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No Fault Divorce in Indiana: How Does It Work and Do I Need a Lawyer to Represent Me?

Unlike fifty years ago, divorce is much more common today than it has ever been.  From both a cultural and social point of view, divorce is not only easier to obtain but is viewed with less stigma than it used to be in the days when it was rare to meet someone who had been divorced and this was something that a person would be ashamed of or even try to hide.  The law has changed to reflect this new reality in order to make divorce easier from both a procedural, financial and emotional perspective for a couple that no longer wants to stay married. This is particularly true in Indiana, which has a higher divorce rate according to U.S. Census Bureau data at 12.5% as compared with a national rate across the United States of 10.9%.  This means that 12.5% of adults aged 15 or older across the Hoosier State are divorced as compared with 10.9% of adults across the United States as a whole.  

There is now no-fault divorce as the rule in the majority of states in the United States, including in Indiana, instead of at-fault divorces where parties are required to prove that good cause exists for the divorce.  This old system required proving, for instance, that one spouse was or had been unfaithful to the other or had secretly drained joint bank accounts to finance a gambling addiction or some other similar sordid tale. Divorce used to be an expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally draining affair for couples that simply no longer wanted to be married to one another without having to explain why their relationship no longer worked in intimate detail to a strange judge who would then divide up the couple’s assets in an often arbitrary and punitive manner.  However, even though the process is now much less charged and adversarial than it used to be, it is nevertheless still important to have an experienced Indiana family law attorney in your corner to assist you through the divorce process in order to make sure that your interests are adequately protected. Given that divorce is a time when ownership of many joint assets that may have been accumulated over decades through the joint efforts of both spouses are divided up and responsibility for joint obligations like mortgages or student loans taken out in connection with paying a child’s college tuition are assigned, having an experienced family law attorney on your side will not only assist in making sure the process goes as smoothly as possible but will also ensure that you emerge from a tumultuous time in as good a position as can be expected.   David Frangos of Frangos Legal is an experienced Indiana family law attorney who has worked with clients in both the most difficult of divorces as well as more amicable proceedings to ensure their interests are protected every step along the way.  

What Are the Steps to a No-Fault Divorce in Indiana?

Obtaining a no-fault divorce in Indiana does not require proving that either spouse did something wrong, it instead merely requires that one of the spouses petition the court to advise the court that there has been an “irretrievable breakdown” of a marriage.  Once one spouse has filed a petition for a divorce, the court will hold a preliminary hearing on the petition, at which time the judge presiding over the divorce proceeding can and will issue temporary orders on issues like the disposition of property, visitation, child custody, and other related issues in order to get the ball rolling on the process of dissolving the couple’s marriage.  The parties must wait a minimum period of 60 days before a no-fault divorce becomes final. It can often take longer than 60 days to finalize even a no-fault divorce if there are issues remaining which need to be worked out by the parties (or their attorneys) on their own or that instead require judicial intervention in order to resolve. However, the parties are free to resolve all of the issues through a written agreement, which the court will then review and approve and finalize to end the divorce proceeding if the agreement adequately addresses all outstanding issues.

The court typically will divide a couple’s assets and debts on a 50-50 basis, but can divert from this general rule of thumb is there is good reason to do so, such as if one spouse incurred the debts on his or her own and did not have a good reason for doing so (such as a gambling debt or the like).  The parties to a no-fault divorce are permitted to come up with their own solutions to any issue, in particular, child custody, without court intervention, but the court will become involved if and when necessary. For example, if the soon to be ex-spouses cannot agree on a child custody and parenting plan, then the court will formulate a plan based on the best interests of the particular child.  In doing so, the court will look at factors such as the child’s wishes (if he or she is at least 14), the parents’ wishes, the age and sex of the child, etc.

Do I Still Need an Attorney To Represent Me in a No-Fault Divorce in Indiana?

The short answer is yes.  Simply because marriage is ending in a no-fault divorce proceeding does not mean that there are not still issues being contested or that will be contested between the spouses in the course of the divorce proceeding.  This is particularly true if there are significant assets owned by the couple which needs to be divided if only one spouse works, or there are children for whom custody and visitation arrangements will need to be finalized.  Having an experienced attorney on your side adds value to a divorce proceeding by ensuring that his or her client’s interests are protected in an arena in which a person can easily end up being taken advantage of or steamrolled by a more assertive spouse, particularly if that spouse has an aggressive attorney.

Divorces are incredibly emotionally charged proceedings in even the most ideal of circumstances and can have devastating financial consequences for the parties if not handled properly.  According to an April 2016 article from the Atlantic, women, in particular, see their income drop by 20% in the years after a divorce and the poverty rate for women in particular post-divorce tends to spike.  Therefore, even the most amicable break-up of a relationship is likely to become fraught with tension or break out in a fight when the issue of money, division of property and child custody and visitation arrangements come up.  In addition, issues also can arise during the pendency of the divorce proceeding itself even if the couple is cheerfully parting ways, such as if one spouse attempts to make unauthorized changes in the ownership of joint assets or use joint funds or savings in a way the other partner does not approve of.   In addition, the use of an attorney can also help to smooth the way in the negotiation and finalization of a written agreement that will end the proceedings if the parties agree to the material terms and wish to end their marriage through a written agreement rather than by orders entered by an unfamiliar judge.  

