As part of your divorce settlement, you will need to divide the marital estate. This not only includes assets, bank accounts, and money, but it also includes any debts that were incurred during the marriage. The marital estate includes any property owned by both spouses jointly. This includes real estate, cars, valuable assets, retirement accounts, debts, pensions, and more. While other states only consider the marital estate to be composed of property acquired during the marriage, Indiana works differently. All assets owned by the spouses are considered marital property and subject to the rules of equitable distribution according to Indiana law. In this article, the Indiana divorce lawyer, Chris Arrington, will discuss property distribution, equitable distribution, and the marital estate as it pertains to the division of assets and liabilities in an Indiana divorce.
Equitable Distribution Laws in Indiana
Some states are equitable distribution states, while other states are community property states. In a community property state, assets and debts are divided 50/50. In an equitable distribution state like Indiana, assets are divided in accord with what is equitable to both parties subject to the divorce. Indiana’s rules, however, differ from other equitable distribution states and operate more like community property states.
Under Indiana law, there is a presumption that an even split of marital assets and liabilities is the most equitable solution for both parties. To challenge this presumption, an Indiana spouse must establish evidence that shows the court why an equal split is not fair under their individual circumstances. There are numerous reasons why a judge may consider dividing the marital estate unequally. These include:
- Either spouse’s conduct during the marriage
- Any misconduct related to asset dissipation (including gambling arrearages or spending money from a shared bank account so that the other spouse doesn’t get it in the divorce)
- Contributions to purchasing or maintaining property
- Either spouse’s income, earnings, or earning potential
- Economic circumstances both during and after the divorce
A spouse who is attempting to advocate for the unequal distribution of assets must provide the court with reasons why dividing assets unequally is fair, given the circumstances. Cheating or adultery is not a good enough reason for the courts to divide assets unequally. However, a spouse who dissipated marital assets by spending money on a paramour may be a good reason to tip the scales in favor of the other spouse.
Marital and Separate Property in Indiana
Indiana defines marital property differently than other states. While other states assume that marital property is any property that was acquired during the marriage, under Indiana law, all assets that a couple has are considered marital property regardless of when the property was acquired. A spouse must prove that their property is separate property to prevent it from becoming part of the marital estate. To prove separate property, the spouse must show that the property is not connected to the marriage and that the property did not benefit from the marriage.
Talk to an Indiana Divorce Lawyer Today
Chris Arrington represents the interests of Indiana couples who are pursuing a divorce. Call our office today to schedule an appointment, and we’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.