- September 29, 2023
- CLLB Law
Divorce is one of life’s greatest stressors, and the process can often seem confusing and complicated, especially if there are issues such as shared children, homes, and assets involved or grounds for contention. Even if you and your spouse agree on most issues, you need to ensure that everything is done in accordance with Indiana law, including meeting residency requirements, filling out and filing required forms, and dealing with issues and working out any problems that may arise during the process.
While it is important to know how to file for divorce, making mistakes in the process can be costly and prevent your divorce from being finalized in a timely manner. That is why it can be helpful to consult with an experienced divorce attorney to make sure everything is done properly.
Steps in the Indiana Divorce Process
The following are steps you must take to successfully file for divorce in Indiana:
Determine if you meet residency requirements
Indiana has both state and county residency requirements for filing for divorce. Either you or your spouse must have been a resident of Indiana (or have lived on an Indiana military base) for six months prior to filing, and you must be a resident of the county where you intend to file (or stationed on a military base in that county) for three months before filing.
Determine if you want a no-fault or fault-based divorce
Most divorces in Indiana are no-fault, which are less complicated and faster than fault-based divorces. Under Indiana law (Indiana Code § 31-15-2-3), there are only a few specific causes for fault-based divorces. These are:
- Felony conviction after marriage
- Impotence that existed at the time of the marriage
- Incurable insanity for at least two years.
If your Indiana divorce is uncontested and no-fault, it may be resolved quickly through summary dissolution at least 60 days after the initial petition for a for a no-fault and agreed-upon divorce was filed. This means both parties must state that there are no contested issues or provide a written and signed settlement agreement and waive the final hearing.
In situations where you disagree on any issues, the divorce becomes a contested one and will require litigation to resolve any outstanding issues.
File a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
Either spouse may file a petition for dissolution of marriage, preferably in the county in which they reside. Indiana law (Indiana Code § 31-15-2-5) requires that the petition include information such as:
- The state and county where each spouse resides and for how long
- The date of marriage and the date the parties separated
- The names and birth dates of birth of children who are less than 18 years old or who are incapacitated
- The grounds for dissolving the marriage, if any
- The request to terminate the marriage
Serve your spouse with the petition
The spouse who files the petition (the petitioner) must send or serve the petition on the other spouse (the respondent). You may do this formally by sending the petition and a summons by certified mail or through a process server, or the respondent spouse may sign a document acknowledging receipt of the petition.
Make sure all issues are resolved
Before the divorce to be granted, there are many issues that must be resolved. These include:
In Indiana, all assets and property owned by either spouse, whether individually or together, are initially considered to be marital property and will be divided in the divorce. According to Indiana law (Ind. Code § 31-15-7-4), marital property includes property . . .
(1) owned by either spouse before the marriage
(2) acquired by either spouse during the marriage and before final separation
(3) acquired by the spouses’ joint efforts.
This means that in Indiana, the only property not subject to distribution in divorce is property either spouse individually acquired on their own after they filed for divorce or legal separation. While judges often give consideration to whether the property was acquired before marriage or was received during the marriage as a gift or inheritance when determining who will get what, the court looks at all property when making a distribution that it deems fair and equitable. In addition, the courts will consider factors such as each spouse’s contribution to the marriage through both income and non-income-producing efforts and the economic circumstances of each spouse after division of assets and debts.
Determining spousal maintenance
Spousal maintenance, which is financial support of one spouse by the other after divorce, can be awarded in only three circumstances:
- The spouse is physically or mentally incapacitated and cannot support themselves.
- The spouse cannot support themselves and is the caregiver to an incapacitated child.
- The spouse had their education, training, or employment interrupted as a result of childcare responsibilities, homemaking responsibilities, or both.
In the third situation, spousal maintenance cannot last longer than three years.
Determining child custody and support
Indiana bases child custody and support on what is considered to be the best interests of the child. Custody, or parenting time, can be based on the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines or on an agreement between parents. The court may determine parenting time by weighing factors such as the age and health of the child, the child’s adjustments with home, school, and community, and the child’s relationships with parents, siblings, grandparents, etc.
For child support, the courts use tables to estimate the monthly cost of raising the children, and the non-custodial parent pays a percentage based on a proportional share of the pooled income of both parents after filing a child support obligation worksheet (CSOW).
Indiana does not allow custodial parents to interfere with visitation and does not permit denial of visitation for failure to pay child support.
Get Help from Our Indiana Divorce Attorneys
While the minimum period of time required for an Indiana divorce is 60 days from the date of filing the petition for dissolution to the date of the final decree dissolving the marriage, most divorces, especially when there are disagreements, take much longer. To get the resolution you desire in the shortest period of time, it can help to have an experienced divorce attorney advocate for your interests and your rights.
The skilled and compassionate Indiana family law attorneys at LLC know that filing correctly and taking the appropriate steps from the start will lead to the best outcome for you and your children. Let us help you meet the challenges of divorce, make sure everything is done properly, protect your assets, and help you through this difficult period.
Do not delay. For skilled and knowledgeable representation regarding any divorce issues, call us today for a consultation.
GET HELP NOW 812-725-8226
Based in New Albany, Indiana, we proudly serve communities throughout Kentuckiana; Floyd County, IN; and Clark County, IN.