Recently in Divorce Category

What Really Causes Divorce?

March 20, 2015

Sweatpants (2).jpgThere is a lot of media attention around Eva Mendes right now for her comments in an interview with Extra regarding sweatpants and their toxicity to marriages:

"No, no, no, no! You can't do sweatpants. No," she said. "Ladies, No. 1 cause of divorce in America? Sweatpants. No. Can't do that."

While many were quick to dismiss these comments, it does draw attention to the real causes of divorce. Just under fifty percent of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. So what really causes divorce in the United States and why?

According to a survey done by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts, 43% of divorces are the result of incompatibility, 28% are due to infidelity, and 22% are due to financial stress. The other ten percent was attributed to "emotional and/or physical abuse", "parenting issues/arguments", and "addiction and/or alcoholism issues".

Additionally, one CDFA (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst) stated that basic incompatibility is actually a broad reason that usually encompasses some of the other causes mentioned above.

In a recent Huffington Post article, "Divorce Causes: 5 Marriage Mistakes That Lead to Divorce", one hundred couples answered this question: What would be a deal-breaker in your marriage?

Their responses included cheating, dishonesty, addictions, abuse, and major changes in priorities (which upon reading the description looks very similar to "incompatibility"). Read more by clicking here.

While incompatibility and infidelity are well-known as deal-breakers in a marriage, some may find financial stress puzzling as a cause of divorce. Some may be asking, "How is it possible that financial stress overshadows the percentage of marriages ending due to abuse or parenting issues?" However, there are studies that support the high percentage of marriages ending in divorce as a result of financial issues.

According to a 2009 study by Jeffrey Dew at Utah State University, couples who disagree about finances once a week are over 30 percent more likely to get divorced than couples that report disagreeing about finances a few times a month.

Regardless of the reason, it is obvious that divorce rates are on the rise. The reasons may change over the years but one thing will invariably remain: people won't get divorces because of sweatpants.

Let us know what you think and tweet @HARDENJACKSON.

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or

Remember, these blog posts are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

Photo credit: sweatpant fashion+striped shirt+blazer+wedges+window+ferragamo bag+buildings via photopin (license)

You've Decided to File for Divorce. Now What?

March 13, 2015

15053056352_b003a001e8.jpgThe Technical Part

For whatever reason, you've decided to file for divorce. There are several things you need to do before you file for a divorce.

1. Call an attorney. This part doesn't have to be stressful - search engines like Google have made finding a good attorney faster and easier than in the past. Be wary of experience levels - an ideal attorney might have 5-10 years of experience, depending on the assets involved with your spouse.
2. Decide the style of your divorce. Will you mediate? Collaborate? Litigate? Typically the first two options will be significantly cheaper than litigation, though they require a high degree of tolerance and compromise.
3. Figure out the financials. Determine the assets that you own - both separate from your spouse and with your spouse. Draft a list of these items and add to it as you think of additional assets. Also determine any debts that you may owe (again, with or without your spouse) because these debts will also be allocated during the divorce.
4. Gather your documents. Find everything you can and make a copy of it - tax returns, bank statements, check registers, investment statements, retirement account statements, employee benefits handbooks, life insurance policies, mortgage documents, financial statements, credit card statements, wills, Social Security statements, automobile titles, etc. You will need documentation to show your income and the income of your spouse - if you are both salaried employees, these two figures can be proved using pay stubs from an income tax return. If either party is self-employed, copies and bank account statements might be the way to go.
5. Create a new budget. You have a new life that starts once you file for divorce - your income and expenses are now (primarily) separate. Make sure you are proactive about this step as it is essential to money management.
6. Identify and close any joint accounts. You don't want the headache of a joint account during the divorce process.

The (More) Fun Part

You're somewhere along in the divorce process - either right in the thick of it or within your first few months post-divorce. There are several things that you should try with your new life.

