After filing for divorce, people often experience financial trouble. It can be brought on by many things that come with the divorce process: having to find a new home, paying for the legal fees that go with the divorce, losing the other spouse’s income, or simply the emotional trauma the divorce brings. Courts recognize that all these factors create a financial hardship for many people, and they recognize that the separation period between the filing of divorce to the finalization of divorce can be long and drawn out, potentially exacerbating any financial troubles. To help with this, Indiana courts allow spouses going through divorce to petition for “provisional spousal maintenance.”
Provisional spousal maintenance is a temporary court order. It lasts until the divorce is finalized. Courts have wide discretion when it comes to granting provisional spousal maintenance. Under the Indiana Code, § 31-15-4-8, the Court may order provisional spousal maintenance when it is “just and proper,” considering the “totality of the circumstances” in the matter. When a court considers the totality of circumstances in a case like this, it considers the standard of living that was established in the marriage, the duration of the marriage, the ability of the spouse to provide for themselves and the other spouse, amongst other factors. Lowes v. Lowes, 650 N.E.2d 1171, 1174 (Ind. Ct. App. 1995).
When a court issues provisional spousal maintenance, the actual order can vary significantly. In some cases, it may be as simple as providing the other spouse with a specific amount of money each week or month until the divorce is final. In other cases, it may have conditions in addition to the order to provide money, such as agreeing not to sell any assets still held jointly or agreeing to communicate only in a certain way until the divorce is finalized. These orders are so diverse because the courts must consider all the factors in the situation, and therefore, flexibility in the order is necessary.
Provisional spousal support is not appropriate in every case. When both parties make roughly the same income or can support themselves equally well, it does not make sense to ask for provisional spousal support. However, for those who experience serious financial harm as the result of separating from a spouse, it is worth exploring the possibility of provisional spousal maintenance with your attorney.
Written by Rebecca Stevens under the supervision of Jon Rogers. Rebecca was a 2023 Summer Associate at May Oberfell Lorber and is a rising third-year law student at Michigan State Law School. Jon Rogers is a partner at May Oberfell Lorber with extensive Family & Domestic experience.
This article is for information purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice.