If you are considering a divorce, rest assured, you are not alone. If you are having trouble making the decision, rest assured, you are not alone. The decision to separate and divorce should is not one to make hastily. It demands careful consideration to make sure the decision is the right one. Even when the divorce is forced upon you, you must take the appropriate time to consider your future.
Here are seven things to consider:
P is for Parenting
Parents are always concerned about the effect of divorce on the children. Each family is different. Mostly, parents are the best resources for determining what’s best for the kids—even when adjusting to separation and divorce. When making custody and parenting time decisions, the Court will consider such things as
the age and sex of the children
their adjustment to the home and community
the wishes of the parents
the wishes of the children (with more weight given to children 14 years or older)
relationships with extended family members
the parent-child relationship
history of domestic violence
any “de facto” guardians
A is for Action
The divorce starts with the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. There is a filing fee, and Indiana divorce law requires a minimum waiting period of 60 days. If you and your spouse can resolve all issues via negotiation and/or mediation, it’s possible to finish in 60 days. Divorces that require a judge to make decisions take much longer. The provisional/preliminary phase is the time between the filing of the dissolution and the final Decree. This is the time when you need to address big questions and resolve them by agreement or court order.
Who will live where?
Who will pay what bills?
How will the household be supported to maintain stability for the children?
R is for Relationships with Professionals
The right team around you makes all the difference. Chose professionals you are comfortable with. You must have attorneys, therapists, counselors, and financial advisors that you are comfortable with. Pick people that have excellent reputations, but also make sure you can communicate and connect with your team. Choose people who are willing to listen to you and consider your concerns carefully.
T is for Timing
On one hand, timing is everything, Is this the right time? This is a question that is asked of me again and again. Timing may be a matter of personal circumstances—like holidays and anniversaries or children’s upcoming events. It can also be a matter of financial circumstances—like income changes, asset appreciation or depreciation, or changes in employment.
On the other hand, you may not have the luxury of choosing the right time. You may be in a situation where your spouse has filed. Perhaps he or she has committed an act that requires an immediate divorce. You can still successfully negotiate the process. You must have a lawyer who can help to guide you through the emotional adjustment process as well as the “business” of asset and debt division.
I is for Income
Indiana follows an “income shares model” in the calculation of child support. Gross income, including regular income, bonuses, commissions, car allowances, housing allowances, and perhaps even regular gifts are a part of gross income for child support purposes. If a party is unemployed or underemployed, his or her potential income can be considered. The Court will consider educational and employment background, availability of jobs, and potential income levels in determining the income imputed to an underemployed.
N is for Next Steps after filing the Petition for Dissolution
Be prepared. Consider potential living arrangements and potential employment or employment changes. Gather financial documents, records, and tax returns for the previous two (2) years. Carefully review files and information to make sure you have accounted for all retirement accounts and life insurance policies. Finally, inventory assets with value such as paintings, coin collections, and jewelry.
G is for Growth
You may not see it, but at the end of the dissolution process is the potential for personal and professional growth. In addition to your improvement, you will be amazed at your ability to achieve balanced and successful parenting. Believe in yourself! Believe that you will be better! Do not be content to accept your lot in life! Instead, be ready to take steps into a new future.