1. Create a list of all the things you want to do. There are undoubtedly things that you've put off doing because of your marriage. Now is the time to do them! Consider any childhood or college dreams that went unrealized and experiment with your interests. Delve into something you love. Ideas.
2. Spoil yourself. Buy something you've always wanted. You deserve it.
3. Draft a self-improvement plan. By identifying the parts of yourself that you might let go of with the added stress of your divorce, you can better address these parts and nurture them to make sure they stick around. This also gives you a huge boost in your self-confidence - if you know you have a tendency to stop working out when you're sad or stressed, being proactive and coming up with an attack strategy to keep hitting the gym can make you feel accomplished in a tough situation.
4. Be lazy. While you should keep up on your self-improvement plan, make sure to get some "me time" by relaxing with a hot bath, a nice movie, or a good book. When was the last time you got to choose your own movie, anyway?
5. Find your motivation. It sounds strange but little things like a playlist of empowering songs or a bulletin board full of inspirational quotes can pick you up when you're down. Don't neglect the little things!

Let us know what you think and tweet @HARDENJACKSON.

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or

Remember, these blog posts are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

Photo credit: Daisaku Ikeda A person's true nature is revealed at times of the greatest adversity via photopin (license)

Divorce Statistics Unaffected by NJ Collaborative Family Law Act

March 6, 2015

Wedding Ring Blog Post.jpgLast fall, Governor Christie signed the New Jersey Collaborative Family Law Act after it passed unanimously through both the Senate and General Assembly. This legislation is modeled on a proposal from the New Jersey Law Revision Commission and the national Uniform Law Commission. The New Jersey Collaborative Family Law Act allows couples to have a marriage dissolved without court intervention through a process similar to mediation, in which both sides would be required to provide "timely, full, and candid disclosure" of relevant information without either side having to resort to discovery.

This demonstration of partisanship and constructive reform would allow couples who litigate their divorces in New Jersey to settle their cases through a newly enacted method called collaborative law. But according to recent statistics given by presiding judges in Morris; Sussex; Somerset; and Essex counties, approximately 97 percent of couples are still going through traditional divorces that end in settlements. So why aren't couples turning to collaboration to settle their divorces?

Even though New Jersey has one of the lowest divorce rates in the nation (6.9 per 1,000 women; 6.6 per 1,000 men), New Jersey is the ninth state to legitimize this process to reduce costs, improve the selection of options for divorcing spouses, reduce the impact of the divorce on children, and create new jobs in the legal, financial, and psychological health sectors.

This new area of New Jersey law has become the fourth official way to become divorced in New Jersey (and arguably the least costly). According to Assemblyman Holly Schepisi (R-Dist. 39), she introduced the New Jersey Collaborative Family Law Act because the cost of divorce was so high, ranging anywhere from $10,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Having a joint expert shared by both parties, for example, can significantly reduce the costs typically associated with litigation where each couple hires their own expert.

Any given New Jersey couple now has the option to choose to litigate, mediate, arbitrate, or collaborate. It seems logical that couples would embrace an agreement that they've played a part in performing and this method also allows couples to come up with creative solutions that judges can't decide in court through traditional options like open duration, term, rehabilitative, or reimbursement. Through the use of collaborative law, divorcing spouses have more control over elements of the divorce such as timing and terms of settlement.

Additionally, couples who choose collaboration can often resolve later disputes more easily because their divorce was openly discussed and resolved in a collaborative method with minimal court intervention.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 40 percent of all children will experience the divorce of their parents. Additionally, 20 to 25 percent of those children will suffer significant adjustment problems as teenagers that they will carry into adulthood.

Because of the amiable nature of collaborative divorce, many couples are able to come up with a co-parenting plan (attached to their divorce decree) and establish a mutually agreeable system of handling their children's finances and other aspects of the child's care. This saves the child from becoming collateral damage as a result of drawn-out arguments and further emotional stress.

Lastly, this legislative reform has the potential to create new jobs while certainly strengthening and standardizing professional training and skills of existing collaborative professionals. Talia Katz, CEO of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, states, "We all quickly realized that divorce is not just a legal event. It's an emotional event. It's a financial event."

According to a survey by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts, 62% of respondents said the number of new clients coming through their doors has remained steady or actually increased since the start of the recession. This new sector of financial advising through divorce agreements allows analysts to advise clients see how different financial arrangements play out after any given number of years (one, two, five, ten, retirement years) using family law software. Trough the help of this software, divorce financial planners can analyze components such as the tax impact of their alimony, child support, and individual income to help divorcing spouses make logical, informed decisions that formulate an effective financial strategy.

