Paula J. Schaefer – Featured Spotlight Article

Look who is featured in the spotlight article of the Meridian Kessler magazine this month!

Meridian Kessler PJS spotlight article Sept 2017

Meridian Kessler PJS spotlight article Sept 2017

Ruppert & Schaefer, P.C. represents clients in the Indianapolis and Central Indiana area. Give us a call at (317) 580-9295 with any family law questions. Your future is our concern.


Introducing Partner Paula J. Schaefer

Paula Attorney

1. How long have you been with the practice?  Mike Ruppert & I started the practice in 1996.  Before that, I was his employee and began working with him in 1993.
2. What is your hobby?  I love to craft.  I’m not ready to sell anything on Etsy, but I enjoy making things.  My specialty areas are crochet, card-making and scrapbooking.
3. What do you do when you are not working?  Spend time with my husband and two children.  I’m involved with various activities and programs at my church, also.
4. What is your favorite place to vacation?  Any place with sun and water.  This summer we are headed to Lake Cumberland in Kentucky.  It’s great to get away to a quiet location with the family and spend some time on the water.
5. Do you have any pets?  Yes.  An adorable, flopsy goldendoodle named Leo.
6. What is your favorite sport to watch?   I’m a lifelong Hoosier – basketball!
7. What book are you currently reading?  I vowed to catch up on the classics when my son started high school, so I’m reading books that he is required to read. Currently, I’m reading Lord of the Flies.
8. What is your favorite local eatery?  I love Byrne’s Pizza.  Great salads and I can’t get enough of their grilled pizza!
9. If you could be anyone for one day, who would it be?  Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
10. What do you like most about being a lawyer working in a law firm?  I love having smart, wise people around me to bounce ideas around.  Also, being a family law attorney is stressful, so it’s great to be able to work with people who make me laugh and have a good sense of humor.

If you would like to consult with Paula, or another attorney at Ruppert & Schaefer, P.C. please call (317) 580-9295. Your future is our concern.

Introducing Paralegal Shannon Kenney

Shannon Paralegal

  1.  How long have you been with the practice?  4 1/2 years.
  2.  What do you do when you are not working?  I have a second job at The Disney  Store, I volunteer as a GAL for Hamilton County, and I spend time with family and  friends.
  3.  Where is your favorite place to vacation? Florida!
  4.  Do you have any pets? Two dogs and one cat.
  5.  What’s your favorite sport to watch?  Baseball in the summer, football in the  winter.
  6.  What’s the best book (or movie/TV show) you’ve read (watched) lately? The Handmaid’s Tale.
  7.  What’s your favorite local eatery?  Bru Burger.
  8.  Who would you play in a movie?  According to a client: “I am thinking Shannon should be played by Debra Winger for sure.  She always plays those strong roles where she stands her ground and never takes no for an answer.”
  9.  What do you like most about being a lawyer/paralegal/working in a law firm?  No two days are alike:  I’m never bored!  Every case and every client is different.  Helping clients:  being a paralegal gives me the opportunity to help others, many of them when they are suffering through one of the most difficult experiences of their lives.  It’s very rewarding to help someone through a difficult process and see that I truly made a difference.

Ruppert & Schaefer, P.C. represents clients in the Indianapolis and Central Indiana area. Give us a call at (317) 580-9295 with any family law questions. Your future is our concern.

Introducing Partner Lainie A. Hurwitz

Lainie A. Hurwitz PARTNER

  1.  How would you describe yourself?  Hard working, compassionate, caring, sensitive, reliable, a bit obsessive, funny.
  2.  What do you do when not working?  Spend time with family and exercise.
  3.  How long have you been with the firm?  Almost 12 years!
  4.  Where’s your favorite place to vacation?  Anywhere warm, with a good view/ocean.
  5.  Do you have any pets? One dog (Maggie), and one cat (Joey).
  6.  What’s your favorite sport to watch?  Basketball, hands down!
  7.  What’s the best book you’ve read lately?  “Me Before You”
  8.  What’s your favorite local eatery?  Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.
  9.  What’s your favorite TV show?  “This is Us”
  10.  What do you like most about being a lawyer?  Helping folks navigate their problems in the most cost-effective manner, while helping them minimize future issues that could arise by “teaching” them how to handle future anticipated problems, in an effort to avoid litigation.  I really enjoy getting to know different clients, their families, and what they do for a living!

