It's understandable that more thought goes into having the perfect place settings on the dinner tables for your wedding than which one of you gets the dining room table you bought together a few months after. After all, who wants to think about how their things will be divided in a divorce before the wedding even happens?
If you're in one of the many states - like Indiana - that doesn't recognize community property, a judge could decide who gets that dining room table, along with any other property you acquired during your marriage. How do courts choose who gets what? Here's a brief overview of marital property laws in Indiana.
Defining Marital and Separate Property
In many states, most of the property you buy or receive while you're married becomes marital property, regardless of whose name is on the title. Marital property is owned by both of you and will get divided should you get divorced. On the other hand, separate property is property one spouse owns before the marriage and isn't subject to division in a divorce. If a spouse receives property via inheritance or a gift during the marriage, it's normally considered separate property as well. This is not how property is designated in a divorce in Indiana, however.
Property Division in Indiana
Even though Indiana law doesn't recognize community property, it does require courts to determine an "equitable property division." More specifically, property is divided in a "just and reasonable" manner. In most cases, this means that each spouse gets about half of everything they own. However, a court could decide that it's fair to have an unequal property split. Generally, this could occur if one spouse wasted the marital property, one spouse was the source of the property (i.e., inherited property), or if one person has a greater need for the property. In some cases, the spouse who gets more of the property also takes on more of the shared debt.
Overview of Indiana Marital Property Laws
Statutory language is rarely written in a clear and straightforward manner, which is why reading an overview of the law can be very helpful. In the following table, you'll find a brief overview of marital property laws in Indiana as well as links to applicable statutes.
Indiana Code, Title 31, Section 31-15-7-0.2, et seq. (Disposition of Property and Maintenance)
|Community Property Recognized?
|How Property is Divided in Indiana
The court will presume that equal division of marital property is just and reasonable, but a party can rebut this presumption if they present relevant evidence that equal division would not be just and reasonable. The factors that would help rebut this presumption include:
- The contribution (whether income or otherwise) of each spouse in acquiring property;
- The extent to which the property was acquired by each spouse before the marriage or through gift or inheritance;
- Each spouse's economic circumstances when the disposition of property will be effective;
- Each party's conduct during the marriage as related to the disposition of their property; and
- Each party's earnings/earning ability as related to a final division of property and a final determination of the parties' property rights.
|Dower and Curtesy
Dower and curtesy abolished as per Section 29-1-2-11.
Indiana Code, Title 31:
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Indiana Marital Property Laws: Related Resources
Learn How Indiana Marital Property Laws Apply to You: Speak to a Lawyer
While people rarely think about marital property unless they're getting divorced, it's a good idea to know how they apply to you upon marriage. To learn how Indiana marital property laws apply to your unique situation, it's a good idea to speak with an experienced family law attorney near you.