Contact Experienced Indiana Divorce and Family Attorney David Frangos Today if You Are In A Marriage that is Ending And You Need to Protect Your Interests

If you are having doubts about whether your marriage is going to last and are worried about the consequences of divorce and what could potentially be the outcome of divorce proceedings that you or your spouse have either talked about or are thinking about initiating, then you need to talk an experienced Indiana family lawyer as soon as possible. David Frangos of Frangos Legal is experienced in resolving some of the most challenging difficulties associated with divorce in Indiana, even if you are involved in a no-fault divorce, including child custody, the splitting of joint assets and other matters that routinely come up between even couples who are splitting up using the less adversarial process associated with a no-fault divorce.  A divorce is when someone is typically at his or her worst and David does his best as an experienced Indiana family lawyer to ensure that he is compassionate and empathetic throughout the process while also taking his professional and ethical responsibilities to zealously advocate for his clients seriously. If you are in need of an experienced Indiana divorce and family attorney, then contact David Frangos of Frangos Legal today for a Free Consultation and Case Review by emailing [email protected], by telephone at (317) 643-1345, or by booking online.

Expungement or Sealing of a Criminal Record under Indiana Law

Do you need assistance in having a criminal record expunged or access to it sealed in Indiana? Indiana law provides rights for the sealing or expungement of criminal conviction or arrest records in certain circumstances. Experienced Indiana criminal defense attorney David Frangos has represented many satisfied clients in Indianapolis and elsewhere in the Hoosier state in having their criminal or arrest records sealed or expunged.

It is imperative if you want to (i) have your Second Amendment Rights to a firearm restored, (ii) obtain and keep employment, (iii) improve your credit score, (iv) enjoy lower insurance rates and (v) even successfully rent a home, to ensure that any criminal record you may have is expunged or sealed if possible.  Therefore, if you are in need of an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you in doing so, contact attorney David Frangos of Frangos Legal, LLC today for a free consultation regarding your particular situation.

Who can access an expunged Criminal Record?

Sealing records related to a criminal arrest or conviction obscures information from being accessed by the majority of people, including the general public.  However, sealing documents about a criminal case or arrest means that the records still exist, but access to them is only available to a very small subset of authorized persons, such as criminal justice agencies like law enforcement or court personnel or, in certain limited circumstances, child services agencies like Child Protective Services.

Indiana Law Regarding Expungement and Sealing of Criminal Records

Under Indiana law, a person is eligible to have access to certain records related to a criminal conviction or arrest restricted or erased entirely.  The records can be expunged if (i) a person was not actually charged with a crime, (ii) the person did not actually commit a crime, or (iii) prosecutors determined there was no probable cause to charge the person with a crime.

Access to records about an arrest or conviction can be sealed in other instances, including where a person was found not guilty of the crime he or she was arrested for or charged with, if the person was convicted of a misdemeanor, or the person committed certain violent and non-violent felonies.  In each case, there are specific periods which must have passed before the person can seek to have the record sealed, typically based on the seriousness of the offense. As an example, if a person committed a felony which involved serious bodily harm to another individual, then he or she would need to wait for ten years to have passed before applying to have his or her record sealed, whereas someone who committed a non-violent felony would need to have waited eight years before applying for restricted access.  Someone who committed a misdemeanor would only need to wait 5 years before applying.

An individual typically must also not have committed any other offenses within the enumerated waiting period, completed any sentence or term of release relating to the original conviction and not have a suspended driver’s license to have his or her criminal record sealed.

Why Having Your Criminal Records Sealed or Expunged is so Important

One reason it is essential to have your Indiana criminal record sealed or expunged if possible are the consequences associated with such a record.  Your criminal record information is public record, accessible by anyone.  The criminal record can keep you from obtaining or keeping a job, keep you from being able to legally purchase firearms, can cause you to have a lower credit score or even higher insurance rates.  More importantly, a public criminal record will often cause you tremendous chronic stress.

Expunging or restricting access to a criminal record may reduce insurance rates, improve chances of employment, and even increase your credit score.  Today most employers will not make a job offer to a candidate before having performed a background check. However, under a law passed by the Indiana Legislature which became effective on July 1, 2013, known as Indiana’s Second Chance Law, it is illegal for an Indiana employer to refuse to hire or otherwise discriminate against anyone because of a sealed or expunged conviction or arrest record. Employers also cannot ask applicants or employees about sealed or expunged convictions.  A granted request to expunge a criminal record also allows you to legally state on an employment or housing application that you have not been convicted of a crime.

Having a criminal record expunged is also crucial because, in Indiana, your firearms rights are restored following an expungement.  The one exception to this rule is that, if you were convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony involving domestic violence, your firearm rights could not be restored through an expungement.  Seeking expungement may also help you to have your voting rights restored if you were previously convicted of a crime that is subsequently expunged.