According to the New Jersey Collaborative Law Group, collaborative divorce bolsters civility through the termination of a marriage. One possible explanation for this civility could be the introduction of collaborative divorce coaches. Aaron Welt, a Morristown clinical psychologist who is now employed in the collaborative law field, says that as a divorce coach he advises clients to "recognize a fair deal when you see it and you can't let certain emotions like anger, regret, or resentment cloud your judgment." These divorce coaches typically work to reduce the emotional stress of the collaborative process.

According to an article by The Daily Record, a range of mental health experts - including clinical psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, licensed professional counselors, psychiatrists, substance abuse specialists, and compulsive behavior specialists - can be drawn into the process as needed, as can real estate and financial specialists.

Collaborative divorce agreements are most popular along the east coast and west coast, but experts predict that expansion will continue toward the Midwestern region of the U.S.

Let us know what you think about New Jersey's collaborative divorce legislation and tweet @HARDENJACKSON.

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or

Remember, these blog posts are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

photo credit: Engagement Ring via photopin (license)

Valentine's Day Divorces

February 20, 2015

Heartbreak Valentine's Day Divorces Blog Post.jpgWhile February is typically considered the month of love, many firms this month have offered free or discounted fees for filing a divorce claim. One law firm in Charleston, West Virginia accepted applications from couples that competed to show who deserved a free divorce. One location in New York even calls itself a "Divorce Hotel", where you can check-in married and check-out single after your weekend stay.

Another firm advertised that they were "giving away one free divorce for Valentine's Day. The winner will be chosen based on the most compelling and convincing story as to why they should be the winner."

According to, Valentine's Day sees a forty percent spike in divorce filings. Perhaps it's because the fear of ruining the holidays around November and December (who wants to explain to their mother why their husband isn't joining them for Christmas dinner?).

It could also be the intense pressure surrounding a day of romanticism and high expectations, which tend to be a bad combination when someone in the relationship is forgetful. One woman from Des Moines, Iowa was left reeling this year when her husband asked for a divorce after sending her two dozen roses to work last Valentine's Day with a note that read, "It's not you. It's the holidays. I need a divorce."

Another possibility is the financial pressure surrounding couples after holiday spending and the New Year - according to an article in The New York Times, couples who report disagreeing about finances once a week are thirty percent more likely to get a divorce than couples who reported disagreeing about finances a few times a month.

Regardless of the reason for the forty percent spike in divorce filings, many law firms have started taking advantage of these Valentine's Day blues. The ethical question is: should law firms be taking advantage of couples who are emotionally vulnerable in February?

The Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct states:

"A lawyer shall not solicit professional employment from a prospective client by in-person or by written, recorded, audio, video, or electronic communication, including the internet, if the lawyer knows, or reasonably should know, that the physical, emotional, or mental state of the person makes it unlikely that the person would exercise reasonable judgment in employing a lawyer."

Ultimately, Indiana attorneys are bound by the laws, regulations, and policies of the Indiana State Bar Association's ethics code. Outside of legislation and these rules, attorneys are only bound by their own personal code of ethics. Or in other words: each attorney must decide if advertising discounted divorce rates during the month of February (when the number of divorce filings is known to increase by forty percent) is taking advantage of the emotional state of a couple experiencing marital issues and impeding their ability to make a reasonable decision in choosing an attorney.

So what do you think? Let us know and tweet @HARDENJACKSON.

Remember, these suggestions are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

Photo Credit: Broken Heart Grunge via photopin

Resources for helping your children through divorce

August 26, 2014

suitcases.jpgIf you are planning to divorce, as a parent you have many concerns, the first of which may be how to tell your children. If you are in counseling, your therapist may have several suggestions for sharing the news with your children and preparing them for the transition during and after the divorce. You may also want to consider working with a divorce coach or parenting coordinator depending upon the nature of co-parenting or custody concerns you are facing. Seeking advice from experienced, specific support resources can make a significant difference in your and your children's ability to cope and adapt. The decision to divorce is only one step in a series of changes and modified plans that will vary as your children grow and you and your ex's lives change (relocation, remarriage, etc), so preparing now can help you avoid being mired in adversity and litigation, which will risk financial and emotional collapse for your family.

If counseling isn't a viable option for you (don't assume it isn't within your financial means as many therapists work on a sliding fee scale), there are a number of online resources including and which have blogs, discussion boards, videos, radio broadcasts and even worksheets and exercises which can help you become more child-centered and focus on co-parenting. With advice from experts and other parents who've been there, you can mine the information that is best for your particular situation.

