Yes. The date that you file your Indiana divorce does matter. In fact, it’s likely the most important date in your divorce case. The reason is that in Indiana there is a presumption of an equal split of assets and liabilities and the assets and liabilities are measured on the date of the filing of the divorce petition.
Of course, whether it makes sense to file quickly depends on the particular situation. For example, if Mrs. Smith is considering filing for divorce from Mr. Smith, but Mr. Smith is going to get a bonus at work next week in the amount of $25,000.00, Mrs. Smith might want to consider waiting until next week. The same would be true if Mr. Smith’s employer had provided him with stock as part of his compensation package and the stock was going to vest in just a few days. In this example, if Mrs. Smith waits and files for divorce after the bonus and/or stock is received the marital estate, which is the assets of the couple on the date of filing, will be larger. Since Mrs. Smith is presumed to be entitled to have of the martial estate, it may behoove her to wait until the martial estate is larger to file the divorce petition.
In addition to assets of the marital estate being presumed to be split equally, debts are split in a very similar manner. The debts of the parties (regardless of whose name is on the debt) is presumed to be a debt of the couple and one party or the other must be responsible for each debt post-divorce. As a result, if Mrs. Smith knows that Mr. Smith intends to purchase a house next week and she also knows that she is no longer happy in the marriage and wishes to be divorced, her counsel would likely advise her to file her petition for divorce prior to the husband’s closing. A debt that a spouse incurs (unless it is a joint debt that both parties agree to take) post-divorce filing is presumed to be the sole debt of the spouse who took the debt. If Mrs. Smith files for divorce prior to Mr. Smith’s home loan closing then there will be fewer liabilities that need to be divided and that would be beneficial to Mrs. Smith.
Typically, Indiana divorce attorneys prepare a spreadsheet of the parties assets and liabilities after the completion of discover (which is an exchange of information regarding each party’s finances). The assets will often include bank accounts, retirement accounts, home(s), vehicles, boats, rental properties, etc. All of these amounts will be listed in the amount or value that they were on the date of filing. Liabilities will be listed as well and often include any mortgage loan(s), car loans, credit card debt, student loans, personal loans to family members, etc.
While there is a presumption that the martial estate in Indiana is to be divided equally, that does not mean that the Court will not deviate from equal 50/50 distribution of assets. The parties may introduce evidence to the Court that would compel the Court to award a higher percentage of marital assets to one party. However, when that does happen the split is typically not more one-sided than 60/40. In addition, it is important to remember that Indiana is a “no-fault” divorce state and simply because your spouse cheated, got into criminal trouble, is an unreliable parent., etc., these things are unlikely to convince a judge that you should be awarded more of the marital estate.
Parties in a divorce case should carefully review a property settlement agreement prepared by their divorce attorney prior to executing the document. A divorce settlement agreement is typically many pages and there is no second chance to redo your property settlement in a divorce case. Once you have agreed with your spouse and the judge has signed the agreement there is nothing further that can be done to go back and modify your agreement. In the event that you and your spouse are unable to agree on the division of marital property, a hearing will be held and the Court will have to come to a determination. Once the Court makes a ruling, it may be appealed within thirty (30) days.
If you live in the Indianapolis or surrounding areas and need an attorney to represent you in divorce proceedings Halcomb Singler would like to help. Our office is conveniently located on Main Street in Carmel with a dedicated parking lot and a staff ready to assist you through the process. Halcomb Singler has been there before and we will do our best to provide zealous representation at a reasonable price. Call our office for your appointment at (317) 575-8222 or click here.