Everyone knows someone—a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor—who’s gone through a nightmare divorce. The time, energy, emotions, and money spent on a divorce process are overwhelming. Your best friends and co-workers, who have personally gone through his process, may try to help you by giving you a lot of unsolicited advice. It is important to keep in mind that divorce is very personal and every situation is unique and has it’s own set of challenges.
You may not want to talk to a divorce attorney because you are fearful of the unknown – the cost. I understand this and keep you and your family’s best interest in mind as we work together navigating your divorce. Working with my clients to control the cost of your legal fees, I keep in mind the importance of communication, organization of documents and timely follow-up. These three things, when we work as a team, can help assure a smoother experience. I offer free consultations to help my clients understand the divorce options when filing for divorce in Indiana.
A Divorce, also known as Dissolution of Marriage, is a termination of the marital relationship. Every state has different requirements in terms of how to complete a divorce, but all require a judge to review and approve the divorce settlement or, if the spouses can’t agree to a settlement, decide how property will be divided and how parenting time will be shared. You need to have a signed court order by a judge to be officially divorced. To file for divorce in Indiana, one of the spouses must have been a resident of the state for six months and the county for three months in the court where action is filed. These time periods apply to the period immediately prior to filing.
The most common type of divorce is a “No-Fault” divorce, where one spouse states, under oath or affirmation, there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. “Irretrievable breakdown” essentially means that for whatever reason, no matter whose fault, the marital relationship ended.
The “Fault” grounds for divorce include: conviction of a felony (any crime punishable by imprisonment or death), impotence existing at the time of the marriage, and incurable insanity lasting at least two years.
If you and your spouse are willing to take the high ground by talking, compromising, and working out your differences in a civil manner, you can end your marriage with a minimum of hard feelings. In fact, you may be able to avoid going to court altogether if you get what’s known as an “uncontested divorce.”
Steps for Filing a Divorce in Indiana
- Filing the action
- Preliminary Hearing
- Settlement, if applicable
- Final Hearing
Common Terms Used in Divorce
Indiana follows an “equitable distribution” plan for division of property. In the event parties fail to reach a settlement, the Court employs its method:
1) Determine which property is marital property as opposed to separate property. Marital property includes most property acquired during the marriage. Separate property includes that which is owned only by one spouse, such as inheritance gifts and some property owned prior to the marriage.
2) Assign a value to the marital property. Courts may differ in approaches. Some Courts will prefer retail value of a vehicle while others will use private party value. If parties fail to agree to a valuation, the Court could order a sale of the property and distribute the proceeds.
3) “Equitable” Distribution. The Court will disburse the property in a way the Court deems fair, taking specific factors into consideration.
Indiana prefers shared custody, which means both parties have custody rights with respect to the children. Legal custody refers to the ability to make major life decisions on behalf of the children. Physical custody means actually physically having the child in the party’s presence.
A variety of factors are used to determine the type and time of custody to be ordered, with the main determinant being the best interests of the child. Parents should know that sole custody, or one party retaining all rights to a child, is disfavored. In order for sole custody to be awarded, there must be a showing of parental unfitness. Indiana, like most other states, presumes that a child is better off when both parents remain involved in his or her life. However, this presumption can be challenged.
Spousal maintenance refers to the financial support of one spouse by the other spouse after the termination of the marriage. The Court uses a variety of factors to determine whether spousal support is proper, including: earning capacity, education level, time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training for employment, and physical/mental incapacitation.
Filing – Certain information must be in the original filing and response
Preliminary hearing – Determines the rules while the case is pending
Discovery – Informal information exchange, including financial disclosures
Settlement – Parties may agree to some, or all, of the issues
Final Hearing – Formal proceeding to determine all unresolved issues
**Note: A divorce decree cannot be granted until 60 days have elapsed, measured from the time of the filing the divorce action.