You may also want to consider reading one of the numerous divorce guides or books with advice for divorcing parents. In determining which books are best for preparing your children, there are actually only a few which are based on solid knowledge and psychological research about how children and adolescents respond to the separation of their parents. Some which are recommended are: 'Mom's House, Dad's House for Kids: Feeling at Home in One Home or Two' by Isolina Ricci; 'The Truth About Children and Divorce: Dealing with the Emotions so You and Your Children Can Thrive' by Robert E. Emery, or 'For Better or For Worse: Divorce Reconsidered' by E. Mavis Hetherington and John Kelly.

The reality is that the extreme cases in divorce are, thankfully, the rare scenarios. Divorce is not "easy" despite opinions to the contrary, but it also isn't likely to lead to tragedy. Most families will struggle with financial and emotional issues as they separate into two households, change parenting styles or responsibilities, adjust schedules, deal with support and work issues and try to figure out "where to go from here." Grief, anger, bitterness, resentment, and even relief are all natural feelings which accompany divorce. These are feelings not just for the spouses, but their children as well.

Divorce isn't just a legal issue, and compassionate family law attorneys will acknowledge that by providing suggestions to clients of external resources to address the financial and emotional issues. The traditional litigation divorce model is only one path to dissolve your marriage, and for many families, alternatives to litigation such as collaborative law or mediation are better options to reduce the impact of the divorce on the spouses and children. Prospective divorce clients are usually operating from two different emotional positions - one is proactive, a spouse who for a number of reasons meets with an attorney for a general consultation to possibly discuss divorce, but isn't ready to initiate proceedings. The other is in reactionary mode because the other spouse has filed for divorce or perhaps has committed infidelity causing a strong emotional response often motivated by retaliation. In either situation, you can benefit from planning and researching how to discuss divorce with your children. Your advance preparation can help you avoid involving them in an adult situation, and minimize the emotional impact as you guide them through the transition.

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact Leah Potter at 317.569.0770 or

Remember, these suggestions are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.


July 31, 2014

bride secret.jpg There is one thing that is certain in every single divorce case: Unsolicited opinions and advice from others. Anyone who has gone through or is going through a divorce can most definitely say that they have received advice from friends, family, colleagues and pretty much anyone they encounter. Everyone wants to offer their opinions, share their stories and give advice on how to handle the divorce.

We get calls every day from our clients that start with the sentence: "My friend/neighbor/sister told me that I need to.....". It is completely understandable that the people around you would want to provide support and give advice in an emotional and difficult situation. That's what friends are for, right?

But, how should you handle all of this advice and well-meaning suggestions? Should you act on the opinions of friends, family and/or non-divorce professionals?

For the most part: No. Especially, if they are giving advice about legal and/or financial matters.

After all, divorce is a LEGAL process. That is not to say that there aren't many emotional issues that come with it, however, the end result relies on the law, and often times with a judge. Divorcing couples must remember that every situation is unique. Every situation needs expertise and professional guidance. You deserve to receive guidance from someone who understand the complexities of Indiana's divorce laws and someone who understand the financial impact that a divorce can have. It is imperative to your future, whether that be your financial future or the future of your children, to emerge from divorce with the best outcome for you and your family.

So, next time you need to vent to your family and friends, feel free, but be wary of the advice and opinions you get back. Utilize your support network as a sounding board and turn to the professionals for the advice you need for your path forward.

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact Leah Potter at 317.569.0770 or

Remember, these suggestions are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

photo credit: Suus Wansink via photopin cc

"Conscious Uncoupling" - What does it mean?

March 27, 2014

Gwyneth-Paltrow-Chris-Martin.jpgThe phrase "conscious uncoupling" made the news this week as Hollywood couple, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin announced their split. The couple used the phrase to describe their separation, and what we can only assume to be their impending divorce. The term "conscious uncoupling" left people around the country puzzled by what it actually means.

While the term may be new or fairly unknown, we can assume several things about "conscious uncoupling". First of all, based on the blog post on Paltrow's website Goop, it sounds like the couple has been working hard on their relationship and have now decided to amicably split. From a family law perspective, it sounds like the couple will be perfect candidates for mediation or collaborative law to handle their split. These methods of non-adversarial "decoupling" are nothing new in the family law realm. Our Indiana divorce attorneys routinely practice in both mediation and collaborative law as an alternative solution to litigation for our clients.