If you would like to consult with Lainie, or another attorney at Ruppert & Schaefer, P.C. please call (317) 580-9295. Your future is our concern.

Legal Separation vs. Divorce: Which option is right for you?

Clients contemplating divorce often have questions about legal separation.  Typically, they want to know how legal separation differs from divorce, and which option is best for them.  What should you know about the two?


Legal separation is, like a divorce proceeding, a legal proceeding that formally separates you from your spouse. To grant a legal separation, an Indiana Court must find that conditions in the marriage are currently so intolerable that the couple cannot live together, but the marriage itself should nevertheless be maintained. A legal separation is not required before filing for divorce in Indiana.

During a legal separation, you may reach an agreement or obtain court orders that set forth what both spouses will do during the period of legal separation, addressing matters such as custody, parenting time, child support, and financial issues related to the marriage.  Any orders or agreements entered during a legal separation end when the legal separation ends.  A legal separation can last up to one year.  After one year, you will need to decide if you want to get a divorce or reconcile with your spouse.  If you choose to proceed with divorce proceedings, your legal-separation case can be converted to a divorce proceeding.

By contrast, divorce proceedings, once complete, permanently terminate your marriage, and permanently divide your marital property.  During a divorce, you may also reach an agreement or obtain court orders regarding child-related issues, although those may be modified in the future. Divorce proceedings may, and often do, last more than one year.  If one spouse initiates divorce proceedings, the other spouse may not then petition the Court for legal separation.

Legal separation may be right for couples who are not certain they want to end the marriage, but nonetheless desire a trial separation.  The attorneys at Ruppert & Schaefer, P.C., are available to speak to you about which option is right for you. Call us at (317) 580-9295; your future is our concern.

What is a Certified Family Law Specialist?

You’re sitting in an office building, waiting to meet with an attorney about a family-law matter. While you wait, you notice various plaques and certificates on the walls. One catches your eye—Certified Family Law Specialist by the Family Law Certification Board.  What exactly is a Certified Family Law Specialist?


In Indiana, certification in family law is individual and voluntary. An attorney applying for certification must submit a detailed and comprehensive application that includes the following information:

  • Proof that the attorney has been practicing law for at least 5 years;
  • Proof that the attorney is of good character and reputation;
  • A full and complete legal work history;
  • A sufficient number of professional references who can attest to the attorney’s qualifications;
  • Substantial involvement (shown by meeting numerical quotas) in the field of family law, including practice in specific family-law areas; and
  • Sufficient continuing legal education in family law.

In addition to compiling the above information, the attorney must pass an examination prior to achieving certification. Certification in family law pertains to all aspects of family law, including divorce, taxation issues incident to family-law practice; contempt; enforcement proceedings; mediation and negotiation of family-law disputes; psychological and counseling aspects of family law; family law appellate practice; premarital agreements; non-marital domestic relationships; child custody; enforcement of child support; paternity; adoption; children in need of services (CHINS) cases; grandparents’ rights; and professional responsibility.

            A Certified Family Law Specialist is a consummate legal professional and a recognized expert in the field of family law.  Ruppert & Schaefer, P.C.’s founding partners, Michael G. Ruppert and Paula J. Schaefer, are Certified Family Law Specialists and are available to speak to you about your family-law issue at any time. Call us at (317) 580-9295; your future is our concern.

How to Pick the Right Divorce Lawyer

One of the most important decisions you can make in the divorce process is who your attorney will be.  For some, the divorce process can take many months or even years.  Having the right attorney to help you navigate the process can make all the difference. How, then, can you make the right choice?

Thumbs Up Computer Key Showing Approval And Being A Fan

1. Do your homework: Research, research, research. Talk to friends, family, and co-workers. Get online: many law firms now have attorney profiles, blogs, and social media accounts—check them out. Find out if the firm or attorney you’re looking at specializes in divorce or family law, or if they handle such cases routinely.

2. Ask questions and share information: When you’re ready, schedule a meeting with the attorney you’re considering hiring. While the attorney will certainly have many questions about your legal matter, you should have questions too.  How long has the attorney been practicing? Is this their area of expertise? How do they bill? Do they work with other attorneys? Do they have a paralegal? How do they typically handle a matter like yours? Ask the attorney how he or she views your legal matter. Is your position reasonable? How might a judge view a particular request? What might your spouse request in return? Where might there be conflicts? Share your priorities, and make sure you tell the attorney what matters to you with respect to your case.

