Practice Areas

Divorce

Divorce is the end of one journey and the beginning of another. It is a very difficult time of change and transition that will affect you and those dear to you on many levels. For some, a divorce is the most difficult event they will ever experience. With great pride and diligence, I will guide you through this difficult process, help you identify your legal interests, and vigorously defend them. In a divorce without children, the primary issues are (1) the division of personal property and real estate; (2) the classification and division of debt; and, (3) the determination of whether spousal support is owed. When your divorce also involves a child, a number of additional issues arise, such as custody, parenting time, child support, transportation, cost of insurance, cost of extracurricular activities, medical expenses, counseling, and so on.

Paternity Action

Paternity actions are more and more common today with the increasing number of couples choosing not to marry. When a child is born out of wedlock, either parent may want to pursue a paternity action to determine the child’s biological father. Paternity actions are undertaken with the ultimate aim of settling child custody rights, parenting time, child support, and so on.

Legal Separation

A legal separation is one option for couples who are having marital difficulties but who are not yet prepared to legally end their marriage. Separation proceedings are very similar to those involved in divorce, with the exception that in Indiana legal separation lasts only up to twelve months. This twelve month period puts the marriage in a legal holding pattern and gives the couple an opportunity to step back and evaluate their marriage before committing to dissolving it. If the couple decides not to reconcile, the legal separation can be legally converted into a divorce.

Custody

Custody is one of the most important aspects of divorce for most couples. This issue is often one of major conflicts between parents and can cause a great deal of anger and bitterness. When determining custody, the courts base their rulings on the facts presented and are guided by what is known as the best interests of the child standard, a standard that puts the well-being of the child front and center. The courts decide two distinctive aspects of custody: Legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody decisions determine who will have the legal authority to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing (for example, their education, religion, medical treatment, and so on), while physical custody refers to how parenting time with the child will be divided between each parent.

Child Support

Child support is an ongoing payment of funds used to satisfy the child’s needs just as would have happened had the parents not divorced. Each parent is legally responsible for providing financially for their children. Child support is not optional. Courts determine how much support a child receives based on the incomes of the parents and the cost of work-related child care and health insurance. Typically, the non-custodial parent transfers financial support for the child through the county clerk or the state’s child support office. The custodial parent, in turn, receives the financial support and acts as a trustee in administering the funds on the child’s behalf and solely for the child’s benefit.

Emancipation

Parental child support obligations end when a child is determined to be emancipated, that is, a legal adult. The determination requires a number of factors to be in place in accordance with the statute. Once a child meets the requirements for emancipation, a parent may petition the court to stop the child support order, thus ending their requirement to pay support. Parenting Time (Visitation)

Time with your child is a precious commodity, thus making the division of visitation rights a highly contested issue. As with custody determinations, courts decide visitation disputes based upon the best interests of the child. Children have a very limited understanding of divorce and can be easily and significantly harmed by the changes going on around them. First and foremost, therefore, courts want to minimize the harms that the child suffers and to protect their interests. Parenting time can be divided up in many different ways, however, a large majority of parents chose, or the court orders, the standard visitation schedule per the child’s age as set out in the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines is a great tool for all parents. The guidelines set out the parenting time schedule and the rights of each parent in pursuit of lowering confusion and conflict. Remember, conflict is not healthy for your child.

Modification

Life is dynamic and constantly changing which often creates the need to request a modification of existing court orders or agreements. When parties work together amicably they can simply agree to make the changes needed to accommodate changing circumstances. However, when no agreement is reached, the parties must mediate or litigate their requested changes. Typical modification requests deal with child support, parenting time, relocation, pick-up and drop-off locations, and so on.

Contempt

When a party fails to comply with court orders or court-approved agreements, the court can find a party in contempt of court. The judge may order sanctions, such as the payment of attorney’s fees, other costs, incarceration, suspension of driver’s license, and more, depending on what the party has failed to do. Therefore, it is always in your interest to follow court orders and agreements and to seek an attorney should you desire modifications.

Protective Orders

In general, protective orders enter the family law area due to ongoing domestic violence. The most common protective orders restrain a party from harassing, stalking, or contacting the complaining party, and it may also restrict one’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

Prenuptial Agreements

Before getting married, some couples choose to enter into an agreement regarding current and future ownership of their property. Such prenuptial agreements lay out the ownership and rights of property and debt during the marriage, and, most importantly, how they will divide the property and debt acquired both before and after the marriage in the event of a divorce. Such agreements can help remove some of the conflicts that often arise when a marriage fails. However, prenuptial agreements do not address child custody and support issues.

Grandparent’s Rights

Indiana has recognized the value of the relationship between a grandparent and a grandchild. In specific cases, grandparents may seek visitation with a grandchild. As with all situations that deal with physical access to a child, the court decides the visitation rights of grandparents based upon the facts of the case using the best interests of the child standard.

Name Change

In the state of Indiana, an adult or an adult on behalf of a child may request a name change. There are certain steps that must be taken before a judge will change your name or that of your child. The most common reasons for a name change are in cases where a battered woman and her children must be protected from a violent ex-partner; where paternity has been established; when a woman decides that she no longer wants to use her ex-partner’s surname; and so on.

Pro se (Self-Representation) Assistance

Due to the downturn in the economy and the costs associated with full legal representation, an increasing number of people have chosen to represent themselves in court. Those who do so are called pro se litigants. I assist pro se litigants through the complex processes of the judicial system. Having an attorney to decipher, explain, draft, and prepare legal pleadings improves a pro se litigant’s chances of success in court.

Mediation/Certified Mediator
Mediation is a good alternative to expensive and lengthy divorce litigation, which can continue for months and/or sometimes years, often resulting in unnecessary conflict, bitterness, uncertainty, and attorney fees. As a family law attorney with ten years of experience, I can assist you in your mediation to solve your preliminary or final settlement issues.

Mediation is a confidential process that allows couples to amicably resolve their issues by reaching a mutually satisfactory agreement without having to go to court. People tend to be happier with an outcome when it is arrived at through mutual agreement rather than imposed upon them by court order. With the help of a neutral mediator, the parties in mediation are more likely to address and resolve their problems (such as the division of property and debt, spousal support issues, and childrearing responsibilities) in a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect.

Mediation typically takes place at the office of a certified mediator. During mediation sessions, the parties in mediation can be in the same room, or, when appropriate and necessary, they can be in separate rooms. The mediator goes back and forth between the parties with offers and counter-offers. The parties may mediate with or without an attorney present, but it is important to remember that mediators cannot give legal advice.

I am a certified family law mediatory. I will mediate your preliminary and/or final settlement issues. I will travel to your attorney’s office to mediate, or, I can mediate your case at my office if you do not require separate rooms. Separate rooms are recommended when there has been a history of domestic abuse, control, and/or bullying in the relationship. My rates are very reasonable. If you would like more information or to set up a mediation, give me a call.

Why you should

Trust Michelle Gregory

  • More than 14 years of legal experience on Matrimonial Law.
  • Empathize with clients.
  • Has the knowledge, skills and real life experience to resolve complex issues that clients go through.
  • Doesn't make unreasonable promises about your case.
Law firm

Information

H. Michelle Gregory LLC H. Michelle Gregory, BA, MA, JD

"Protecting What Matters... Family!"

Address: 101 W. Kirkwood Ave. #006A,
Bloomington, Indiana 47404
Phone: (812) 339-3600
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Hours: (Other hours available by appointment)
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