Mediation is a non-adversarial alternative to litigation wherein the parties work together, with the help of a neutral third party "mediator," to determine their own outcome, as opposed to having a result imposed upon them by a court. Mediation typically occurs in an office rather than a courtroom, making the process less formal than a court proceeding. The mediator does not decide the outcome of the dispute, but rather assists the parties in reaching their own mutually acceptable resolution. A mediator may inform parties of certain applicable laws, rules and guidelines so that parties may have the information necessary to make well-reasoned decisions.

Mediation can result in quicker dispute resolution since mediation occurs at the parties' and mediator's convenience, as opposed to judicial proceedings which are often scheduled months or even years in advance, depending on the court ' s calendar. Because much of the necessary exchange of information between the parties can occur at mediation as opposed to gathering the same through time-consuming and costly formal "discovery," mediation tends also to be less expensive than litigating a dispute through a court proceeding.

In family law matters involving children, mediation can set the stage for future peaceful and cooperative parenting, as opposed to the hostile and uncooperative parenting relationships which too often follow bitter and lengthy legal battles, and which typically have a profound negative effect on children.

Collaborative Law is another alternative dispute resolution process in which the parties retain separate attorneys whose primary function is to help them reach an agreed settlement. The parties and their attorneys collaborate in good faith, and commit to communicate respectfully and honestly to represent the legitimate needs of both parties.

Collaborative Law is an option to deal more effectively with potential problems for parties who may not be as prepared for mediation. While maintaining the same absolute commitment to settlement as the sole agenda, each party has quality legal advice and advocacy built in at all times during the process. Even if either party lacks negotiating skill, or is emotionally upset or angry, the process is equalized by the presence of the skilled advocates. It is the responsibility of the attorneys to encourage their clients to be reasonable to make sure that the process stays positive and productive.

The best candidates for the collaborative process are parties who, among other factors, want a civilized, respectful resolution of the issues, would like to keep open the possibility of a friendship with the other party, will be co-parenting children together and want the best co-parenting relationship possible, and want to protect their children from the harm associated with protracted, contested litigation.

It is impossible to know the exact circumstances surrounding the separation of the Hollywood couple, or any couple, for that matter. However, it is to be commended that the parties have already stated that they are respectful of each other and are committed to coparenting together. While amicable separations are not possible in all situations, it can be said that the commitment to parenting and causing the least amount of emotional trauma on the children is always a step in the right direction when dealing with difficult matters such as divorce.

Remember, these suggestions are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

(Photo: Colin Young-Wolff, Invision/AP)

How to manage your fees in your Divorce

January 24, 2014

FAMILY LAW WEB.jpgFinding the best divorce lawyer for your situation can be difficult. Once you've chosen an attorney, the decisions don't end there. You can choose your actions carefully and help manage your case to reduce fees and emotional turmoil. Our law office offers suggestions to keep the fees (and emotions) under control.
Legal matters can contribute to emotional and financial stress. A client's emotional state can cause attorneys' fees and litigation costs to escalate. For example, if one party is vindictive or mean-spirited, he/she may refuse to negotiate in good faith, behave in such a manner that necessitates numerous court appearances, or otherwise cause delays. Assuming the other party acts unreasonably, such conduct is outside your control. In these circumstances your divorce attorney should attempt to cope with the situation through appropriate procedures. This negative conduct will be expensive and exhausting to all parties. By being aware of how emotion and behavior can affect attorneys' fees, you are capable of reducing fees by conducting yourself in the highest, most rational manner and following these simple rules:

  1. Keep in mind that the services your family law attorney provides are primarily legal. It is essential that your attorney understand the basic nature of your past interaction with the other party(ies). It is in your best interests that you recognize and cope with the stress which occurs when you are involved in a legal dispute. If necessary, see a professional therapist or counselor. Our office is happy to give credible referrals. Unless you are thinking clearly, you may be inclined to make decisions influenced more by emotion, which could increase your fees or negatively affect the litigation or settlement of your case.

