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Indianapolis Family Law Blog

Is divorce bad for my long-term health?

For many people in Indiana who make the choice to leave a marriage, there may be an initial feeling of relief that they no longer have to endure the stress of living in an unhappy relationship. However, that feeling can quickly be overtaken by the stress of managing a divorce. The challenges associated with dividing a marital estate, creating a parenting plan and calendar for sharing time with one's children, and navigating a changing social situation as joint friends try to figure out how to maintain relationship are just some things that make divorce so hard.

MarketWatch recently reported that different studies have shown over the years how divorce may be linked to poor physical health. One study conducted at the University of Arizona found that divorced people are more apt to smoke and less apt to exercise than are their married counterparts. Both smoking and a lack of physical activity have been directly tied to poor physical health. When under great stress, some people turn to smoking as an outlet. They may also feel they do not have the energy necessary to exercise.

Where will you get health insurance after your divorce?

It often is not until after you choose to divorce from your spouse in Indianapolis that you realize how much you actually may have relied on them during your marriage. One area that many often overlook when planning their post-divorce lives is where they will get their health insurance coverage. If you were covered under your ex-spouse’s group health plan during your marriage, how will you be able to handle your medical expenses once your divorce becomes final? 

Not to worry; a federal law exists to help ensure that you remain covered until you are able to secure coverage on your own (or by remarrying and becoming eligible for coverage under your new spouse’s plan). Per the U.S. Department of Labor, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act requires that health insurance plans sponsored by private companies (as well as state and local agencies) that employ more than 20 people allow you to remain covered if you experience an life event that affects your affiliation with the sponsoring institution (the end of a marriage is considered to be such an event). All you have to do to be considered a qualified beneficiary of the plan is to have been eligible for coverage on the day prior to your life event occurring (or in this context, the day before your divorce was finalized). Your ex-spouse cannot drop you from their plan until you are officially divorced. 

Back to school and coparenting

If your kids are like most, they may be sad to know that the summer break from school is ending. However, if you are like most parents in Indiana, you likely realize that your kids are probably ready for a return to some more structured days. There can be advantages to the school year schedule but there can also be some unique challenges to managing this when you and your children's other parent are no longer a couple. 

Lifehacker suggests that divorced or separated coparents can ease the pain of navigating the school experience by jointly meeting with their kids' teachers. If it is possible to do this before the first day of school, that can be a bonus. This meeting can allow you the opportunity to explain your children's living situation so the teachers are aware of who is involved in the kids' lives, who should be picking them up and who to call when a question arises.

How would Indiana SB 106 change current law for grandparents?

Indiana SB 106 was introduced in January 2019 and it is still pending. If approved, the bill would mean some big changes for grandparent and great grandparent visitation rights. Indiana’s current statute allows grandparents to seek visitation in very limited circumstances. Those circumstances include the death of the grandchild’s parent, the grandchild’s parents divorcing, or the grandchild being born out of wedlock. SB 106 would make the following changes to current law for grandparents' rights.  

First, the new bill would extend grandparent visitation to great grandparents. Currently in Indiana, great grandparents do not have standing to seek visitation. An article in The Indiana Lawyer quotes Jan Keefer, an attorney, who points out that great grandparents are sometimes under 70 and still able to care for children. With the new bill, such great grandparents could seek and potentially gain visitation rights if they meet the other elements required.  

Cable boxes and Christmas decor at issue in divorce case

It may be easy for those going into divorce proceedings in Indianapolis to view them as the official end of their association with their soon-to-be ex-spouses (particularly in cases where a couple does not have children together). Yet what they may view as being "the end" might actually signal the beginning of a lengthy dispute over the terms of their divorce settlement. Arguments over assets (often fueled by the emotions that both sides of a divorce feel towards each other) may prompt all parties involved to dig their heels in and brace for what could be a long, drawn out battle. 

The divorce case of former New York mayor (and current legal counsel to the President of the United States) Rudy Giuliani appears that it may be headed in that direction. Giuliani and his ex-wife are current fighting over what is reported to be a $30 million marital estate. His ex-wife claims that he is purposely his legal services to the President for free to lower his income in order to get out of paying his $42,000 monthly alimony obligation. Giuliani lawyer has countered by saying that by saying that his ex-wife simply wants him to work for the rest of his life in order to support her lavish lifestyle. Both have gone so far as to fight over seemingly minor issues (him keeping her collection of Christmas decorations, her taking his cable box and remote controls). 

