Here’s what you need to know about spousal maintenance in Indiana.
- Who is Entitled to Alimony in Indiana?
- Types of Support in Indiana
- What Factors Are Used to Determine Alimony?
- Modifying or Terminating Spousal Support in Indiana
- Enforcing Indiana Alimony Awards
- Spousal Support and Taxes
- Indiana Alimony FAQs
Who is Entitled to Alimony in Indiana?
Either spouse can ask for maintenance in a divorce, but Indiana has strict guidelines regarding who is eligible. The court presumes both spouses will work to support themselves after the divorce but will allow a judge to order spousal maintenance if:
- The requesting spouse is physically or mentally incapacitated to the extent that they can’t become self-supporting.
- A spouse lacks sufficient property to meet financial needs, and the spouse is a custodial parent of a child with a physical or mental illness, making it impossible for the custodial parent to work.
- The court finds that rehabilitative maintenance is necessary for a supported spouse to acquire training or education.
Types of Support in Indiana
The most common type of maintenance in Indiana is rehabilitative support. The court awards it when a judge believes one spouse can become financially independent but needs support while receiving an education or training to become employable.
Rehabilitative support applies, and the court will order it only after evaluating several factors.
If the court believes that an ex-spouse meets the requirements for rehabilitative maintenance, the judge can order support payments for up to three years per Indiana law.
A less common form of maintenance is due to physical or mental incapacity. If a spouse is physically or mentally incapacitated, a court may order maintenance is necessary during the period of incapacitation if it materially affects that spouse’s ability to support him or herself. There is no statutory time limitation, and a judge can order it for a short or long-term duration.
The courts can consider the disabled spouse’s ability to earn income and the other spouse’s ability to provide for maintenance.
If the divorcing spouses are the parents of a child who is physically or mentally incapacitated, the court may find award alimony if:
- The incapacitation requires the spouse needing maintenance to forego employment, and
- The spouse lacks sufficient property, including a marital property settlement, to provide for the spouse’s needs.
Another form of maintenance is by agreement between the divorcing parties. There is no statute to cover this, but spouses can reach an agreement regarding alimony.
Spouses often worry about how they’ll make ends meet while their divorce is pending. In Indiana, you can ask a judge for temporary spousal maintenance. Temporary support ends when the judge issues a new support order or finalizes the divorce. This is appropriate when one spouse is unemployed or doesn’t earn enough to pay for a new household without help.
There is no specific formula judges use to calculate spousal maintenance in Indiana. Judges have broad discretion on a case-by-case basis and will try to calculate an amount that will allow both spouses to have similar lifestyles after the divorce.
Read More: How to File For Divorce in Indiana
What Factors Are Used to Determine Alimony?
When rehabilitative support appears to be warranted, the court will create a maintenance order it only after evaluating the following factors:
- Each spouse’s educational level at the time of the marriage and on the date of the divorce
- Whether the requesting spouse interrupted education, training, or employment opportunities during the marriage due to homemaking or childcare responsibilities, or both
- Each spouse’s earning capacity, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, length of employment or absence from the job market, and
- The time and expense necessary for the supported spouse to gain sufficient education or training to enter the workforce and find appropriate employment.
As a general rule, Indiana prefers not to issue alimony without a specific end date. In fact, a trial court cannot order alimony for the rest of a spouse’s life. However, the parties can agree to that themselves, and if the court accepts it, the paying spouse will not be able to modify this agreement unless the agreement states that it can be modified.
Indiana courts seek to try and maintain the lifestyles of both parties when issuing alimony orders. To do this, the court will also consider both spouses’ properties, incomes, potential earning power, and any other financials the court deems relevant to the case.
Other financial considerations include the training or education of each spouse relevant to their fields of employment and the current job market for those fields. Courts also consider the education level of each spouse, including any interruptions to education either spouse suffered at the expense of the well-being of the other, the marriage, or any children.
Read More: Everything You Need to Know About Alimony
Modifying or Terminating Spousal Support in Indiana
Indiana statutes provide for a maintenance modification or termination when certain circumstances apply. The person requesting the modification or termination must show substantial and continuing changes in circumstances since the original order was issued, making the terms unreasonable now.
Some examples of substantial changes may include:
- One party losing a job or obtaining a new job with a higher income
- One party becoming disabled or a child requiring extra care
- College tuition that was not in the original divorce agreement
- One party obtaining a personal injury settlement
- One party moving out of state with court permission, resulting in increased travel costs for the child
Modification may be applicable if a party can show that child support differs by more than 20% from the amount ordered by applying the child support guidelines, and the request for modification or revocation is filed at least 12 months after the original support order was issued.
Ex-spouses who reach alimony agreements on their own can also attempt to modify their agreement, but they have fewer protections. In these instances, the rules of contract mainly apply as settlement agreements are contracts, and typically the courts will enforce those agreements if the meaning is clear and both parties understood.
Until the order is officially changed, the paying spouse must keep making spousal support payments per the agreement that is in place. Not doing so runs the risk of facing enforcement actions.
Enforcing Indiana Alimony Awards
After your divorce has been finalized in Indiana, there are often instances when the paying spouse may not continue making their court-ordered alimony payments as defined in the court order.
When this happens, you have several options you can pursue to compel payment. You will need to communicate with the other party to see if alimony in arrears is due to a job loss, illness, or other events beyond the other party’s control. In those cases, and if your spouse is agreeable, you can try to work out a payment schedule that is appropriate and fair to both of you.
However, if your spouse has the means and stops paying for no good reason, you can ask the courts for assistance to get what you are owed.
Typically, this is done through a contempt order. The judge will hold a hearing, and if it is determined the other spouse has the means, several options are on the table. They can include:
- Wage garnishment
- Estate confiscation
- Money judgment
- Writ of execution giving access to bank accounts and other financial assets
- Jail time
- Imposition of additional fees such as paying for your court costs
Read More: How to Find Hidden Assets in a Divorce
Spousal Support and Taxes
Due to recent changes in Federal laws, the payer cannot deduct alimony or separate maintenance payments under a divorce or separation instrument executed after 2018. These payments are also not included as taxable income for recipients.
The same is true of Indiana alimony paid under a divorce or separation instrument executed before 2019 and modified after 2018 if the modification expressly states that the alimony isn’t deductible to the payor spouse or included in the income of the recipient spouse.
Taxpayers paying alimony under a divorce agreement executed before 2019 can deduct those payments from taxes when the following criteria are met:
- The recipient must be a spouse or former spouse
- There must be a written divorce or separation instrument
- Alimony must be made with cash payments (such as checks and money orders)
- Maintenance does not continue after the recipient dies
- The parties must live apart, residing in different households
- The parties must file separate tax returns (they cannot file a joint return and claim the alimony deduction)
- The court-ordered payment of alimony cannot state that payments are not deductible
Indiana Alimony FAQs
What is the difference between spousal maintenance and alimony?
There is no difference. The terms are interchangeable. Indiana uses spousal maintenance for legal purposes, while other states use their own terms.
Is marital fault considered in Indiana alimony?
Indiana does not consider marital fault when determining alimony payments. This means that divorces considered at fault due to cheating or infidelity, abuse, or other factors do not affect the calculation of alimony payments.
Can a prenuptial agreement waive alimony?
Yes. A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract that is enforceable in a court. When parties agree that no alimony will be paid and insert that clause into a prenuptial agreement, the court will recognize that standing and apply it to future court actions (assuming the prenup is valid).