  2. Participate as effectively as you can in your own case. Your lawyer will ask you to help in gathering information and documents. Your time is likely to be less expensive to you than an attorney's time. Accordingly, it is for your own best financial interests that you obtain as much of the information and documents for your case as possible, and provide them to us when requested.

  3. During your case, your attorney may undertake the discovery process. Parties, through their counsel, may submit formal requests for information and documents, including a long set of written questions, called INTERROGATORIES. Parties are entitled, under the rules of the court, to request answers to the information sought, although it may entail hours of research gathering your records. It is your attorney's legal responsibility to ensure that the information is supplied. Many of the INTERROGATORIES are seeking answers that are legal in nature which will require our guidance. However, if the labor of answering all of the INTERROGATORIES falls to your attorney or if there is a delay in producing documents that you could have provided more easily than an attorney can obtain, it will increase your fees. Also, if there is a delay in response due to your lack of cooperation, the other party could apply to the court for an order to compel you to answer and produce, and there could be monetary sanctions against you.

  4. Organize the papers involved in your case and bring them to conferences and hearings unless otherwise directed. This will also help you keep track of the status of your case.

  5. Think positively toward settlement of your case. Most cases are, and should be, settled through the negotiations of the parties and attorneys. The court expects those attempts. Often, the parties' discussions help to bring about a settlement

Additionally, there are other avenues to resolve disputes. Mediation is a manner of "Alternative Dispute Resolution" in which a certified mediator can help parties negotiate and reach agreement. Your attorney should discuss with you at some point and advise whether to mediate, and in some cases, the court may require mediation or a settlement conference prior to scheduling a final hearing or trial. Your attorney should always be in a position to negotiate a settlement, and quite frankly, a negotiated settlement is often the most favorable and cost effective way of achieving a result acceptable to both parties. It has been said that the mark of a good settlement is that neither party is entirely happy

However, sometimes litigation is the only way to resolve the dispute. Litigation can be costly and stressful. However, it may be necessary. If it is necessary, your attorney should work with you to prepare your case for trial in order to present your case as favorably as possible.

Remember, these suggestions are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult an experienced family law lawyer in Indiana to discuss the specifics of your situation.

Lanae Harden speaks about divorce in Indiana for online radio show

December 20, 2013

LMH WEB2.jpg
We are proud that Lanae Harden was recently interviewed by the Business Leader Spotlight Show, an online radio show that is syndicated to over 1.5-million listeners. The
"Business Leader Spotlight" show's goal is to take topics that are of general interest to the public and provide valuable insights into the topic from experienced professionals in that industry. Lanae was interviewed about the legal issues you can encounter in a divorce in Indiana. You can listen to the interview by clicking on the following link:

Lanae Harden Indiana Divorce Attorney Interview

Can my husband or wife leave and take the kids?

December 10, 2013

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You've decided to separate. Your spouse is moving out of the home. But now, he or she claims that they are taking the kids with them when they leave. Are they permitted to take the children with them when they leave?

Maybe. Unless the courts have already determined a custody agreement, one parent is not required permission to leave with the children. If you plan to pursue custody of the children, it is advised not to leave the house. Even if you take the children with you, it may impact custody decisions because the courts can decide to keep the children at the house to reduce the disruption in their lives.

The first thing you should do is contact an experienced family law attorney. Here is more information on how to find an attorney for you and questions you should ask your attorney. Your attorney should file for a temporary custody order. Temporary custody may be decided as soon as the parents are separated.

If the parties cannot agree to a temporary custody arrangement then a hearing may be scheduled. After the hearing, the judge will issue a temporary order deciding custody. This order will be in effect until the final divorce decree is entered by the court.

What should you do if your spouse takes the children against your will?
Speak to an attorney immediately. An attorney can assist with obtaining the temporary custody order.

If you feel your children may be in danger, contact the police immediately.

Remember, these suggestions are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult an experienced assisted reproductive technology law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation

photo credit: sachman75 via photopin cc

Facebook and Divorce

August 22, 2013

heart break.jpg
Facebook, the online social network, is estimated to have over 1 billion users per month. As the network has gained in popularity, researchers and scientists have been studying the effects on our daily lives, particularly our real life relationships. A study from the University of Michigan finds that Facebook use may dampen users' happiness levels. Furthermore, in 2012, divorce lawyers surveyed by Divorce-Online UK said that the social network was implicated in a third of all divorce filings the previous year. And more than 80 percent of U.S. divorce attorneys say social networking in divorce proceedings is on the rise, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Our divorce attorneys at Harden Jackson Law in Indiana can agree with these sentiments.

