruct child-related expenses as well as what the child's schedule was like and how much time they each spent with the child. This can be valuable information, particularly since it can be difficult to remember these details during the stress of a divorce. A calendar can also be useful in determining lifestyle during the marriage, which is helpful for spousal support purposes.

Details that parents may forget that can be gleaned from a review of the calendar can include doctor and therapist appointments for children and out-of-town trips for sporting events. Another frequently forgotten expense is the gifts children bring to the birthday parties they attend. If parents have a dispute about an activity or an expense, the calendar may be sufficient to settle it.

Holiday season known for leading to surge in divorce filings

The end-of-year holiday season offers many families in Indiana an opportunity to spend quality time together. For people in troubled marriages, however, the holiday season often represents a final period of family togetherness before people announce that they are filing for divorce in January. Family law attorneys generally agree that they experience a surge in new clients and divorce filings in the first weeks of the New Year.

Academic research validates the anecdotal experiences within the legal community. A university study in 2016 analyzed divorces filings from 2001 to 2015 and consistently measured an increase in divorce cases in January compared to December. Search trends at Google also show that internet searches related to divorce reach their highest levels in the second week of January. From December to January, searches by Pinterest users for subjects like "divorce party" go up by approximately 21%.

Grandparents have limited legal rights to their grandchildren

The grandparents usually get to have all the fun with the kids and the parents call the shots. For the most part, this arrangement works out just fine. However, when parents make questionable decisions and the grandparents want to intervene or when the two parties become estranged, grandparents in Indiana may wonder if they have any legal rights.

Most grandparents feel surprised and disappointed when they find out that their rights are usually very limited. Parents are the ones who have the right to make decisions about their children.

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