Super Lawyers

Paula J. Schaefer and Michael G. Ruppert have been recognized as Super Lawyers for 12 consecutive years. #SuperLawyersIndianapolis


Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. This selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.

Paul J. Schaefer Super Lawyer

Michael G. Ruppert Super Lawyer

For a consultation with a lawyer at Ruppert & Schaefer, P.C., call 317.580.9295 or contact us online. Our firm represents clients in the Indianapolis and Central Indiana area.

Tax Changes and Your Family-law Matter

Taxes: they’ve been all over the news lately. Specifically, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Regardless of how you feel about the Act, you’re probably wondering how it will affect you in the future—particularly if you are in the midst of a divorce or are considering one.  The attorneys at Ruppert & Schaefer, while not tax advisors, want you to be aware of some major provisions in the Act that may affect you for the 2018 tax year and beyond:

Tax puzzle concept

Alimony will no longer be deductible: While Indiana law does not formally recognize the concept of alimony, alimony payments can be negotiated in certain circumstances.  For alimony payments required under divorce or separation instruments executed after Dec. 31, 2018, the Act eliminates the deduction for alimony payments. This means alimony will no longer be taxable income to those who receive it or tax deductible for those who pay it. This change won’t apply to existing divorces and separations, and special rules will apply to modifications of existing divorces and separations.

Increase to the Child Tax Credit: Through 2025, the Act increases the maximum child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000 per qualifying child, and the refundable portion of the credit increases from $1,000 to $1,400. The higher child tax credit will remain available for qualifying children under age 17.

New Credit for Non-Child Dependents: The Act has created a new $500 non-refundable credit for dependents who do not qualify for the child tax credit. Think children who are too old for the child tax credit and other non-child dependents.

Expansion of 529 College Savings Accounts: The Act expands 529 college savings accounts to allow parents to save for K-12 expenses. Now, educational expenses at all levels qualify for tax-free distributions, with certain annual limits.

More often than not, taxes come up in family-law matters. Make sure you’re aware of how some provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act could affect you. Call the attorneys at Ruppert & Schaefer, P.C., at (317) 580-9295; 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.

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.

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.

Collaborative Divorce: Right for You?

If you know a family law attorney, or if you know someone who has gone through a divorce recently, you may have heard the phrase “collaborative divorce.”  Believe it or not, there is such a thing, and it’s gaining traction around the country. Here are some of the most common questions the attorneys at Ruppert & Schaefer, P.C., receive about collaborative divorce:


  1. What does collaborative divorce entail? The short answer is that in a collaborative divorce, the parties and attorneys make a promise that they will not go to court; rather, they will work together with their attorneys (and sometimes other professionals such as therapists or financial advisors) in series of meetings to civilly resolve all the issues. The parties and attorneys sign a collaborative agreement which memorializes this pledge. If, for some reason, this is not possible, and one or both parties choose to go to court, the parties must find new attorneys to represent them.
  1. Who should consider collaborative divorce? There is no one right answer to this question; however, you might consider collaborative divorce if you desire some or all of the following:
  • to avoid court intervention;
  • to achieve a civil resolution;
  • to maintain an amicable relationship with your former spouse;
  • to amicably co-parent with your former spouse; and
  • maintain privacy, autonomy, and control in personal matters like those that arise in divorce.

The overall goal of collaborative divorce is to bring the parties and attorneys together so that creative, respectful, and collective problem solving can occur.

  1. Do I need an attorney who is trained to practice collaborative divorce?  To be able to represent a client in a collaborative law divorce, the attorney must have received training in the collaborative process.   A collaboratively trained attorney understands the goals of the collaborative-divorce process, knows how to work with other team members to effectuate those goals, and can make sure the client understands and feels comfortable with the process at each stage.

Attorneys Paula Schaefer and Lainie Hurwitz of Ruppert & Schaefer, P.C., are trained collaborative attorneys and are available to discuss this process with you at any time. Call us at (317) 580-9295; your future is our concern.

Grandparent Visitation in Indiana

As a grandparent, do I have the right to see my grandchild? Attorneys are often asked this question. In Indiana, the legal response is maybe.


Under certain circumstances, a grandparent residing in Indiana can petition a court for something called “grandparent visitation.” If one of the following is true, grandparent visitation may be appropriate:

  1. The grandchild’s parent is dead;
  2. The marriage of the grandchild’s parents has been dissolved (in other words, they are divorced); or
  3. The child was born outside of marriage. However, paternal grandparents of a child born outside of marriage can ask for grandparent visitation only if paternity has been established.

Although Indiana law permits grandparent visitation in certain circumstances, that right is limited by the United States Supreme case of Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000). Troxel emphasized the presumption that a fit parent acts in the best interests of their child, and so long as the parent is fit, a state has no grounds to question the parent’s decisions for raising their child—including decisions made about contact between that child and their grandparents.  However, where a parent is unfit, or where the parent has made a decision that is not in their child’s best interests, a trial court may grant a request for grandparent visitation.

The appropriateness of grandparent visitation is a fact-sensitive inquiry, and the facts of each case are unique. The attorneys at Ruppert & Schaefer regularly handle grandparent visitation cases and are available to discuss your situation. Call us to schedule a consultation at (317) 580-9295, your future is our concern.