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How do the Indiana courts divide assets in a litigated divorce?

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2024 | Divorce

Most people don’t get married with the expectation of divorcing, so those who find themselves in struggling marriages often don’t know what to expect. People have often heard myths and exaggerated stories about what divorce entails.

The average person (understandably) has very little knowledge about the actual family law statutes on the books in Indiana. The idea of divorce can then seem very intimidating. People may worry about what property they might lose and how long it may take to rebuild their lives after a divorce.

What rules guide family law judges when they must divide marital property during a litigated Indiana divorce?

Indiana has an equitable distribution law

Contrary to what some people claim, property division during a divorce is not a 50/50 split of all assets and financial obligations. Instead, spouses have to identify their marital property and the separate property of each spouse. The spouses also need to include debts as part of the marital estate.

Who actually owns an asset or holds an account isn’t the main consideration. The timing of acquisition and the nature of the resources used are most important. Assets acquired during the marriage or with marital income are often subject to division. Assets owned before marriage or inherited from others may be separate property that belongs to one spouse.

A judge looks over those disclosures and then determines what they believe might be a fair or equitable way to divide that property. Equitable division requires searching for a fair solution given the circumstances of the marriage and the resources of the spouses. A judge can award each spouse certain assets or make them responsible for certain debts. They have a lot of discretion when making decisions about what might be fair for the family.

Each spouse’s earning potential, the couple’s custody arrangements and even unpaid contributions to the marital estate can influence what a judge decides may be equitable when splitting up financial responsibility for marital debts and dividing marital property.

People who learn about Indiana’s unique laws can use that information as they begin developing a strategy for their upcoming divorce proceedings. Setting achievable goals for property division is an important step for those preparing for an Indiana divorce.