Finally, merely having closure on the part of your past that you would rather forget is another reason that having your criminal record expunged or sealed is such an important step to take if you qualify.  Not having a former arrest or conviction hanging over your head, just waiting for someone to discover if you apply for a firearms license, a job, a mortgage, or a rental unit is better than being in a constant state of fear as to how the consequences of one mistake will haunt you for the rest of your life.

Contact Indiana Criminal Expungement Attorney David Frangos for a Free Consultation

Indiana criminal defense and expungement attorney David Frangos of Frangos Legal offers several different packages for those who are seeking expungement or sealing of a criminal record in Indiana.  David’s services are affordable, and he is well versed in the often complicated and time-consuming process of having your criminal record expunged or sealed under Indiana law.

Visit http://indianaexpungementlaw.com or David’s main website for more information regarding the process of having your criminal or arrest record sealed or expunged.  You can reach David Frangos of Frangos Legal by emailing [email protected], by telephone at (317) 643-1345, or by booking online.  With the initial consultation free, there is no reason not to contact David today!

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Adult Adoption

You can adopt an adult.  Why would you want to do that?

Answer; The reasons range from sentimental to practical.

The adoption of a minor child requires the consent of the child’s biological parent(s).  A biological parent may be unwilling to consent to such adoption for a myriad of reasons.  But, when the child turns 18 years old, they may petition the court to be adopted by an adult.  An example of a sentimental reason may be that the child has a close relationship with a stepparent or other adult in their life and desires to solidify that bond through an adoption.

Other situations can be for more practical reasons such as an adult child not being eligible for specific education or health benefits. An excellent example of this is a step-parents VA Disability Benefits, as they apply to Indiana’s college tuition deferment.  A Veteran’s stepchild is not eligible for such a benefit unless the adult child is adopted by the Veteran.  An adoption could amount to saving tens of thousands of dollars in college tuition.

There are many reasons for an adult to adopt another adult and fortunately, in Indiana, it is pretty straightforward.  Unlike other states, there’s no notice or consent requirement for biological parents.  Courts have the authority to grant the adoption petition “with the consent of the individual acknowledged in open court,” (I.C. 31-19-2-1).

Here is the current law;

IC 31-19-2-1 Adoption of adult; petition; venue; consent; investigation

Sec. 1.

(a) An individual who is at least eighteen (18) years of age may be adopted by a resident of Indiana:

(1) upon proper petition to the court having jurisdiction in probate matters in the county of residence of the individual or the petitioner for adoption; and

(2) with the consent of the individual acknowledged in open court.

(b) If the court in which a petition for adoption is filed under this section considers it necessary, the court may order:

(1) the type of investigation that is conducted in an adoption of a child who is less than eighteen (18) years of age; or

(2) any other inquiry that the court considers advisable; before granting the petition for adoption.

As added by P.L.1-1997, SEC.11.

Though the process is straightforward, you should consider the services of an attorney to assist you in navigating the legal system.  If you or somebody you know are considering an adult adoption, or want to learn more about the process, contact an attorney at Frangos Legal, LLC to assist you with the process.

Landlord, not tenant, responsible for insuring building in fire, COA says — The Indiana Lawyer

 

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the denial of a tenant’s motion for judgment against a landlord’s insurer after finding that the parties’ commercial leasing agreement unambiguously provided that the landlord would insure a building damaged in a fire.

via Landlord, not tenant, responsible for insuring building in fire, COA says — The Indiana Lawyer

Specialized Driving Privileges

IC 9-30-16-1

Posted on December 30, 2018 by David Frangos

Good News!

In the past, Indiana residents facing a suspension of driving privileges for offenses such as first time Drinking and Driving were required to petition the Court for an SDP hearing.  That petition may require the defendant to wait months for the SDP hearing to be set.  All while being unable to drive to work, church, and so on.  This caused undue hardship on many individuals and potentially cost the defendant’s their jobs.

However, beginning January 1, 2019, that all changes.  Indiana Code 9-30-16-1 will allow individuals who face a driving suspension to request, as early as their initial hearing, a stay of a suspension pending a petition for SDP.  

The Statute States;

(1) The court shall:

(A) stay the suspension of the person’s driving privileges at the initial hearing and shall not submit the probable cause affidavit related to the person’s offense to the bureau; and

(B) set the matter for a specialized driving privileges hearing not later than thirty (30) days after the initial hearing.

Limitation(s);

(2) If the person does not file a petition for a specialized driving privileges hearing not later than ten (10) days after the date of the initial hearing, the court shall lift the stay of the suspension of the person’s driving privileges and shall submit the probable cause affidavit related to the person’s offense to the bureau for automatic suspension.

(3) If the person files a petition for a specialized driving privileges hearing not later than ten (10) days after the initial hearing, the stay of the suspension of the person’s driving privileges continues until the matter is heard and a determination is made by the court at the specialized driving privileges hearing.


This is good news to defendant’s who have been wrongfully accused of a driving offense, or who have had a drivers license suspended for a minor infraction.

There are many aspects to accurately obtaining specialized driving privileges.  If you need help navigating the new law, and keeping yourself on the road, please contact us to find out how we can help!