High poverty rates among divorced persons

When a couple in Indiana makes the painful choice to end their marriage, one of the next things they face is the challenge of splitting up their marital estate. In most situations, both spouses end up losing some of their assets or treasured belongings. At the same time, each person must establish their own solo household. Since living alone costs more than living with someone else, this coupled with the loss of assets can contribute to financial challenges. 

For some people, the financial dip they experience during and after a divorce may be something they can rebound from over time. For others, however, that may not be possible. Yahoo Finance recently reported on the results of some research conducted at Bowling Green State University that shows how serious the financial impact of a divorce can actually be on people over the long haul.

How should you split your 401k?

Property division proceedings in Indianapolis are rarely easy due to the fact that they force you into relinquishing certain assets that you likely value very much. Your 401k is no doubt chief among these. You work hard throughout your professional career to earn funds that you can then rely on to support you during your retirement, and having to split even a portion of those funds with your ex-spouse may seem like a bitter pill to swallow. Even so, as contributions to your 401k during your marriage come from marital income, they must be included in your property division

What, then, is the best way to share these funds with your ex-spouse? According to The 401k Help Center, the two most popular options are to either push to retain the full value of your 401k or roll your ex-spouse's portion over into another retirement account. You can indeed keep the full value of your 401k; you simply would need to give up your stake in a comparable marital asset in return. While this allows you to keep your retirement plans on track, it is not something you should choose to do without first giving the matter a good deal of thought. Asking your ex-spouse to forgo their portion of their 401k means asking them to give up any potential income it might earn if left alone. Thus, the actual current value of their portion of your 401k might be much higher than you realize (and might require you to relinquish your claim to another valuable marital asset). 

Grandparent visitation: Things to keep in mind

As a grandparent, there's nothing more important to you than spending quality time with your grandchildren. But, if your child goes through a divorce, you may find yourself facing a variety of challenges to maintain close ties with the grandkids.

If both your child and their ex are on board with the idea of you spending time with your grandchildren, you shouldn't run into too many issues. As long as you're respectful of everyone's time, you can typically work out a schedule.

Dealing with pet custody

As a couple prepares to divorce in Indianapolis, both sides no doubt are prepared to go to battle over certain issues. Were most to guess what these issues are, custody of the family pet would likely not be among them. Yet information compiled by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers shows that as of 2017, family law attorneys saw a 30 percent increase in the amount of pet custody disputes observed. One the one hand, some might wonder why a couple would allow an argument over who gets the family pet to hold up their divorce. On the other, many recognize that pets often become part of the family, so debating over who keeps them in a divorce is understandable. 

According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, pets are considered by the law to be personal property. Thus, they are not subject to custodial agreements or mandatory financial support to cover expenses such as boarding or vaccinations. If a pet belonged to one party before a couple was married, the same pet would be among their separate property in a divorce (in other words, the other spouse would have no claim of ownership). 

What are your rights when it comes to parenting time?

As a divorced parent in Indianapolis, you no doubt value your parenting time. Not being under the same roof with your kids every day makes it more difficult to impart the life lessons that you want to on them. The courts understand this, and thus place equal value on the time you have with your kids. Sadly, tensions between you and your ex-spouse may make it so that they do not care quite as much whether you get to be with your kids. This makes it that much more important that you understand how to deal with changes to your parenting time schedule. 

First and foremost, the website for the State of Indiana shows that there are valid and non-valid reasons why they may not respect your parenting time schedule. Non-valid reasons include: 

  • You being behind in your child or spousal support
  • You not meeting conditions that your ex-spouse is trying to impose upon you
  • Your kids not having anything to wear to their visit to your house
  • Your ex-spouse simply not wanting the kids to leave at the scheduled time

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  • My husband and I have a 12 year old grandson whose academics and social needs were being neglected. We turned to Schembs Law & Associates to help preserve our grandsons rights. With Schembs & Associates leadership and guidance… Grandparent Rights
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