In many Indiana marriages, the couple chooses to have one spouse stay home with the children or work part-time, while the other spouse works full-time outside of the home. While both spouses are working and contributing to the household, they may not be earning the same amount of income. If the couple gets a divorce, the stay-at-home spouse or the spouse who does not earn as much money as their partner may not be able to keep up with the lifestyle they became accustomed to during the marriage.
In Indiana, courts may award spousal maintenance to divorcing spouses. The purpose of spousal maintenance is to provide the spouse who earns less money financial support until they can become more financially independent. The higher-earning spouse will pay the lesser-earning spouse a pre-determined amount each month.
Generally, there are very limited and specific types of spousal support available in Indiana, including:
- Rehabilitative spousal maintenance: Awarded to a spouse to give them time to acquire the education or training they need to re-enter the work force or get a better paying job to support themselves. This support generally can last up to three years following the divorce but can vary depending on the circumstances.
- Caretaker spousal maintenance: Awarded to a spouse who is unable to work due to being a caretaker for a child with a mental or physical disability. Support will last for as long as the parent is providing care.
- Spousal maintenance for incapacitated spouse: Awarded to a spouse who cannot work due to a mental or physical disability. Support can be awarded temporarily until the spouse is no longer incapacitated, but it can also be awarded on a permanent basis.
Under all three different types of spousal maintenance, said maintenance orders can be issued on a temporary basis (i.e., while the divorce is pending up until the divorce is finalized) and could continue past the divorce, depending on the circumstances. Spousal maintenance is a key part of family law, as it can help a lesser earning spouse become financially independent after losing access to their former spouse’s income in the divorce.