Most recently, another study was done at the University of Missouri that indicates excessive Facebook use can CAUSE damage to relationships. Russell Clayton, a doctoral student in the University Of Missouri School Of Journalism, found that individuals who use Facebook excessively are far more likely to experience Facebook-related conflict with their romantic partners, which then may cause negative relationship outcomes including emotional and physical cheating, breakup and divorce.

"Previous research has shown that the more a person in a romantic relationship uses Facebook, the more likely they are to monitor their partner's Facebook activity more stringently, which can lead to feelings of jealousy," Clayton said. "Facebook-induced jealousy may lead to arguments concerning past partners. Also, our study found that excessive Facebook users are more likely to connect or reconnect with other Facebook users, including previous partners, which may lead to emotional and physical cheating."
This trend applied particularly to couples who had been in relationships under 3 years, maybe because these relationships had not fully matured.

So, how do you detach from the social media world? Some users reported deactivating their account to save their relationships. It's obvious that people need to focus on their personal, face-to-face relationships more and less on those "virtual" relationships. Facebook is a social networking tool that should be used as such and not taken too seriously. Also, limit your time on Facebook, instead of checking hourly, check daily or even a couple of times per week. Pare down your friend list to those that truly matter to your real life.

Back to school tips for co-parents after divorce

July 26, 2013

pencils.jpgIt's that time of year. Summer is coming to a close and school is almost back in session. For divorced parents, this may present its own unique set of challenges in addition to the usual back to school transition. Below are common issues that can come up and tips to resolve.

Change in custody schedule - The new school year means new activities, new sports, new friends, and new problems with visitation schedules for parents who are separated or divorced. Parents should work together to find an agreeable schedule for them and for the child. Parents should communicate the changes with the children and prepare them for upcoming changes.

Finances - with the new school year comes new financial burdens. Fees for tuition, books, supplies and extracurricular activities add up. In Indiana, public school fees (including books, bus etc.), are considered a controlled expense and should be paid for by the custodial parent. However, private school tuition and extracurricular activity expenses are either decided by a court order or an agreement by the parents. Often times, parties will agree to the splitting of these fees, whether proportionately to income or equally. Pay the expenses you have been ordered or agreed to pay. Paying your attorney fees to argue over these expenses will probably exceed the costs of paying for the expenses themselves.

Activities and Schedules- During the school year, there are sporting events, performances, conference and other events that both parents should attend. At the start of the school year, both parents should sit down and make plans for school events, vacations and early-release days. A huge part of your child's happiness is receiving love and support from both parents with peace and harmony. Don't fight, argue or cause any conflict with your ex at school events. Period.

Back to school can be a stressful time for a family, especially after a divorce. Putting your differences aside to focus on your children can only make that transition easier for them and create a positive foundation to start the school year from.

Indiana to decide on same-sex divorce

July 3, 2013

1392509_rainbow_flag.jpgLast week, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages solemnized in states where such marriages are legal for the purpose of applying federal benefits. In other words, same sex couples that are legally married are entitled to the same federal benefits as married heterosexual couples. The Supremes did not, however, mandate that all states legalize same sex marriage but rather left that determination to each individual state. There are currently 13 states that allow same-sex marriage.
What impact will the Court's ruling have on states that have not legalized same-sex marriage? We may soon find out the answer to that question. On June 26th, the same date as the Supreme Court's decision, Indiana received what is one of the first same-sex petition for dissolution of marriage in our state (there was a petition filed in 2009, which was dismissed by the judge). The petition states that "The parties have been and are residents of the state of Indiana for more than 6 month as per statute. Although Indiana does not recognize same sex marriage, Indiana must give full faith and credit to this marriage which was duly solemnized in Massachusetts and hereby grant the parties' dissolution of marriage."
Indiana family law attorneys around the state have many questions on the impact of this decision. If the federal government gives full faith and credit to legal same-sex marriages, will individual states be required to do the same? In states like Indiana where same sex marriage is not legal, will they be required to recognize those same-sex marriages performed legally elsewhere? Is there a "right" to divorce that must be applied equally to heterosexual and same-sex couples?

