Continuing in the alphabet blog series, as it relates to terms you might encounter in a divorce, this post covers key “B” words or terms.
Perhaps the most common of terms in a divorce where custody is at issue is the “best interests” standard; this standard applies to all paternity and divorce cases that involve children. A trial court is charged to look out for the best interests of children. In other words, a trial court will not enter an order as to child custody, parenting time, or support or modify such orders unless it is in the children’s best interests.
Unlike division of marital property, a trial court may modify child-related matters until a child is of the age or majority (and beyond as it relates to higher educational expenses). Nevertheless, many factors relating to a child’s best interests are not readily apparent. For this reason, skilled legal counsel can help you present the evidence to demonstrate to the court why any given agreement or dispute is best decided your way.
In original divorce cases (as opposed to seeking to modify child-related issues later), the trial court may “bifurcate” (or split) the issues. For instance, the trial court may divorce the parties and decide property division and/or custody issues at a later time. This is sometimes utilized when the parties desire to be divorced, even if custody and property issues remain to be addressed at a later time.
This demonstrates the vast array of tools available under the Indiana Divorce Act to provide judges/courts with the authority to serve the needs of those that come before it. As there are thousands of such laws, a skilled lawyer is your best way to navigate your legal matter to attempt to obtain the legal objective, which may range from custody modification to a deviation in how the court divides the property.
Finally, children come with a proverbial price tag, and how much money each parent should pay toward their support in a paternity or divorce case is determined by application of the Indiana Child Support Rules and Guidelines. One common question that comes up is with irregular income, such as “bonuses.”
The starting point is all income is included within the definition of gross weekly income, even bonuses. But these Rules and Guidelines have flexibility and can be used by the parties to argue and present to the court how such should be paid without financially punitive consequences by the payor; yearly bonuses may be dealt with over the course of a year or by a percentage of bonus received.
Getting divorced, establishing a child’s best interests, as well as child support is fact sensitive. However, the Supreme Court’s Rules and Guidelines, statutes and cases provide almost unlimited possibilities on how to present the evidence and how a trial court may review it. A skilled advocate can help you navigate these waters. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys handle domestic cases of all types throughout Indiana an on appeal. This blog is provided for general educational purposes and is not a solicitation for specific representation.