Family Law FAQ
1. Do we need an attorney to do any of this?
We recommend you at least consult with an attorney, especially if your situation involves custody, child support, parenting time, and/or the division of assets/debts. However, there is no specific requirement that you or your spouse use the services of an attorney when dealing with family law matters.
2. Can both parties use the same attorney?
It is not possible for one attorney to represent both parties to a family law matter. Ethically and in accordance with the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct, a lawyer can have only one client in a given legal matter. Although it is possible that only one attorney be involved in family law proceedings, that attorney ethically can only represent one party to such matters.
3. What if the other parent stops paying child support?
If the other parent stops paying child support, the first thing you should do is call them and find out if there is a legitimate reason for their non-payment. If they are not cooperative, then contact your attorney and/or the Prosecutor’s Office – Child Support Division to enforce an existing child support order. Your children are entitled to this money – enforce their rights.
4. What if the other parent won’t let me see our child(ren)?
If you are a non-custodial parent and you believe the custodial parent is unreasonably interfering with your parenting time, you should immediately contact your attorney and seek enforcement of your parental rights through the filing of a contempt citation and/or restraining order. The only reason to withhold parenting time is if it would endanger the physical/mental health of a child, and even then a custodial parent should not withhold parenting time absent a specific Court Order.
5. What if I want to move from my current residence?
The current law in the State of Indiana obligates a parent to send written notice to the other parent whenever they intend to relocate their residence. Any such notice should be filed with Court at least 90 days before the intended relocation. This notice must be given whether you are moving 1 mile or 1,000 miles from your current residence.
6. What is joint legal custody?
Joint legal custody means that both parents have equal rights and responsibilities in regard to major decisions determining the child’s upbringing, including education, healthcare, religious training, after-school activities, and other important issues that arise as a child matures. This is different than physical custody, which covers the actual sharing of time with a child.
7. How long will the divorce take?
It is difficult to predict how long it will take for each divorce case to be finally resolved, and some issues are on-going such as child support, custody, and parenting time. Here are some factors that could affect the amount of time necessary to resolve the initial divorce proceeding:
- The number and complexity of contested issues;
- The vehemence of the parties’ feelings and their inclination to settle;
- The court’s calendar (although shorter hearings can generally be scheduled more quickly, in some areas of the country the next available date for a full trial could be many months away);
- The other lawyer. An inattentive or uncompromising opposing counsel can prolong your divorce.
By far, the most significant factor in the time it takes for resolution is the intensity of the parties’ feelings and the degree to which the parties want to fight.
8. How much will my divorce cost?
It is difficult to estimate the total cost of your divorce, even when your lawyer knows the contested issues and the strength of the parties’ feelings. If you and your spouse do not trust each other, want complete discovery of all assets and liabilities, and argue many issues to the bitter end, the process could be long, drawn out, and expensive.
Be aware that you will pay for your divorce in three ways - with your time, emotions, and money.
9. How can I keep the cost down?
Preparing and trying a lawsuit is very expensive. Scrutinize the issues at an early stage and determine which ones can be settled. Do not make unreasonable or unnecessary concessions, but look carefully at the issues that separate you and your spouse. You have some control and you can make concessions that will resolve your case more quickly and thus reduce your costs.
10. Why should I listen to my spouse’s suggestions?
Unfortunately, clients commonly believe that an opponent’s suggestions should be routinely rejected because they are bad ideas or they reflect an ulterior motive. Some clients automatically want to do the opposite of whatever is requested.
Let your lawyer guide your response to the other side’s request. A request, suggestion, or offer from the other side is not bad per se. Even if it is not entirely acceptable, it may provide valuable information as to the opponent’s priorities or outlook.