The role of a Guardian ad Litem in family law cases

May 31, 2013

1205419_little_fisher.jpgYou may be wondering what the role of a Guardian Ad Litem is in family law cases. Frequently abbreviated "GAL", the Guardian Ad Litem is a volunteer appointed by the court to represent the best interests of a child involved in litigation. Indiana law requires the appointment of either a guardian ad litem or a trained court appointed special advocate in abuse and neglect cases. The purpose of the GAL is NOT to directly "represent" the child, a distinction which some find confusing, especially as many GALs are attorneys. However, it is not necessary to be an attorney to be a GAL, but Indiana does required that GAL or CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) volunteers complete special training.

Traditionally, GAL/CASA volunteers have been appointed in abuse or neglect cases or when a child becomes subject of proceedings to terminate a parent/child relationship. However, Indiana law allows for appointments of these special volunteers in divorce or paternity cases, which is becoming more frequent, especially when custody is contested or allegations arise regarding the health and safety of the child in the family law proceeding.

The GAL will perform a number of functions in a case to help determine the best interests of a child. The volunteer may conduct home visits and interview the parent(s), stepparents, significant others, or extended family who are involved in the child's home life. They may also interview any child care providers as well as teachers and may review medical or education records. The GAL is tasked with investigating the child's situation and ultimately filing a report with the court regarding the GAL's recommendation about custody of the child. For more information about the role of GAL/CASA volunteers in Indiana, please visit the Kids' Voice of Indiana link below.

Dissolution of Marriage in Guardian Ad Litem Practice

If you have questions about divorce in Indiana or other family law matters, please contact Harden Jackson Law.

Remember, these suggestions are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

My Cheating Spouse: What Impact Does Infidelity Have on Divorce?

May 16, 2013

By: Clarissa Finnell

wedding_rings_-_african_american.jpgAlmost every meeting with a new divorce client starts with a recitation of all the reasons that the parties are getting divorced. High on that list is infidelity. Clients will provide me with loads and loads of evidence that their spouse is cheating and are surprised to find out that all this "proof" of infidelity is unlikely to impact their divorce. Indiana is a no-fault divorce state which in basic terms means that the reason the parties are divorcing is not a factor considered by the court when dividing up the parties' assets and debts. The reason or grounds for divorce that is most commonly used in Indiana divorce petitions is that there has been an "irretrievable breakdown" in the marriage. It is important to know that there does not have to be a consensus on whether the marriage is "irretrievably broken". As long as one party alleges that it is "broken", the divorce can be granted.

So, does this mean that your spouse's cheating will never be relevant in a divorce proceeding? Not necessarily; there are a couple of incidents where it may play a factor. The first is dissipation. There is a presumption in Indiana that all marital assets and liabilities be divided equally. There are several ways that you can rebut that presumption. Dissipation is a factor that the court may consider when deciding to divide the marital estate. If you can show that your spouse used marital assets on another person during your marriage that may be considered dissipation. For example, spending money on travel or gifts for the "other" woman or man may be considered dissipation and warrant a deviation from the presumptive 50/50 division.

In addition to being a factor considered in the division of property, a significant other may be a factor in a custody determination. The court will not correlate one's fitness to be a parent with their faithfulness as a spouse. However, the court may consider the parent's judgment with respect to when and if they introduce their children to the other person. Generally, it is not wise to introduce children to a new girlfriend or boyfriend too soon after the separation. The Court would also be concerned about the parent's judgment if their new significant other poses a danger to the children. Exposing the children to someone who is abusing alcohol or drugs or that has a history of abusing children, would impact a custody determination.

Although the law in Indiana does not take punitive measures against the cheating spouse, there are limited circumstances where it may be a factor in the divorce process. As these cases are fact sensitive, it is always a good idea to discuss the specifics of your case with an attorney to determine what if any relevance your spouse's actions will impact your divorce.

The attorneys at Harden Jackson practice exclusively in the area of family law and are skilled at handling any type of family law case. While divorce and legal separation are the more common areas of practice, we have extensive experience with custody, child support, pre/post-marital agreements and more.

If you have questions about divorce in Indiana or other family law matters, please contact Harden Jackson Law.

Remember, these suggestions are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult an attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.