3. Keep communicating: When you hire an attorney, they represent you and your interests. To enable your attorney to do their best work, you should be honest and open with him or her throughout the process. There will likely be times you feel upset or anxious about your case, and sometimes you will need to share your thoughts and feelings with your attorney or their staff so that you are on the same page.

Selecting the right attorney to assist you with your divorce is critical. Your attorney should be someone you trust, and ideally, someone with whom you can connect. The attorneys at Ruppert & Schaefer are available to meet with you to discuss your divorce or other family-law matter at any time.

Call us at (317) 580-9295; your future is our concern.

Appeals: What, When, Where and Why

So you’ve been to trial. You’ve received an order from the trial judge directing you to do (or perhaps not do) something. In the family-law context, the trial judge may have decided issues relating to custody, relocation, parenting time, child support, or marital property—just to name a few. What if you’re not happy with the result? What happens next?


In most circumstances, you have the option to appeal. If you choose to appeal, you must do so within thirty days. Appeals are handled by the Indiana Court of Appeals, which is based in downtown Indianapolis at the Statehouse. The Court of Appeals is comprised of 15 judges and they work in panels of three at a time.

Appeals are much different from trial-court cases. When you ask the Court of Appeals to review what the trial court has done, you do so by submitting written arguments. These written arguments are called “briefs,” and they are filled with legal argument and relevant legal authority. Occasionally, the Court of Appeals will hold oral argument in appeals with unique, complicated, or interesting facts; however, typically the Court rules on a party’s appeal by issuing a written decision, called an “opinion,” within a few weeks to a few months. If an appellate party is not happy with the opinion issued by the Court of Appeals, they may consider a petition to transfer, which is a request that the Indiana Supreme Court consider the appeal. Unlike the Court of Appeals, which hears all appeals, the Supreme Court has the option to select what cases it will hear.

The rules that govern the appellate process are complex and can be tricky to navigate. If you are considering an appeal, you should consult an attorney with appellate experience. The attorneys at Ruppert & Schaefer routinely handle appellate cases and are available to discuss this process with you at any time. Call us at (317) 580-9295; your future is our concern.

Do you need a premarital agreement? (Yes, you.)

Wedding planning is a flurry of happy activity. Your to-do list might include the following: venue, flowers, guest list, band, honeymoon. We suggest you add one more item to that list: premarital agreement.


Full disclosure: a lot of what we do at Ruppert & Schaefer involves divorce.  We hope you never need assistance with the divorce process.  But if you ever found yourself in our office, “do you have a premarital agreement?” is one of the first things we’d ask.  That question is often met with surprise.  Premarital agreements—sometimes referred to as “prenups”—are still viewed by many as a tool for the rich.  In reality, a premarital agreement can benefit nearly anyone by fixing property rights well in advance of a divorce, should one occur in the future.

A little background.  Indiana is a “one pot” or “marital pot” state.  This means that in the absence of a prenuptial agreement, all property that either spouse owns at the time someone files for divorce is considered marital property.  This is true regardless of how the property is titled or even how it was obtained. Pre-marital property, business interests, gifts, inheritances, and even individual debts such as student loans are all considered marital property subject to division. Indiana courts recognize a rebuttable presumption that all marital property—both assets and debts—should be divided equally between divorcing spouses.

Generally speaking, there’s no way to know what property might be amassed during a marriage, but one’s future plans may warrant consideration of a premarital agreement. A few simple examples show why this is so: future wife has just opened her own business and wishes to prevent her ownership interest from being treated as marital property in the event of divorce. In another instance, two partners intend to start a business together, but wish to predetermine what percentage of ownership each will have in the event that they later divorce. In yet another case, future husband stands to one day inherit an ownership interest in the family business, and the family wishes to prevent that interest from being divided or transferred to a non-family member in the event of divorce. None of these examples suggest that the future spouses have vast fortunes to protect, yet a premarital agreement would clearly be advantageous in each.

If you are contemplating marriage, we strongly recommend you consider a premarital agreement. A well-drafted premarital agreement can give you peace of mind by anticipating and disposing of many issues that would arise in the event of divorce—leaving you with plenty of free time to tackle the rest of that wedding planning!

If you would like to consult with the attorneys at Ruppert & Schaefer, P.C. to learn more about a premarital agreement, please call (317) 580-9295. Your future is our concern.