Written by attorney Jeffery Michael Haupt

Understanding Division of Marital Assets Under Indiana Law

When you file for a divorce, one of the many things that the Court has to do is divide the marital estate.

What is the marital estate?

The marital estate for an easy to understand definition is more or less property owned by Husband and Wife at the time they file for a final dissolution. It doesn't necessarily have to be property that is in both parties' names, nor does it have to be an asset. Debts are part of the marital estate as well.

Indiana Code 31-15-7-4 defines property of the marital estate as any of the following:

...the property of the parties, whether: (1) owned by either spouse before the marriage; (2) acquired by either spouse in his or her own right: (A) after the marriage; and (B) before final separation of the parties; or (3) acquired by their joint efforts.

Presumption of Equal Division of the Marital Estate

Indiana Code 31-15-7-5 provides that the marital estate should be divided in an equitable fashion. This does not mean that there is always an equal 50/50 division of property:

However, this presumption may be rebutted by a party who presents relevant evidence, including evidence concerning the following factors, that an equal division would not be just and reasonable: (1) The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the property, regardless of whether the contribution was income producing. (2) The extent to which the property was acquired by each spouse: (A) before the marriage; or (B) through inheritance or gift. (3) The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the disposition of the property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family residence or the right to dwell in the family residence for such periods as the court considers just to the spouse having custody of any children. (4) The conduct of the parties during the marriage as related to the disposition or dissipation of their property. (5) The earnings or earning ability of the parties as related to: (A) a final division of property; and (B) a final determination of the property rights of the parties.

There is actually quite a bit of room to work in determining whether or not something has to be part of the marital estate due to how the property was acquired, length of marriage, financial standing of either parties, etc.

It is best if you talk to a lawyer if you have questions about how your property will be divided during the course of a divorce.

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