Indiana Divorce Attorney: Serving St. John, Merrillville, Crown Point, and Schererville

Making the decision to contact a divorce attorney is stressful. At Stephens Law Firm, P.C., in Lake County, Indiana, I am committed to working closely with my clients to understand their unique circumstances and help them make decisions that will protect their rights and long-term interests.

Compassionate Indiana Divorce Lawyer

The decision to meet with an attorney to discuss a divorce is a big first step. From the time you schedule your first meeting I will focus on the issues that you bring to the table. I am committed to serving as a counselor, and a consultant in an effort to provide legal advice tailored to your specific needs.

Before we meet, it may be helpful to review the following issues that are involved in many divorces:

Timing Questions

Once your attorney files the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, the Court will assign the first of the two minimum Court hearings. This first hearing is called a Provisional Hearing. Attorneys and Courts usually refer to this hearing as the "status quo" hearing. This hearing should be scheduled within 21 days from filing. The Court will enter an Order of child support, custody and parenting time - if there are children of the marriage - and an Order stating which spouse will have temporary possession of the marital residence, vehicles, the payment of marital bills, etc. This Order will stay in effect until the final Order, Decree, or a modification is entered by the Court. Sixty days must pass before a final hearing may take place for the Court to enter a final decree with respect to child support, child custody, child visitation, asset distribution, debt division, spousal maintenance, etc. Once a final decree has been approved by the Court, subsequent enforceable modifications may only take place through the Court. Thus, if there is a substantial change in circumstances affecting your situation, it must be brought before the Court. Of course, should you and your spouse decide to handle this amicably, neither hearing is mandatory in many Courts and your Agreement can be filed by mail.

The person filing the Petition must have lived in the state of Indiana for at least 6 months and the particular county where they wish to file the Petition for at least 3 months before they can file the Petition with the Clerk of the Court.

The Lake Superior & Circuit Courts require all parties with children to attend a parenting class and to file a Certificate of Completion with the Clerk of the Court before attending the Final Hearing. Your attorney can provide the schedule of classes, cost information and registration information to you.

Questions about Your Children

Physical Custody: Mom and Dad can share physical custody of the children or the children may reside with only one of the parents. If Mom and Dad cannot agree to a custody arrangement and seek Court assistance, other parties may also become involved, such as a Guardian Ad Litem and a Custodial Evaluator.

Legal Custody: Mom and Dad can also share legal custody which would allow them to make decisions together regarding education, religion and health care. Even when a parent does not have physical or legal custody of their child, the parent is still entitled to have access to their child's school and medical records.

Visitation: The state of Indiana has adopted the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines which the Juvenile and Family Courts of Lake and Porter counties frequently adopt. Moms and Dads are allowed to request additional parenting time from the Court and are also encouraged to enter into their own Agreement.

Child Support: The parent that does not have physical custody of their child is usually ordered to pay child support to the parent that does have physical custody. Child support is based upon each parent's gross income, whether a parent pays health insurance, day care expenses, child support for children from another marriage, and whether either parent has subsequent children. The Court also bases child support upon how often the non-custodial parent regularly visits with their child overnight during the visit.

Although child support is usually ordered on a weekly basis, it will more than likely be paid in accordance with the obligor's pay schedule. This is the effect of an Income Withholding Order.

Child support terminates at the age of 19. Yet, there are exceptions: if the Court finds that the child is incapacitated, child support can be extended past his or her 19th birthday; if the Court finds that the child has turned eighteen years of age, joined the military, married or graduated high school with no plans of attending college with the ability of supporting themselves, child support can be terminated upon the Court's finding of emancipation before the child's 19th birthday.

Modification: Custody, visitation and child support can be modified by agreement or by Court order when there is a substantial change of circumstances, pursuant to statute or for other reasons that your attorney may explain after consultation.

Contact An Indiana Divorce Attorney

If you are involved in a divorce, considering divorce, or are dealing with the ramifications of the dissolution of a marriage, contact Stephens Law Firm, P.C.. Julie can be reached by phone at 219-682-0003, or by filling out the intake form on our Contact Us page.