Thursday, June 14, 2012

What is Marital Property?

A common question from individuals involved in a divorce case (or contemplating filing) concerns what property, assets and liabilities are considered part of the marital estate.  The quick answer to that question is assets and liabilities accrued from the date of marriage to the date of the filing of Petition for Dissolution can and likely will be considered divisible between the parties.
As with many areas of family law, there is no bright line test for this evaluation and there are exceptions to the quick answer rule.  For instance, assets or funds inherited by one spouse during the marriage may be removed from the valuation of the marital estate.  If the benefactor wanted to bequeath the funds on both parties, provisions certainly could have been made to do so.  If that did not occur, then the funds will likely be deemed to be solely the beneficiary’s property.
In addition, property that was owned or accumulated prior to the marriage can be considered separate property.  For instance, the balance on a 401(k) as of the date of marriage can be argued to belong to the individual who accumulated the funds.  If the balance was $10,000 as of the date of marriage and is $30,000 as of the date of filing, then it may be argued that only $20,000 should be considered as part of the marital estate.
The examples discussed are just a few of many potential variables to consider when valuing a marital estate and it is important to consult an attorney if you have questions concerning what you may or may not be entitled to in the event of divorce.  The linked article goes to a brief, but good discussion, on factors that could play a role in your case.
At Hollingsworth& Zivitz, P.C., our team has the experience, the understanding, and the compassion to assist with your family law needs. If you have questions or concerns regarding divorce, custody, support, or any other family law concerns contact our firm at 317.569.2200 or

Friday, June 1, 2012

Payment of a Child's College Expenses Post Dissolution

Let’s face it- college is expensive. If you are divorced or considering a divorce and have children who are planning on attending college, you may have questions regarding post-secondary educational expenses.

The Court has the discretion to award post-secondary educational expenses and determine the amount or percentage each party and the child(ren) are responsible for.  In making this determination, the Court considers post-secondary education to be a group effort and looks at the ability of each parent to contribute to the expenses as well as the student’s ability to contribute to the expenses.
The Court looks at several factors when determining how much each party and the student must contribute.  For example, the court looks at each of the parties’ incomes and overall financial condition of the parents and the student, educational gifts, education trust funds, and any other education savings program.  The Court also takes into account scholarships, grants, student loans, and other cost-reducing programs available to the student.
Generally, a Court’s considers “educational expenses” to include tuition, books, lab fees, supplies, and student activity fees.  Room and board will also be included when the student resides on campus or otherwise is not with the custodial parent.  Typically, a Court will not require parties to contribute amounts in excess of what it would cost to send their child to an in-state public university for four-years.  However, as we often note in family law issues, parents and their children are able to reach agreements specific to the individual needs and circumstances.
If you are considering a divorce or currently face a divorce and have children who are planning on attending college, it is a good idea to discuss your situation with a Hollingsworth & Zivitz, PC family law attorney. Hollingsworth & Zivitz, PC serves clients in the greater Indianapolis area including Carmel, Fishers, Westfield, Noblesville, and Hamilton County, as well as Zionsville, Avon, Brownsburg, and the counties surrounding Marion County.
To discuss your divorce or family law issue with a Hollingsworth & Zivitz, PC attorney, call 317.DIVORCE or click here to contact us online.