Requirements for Divorce in Indiana
Indiana is a no-fault divorce state; however, the state also allows divorce on limited “fault” grounds.
You need to live in Indiana for at least six months before filing for divorce
You need to file for divorce in the county you or your spouse lives in, and the person filing needs to live there for at least three months
There is a 60-day waiting period before the court will grant you a final decree which will end your marriage.
Grounds for an indiana divorce
For divorce in Indiana, you need to meet the residency requirements and if the marriage is maintained but the conditions are intolerable for continued cohabitation in the case of legal separation or the marriage is broken irretrievably and there is no chance of reconciliation, then you can get a divorce.
In the case of fault-based divorce, there are just 3 grounds provided by Indiana:
Step 1: Starting your Indiana divorce
Preparing the Documents
If you want to file for a divorce without a divorce lawyer, you can download the appropriate forms and fill them using the instructions available online. Alternatively, you can get hard copies of the forms from the clerk at the local court.
Documents Needed for Filing for Divorce
Appearance by Unrepresented Person in Civil Case: Informs that you don’t have a lawyer but would like to take part in a civil case.
Summons: Informs your partner that you have filed for divorce and informs her/him that if she/he wishes to participate, then she/he must file an appearance.
Verified Petition for Dissolution of Marriage: Requests the court to grant a divorce.
Notice of Provisional Hearing: Informs your spouse about the date of the provisional hearing.
Temporary Order: Has details of temporary arrangements that have been approved by the judge for housing, care of the property, etc. as long as the case is pending.
Motion for Final Hearing: Request the court for a hearing date for the finalization of the divorce and property division.
Notice of Final Hearing: Informs your spouse to the date of hearing.
Decree of Dissolution of Marriage: Final order of the court ending your marriage and also has the details of the property and debt division.
Appearance by Unrepresented Person in Civil Case
Decree of Dissolution of Marriage: Final order of the court ending your marriage and also has the details of the property and debt division and child custody.
Verified Petition for Dissolution of Marriage & Agreement: Presents the agreement made by your spouse and you and requests the court to approve the agreement and grant a divorce.
Verified Waiver of Final Hearing: Informs the court that your spouse and you have agreed to all the divorce terms and have waived the right to a final hearing.
Appearance by Unrepresented Person in Civil Case
Verified Petition for Dissolution of Marriage: Requests the court to grant a divorce and also make the required temporary arrangements until your divorce is finalized.
Notice of Provisional Hearing
Motion for Final Hearing: Request the court for a hearing date for the finalization of the divorce and property division and parenting arrangements.
Notice of Final Hearing
Decree of Dissolution of Marriage: Final order of the court ending your marriage and also has the details of the property & debt division, child custody, support and visitation.
Appearance by Unrepresented Person in Civil Case
Verified Petition for Dissolution of Marriage & Agreement
Verified Waiver of Final Hearing
Decree of Dissolution of Marriage: Final order of the court ending your marriage and also has the details of your agreement regarding property and debt division and child custody.
Child Support Obligation Worksheet
Filing Your Forms
When you fill out the forms, you must make copies of the forms. You can find out the number of copies of the forms that are required by checking your local rules.
In the case that you have children from your marriage, you must also fill out the green form where you must fill out your ssn (Social Security Number) and bank account details in order to safeguard your privacy and these details will be filed along with your papers.
Once the forms are filled, you must sign them. You must file the appearance, summons, verified petition and provisional hearing notice forms with the county court clerk along with the filing fee. The court clerk will then assign a number to your case and will process your documents by stamping the date of filing.
Step 2: Serving your partner
You must serve your spouse with the papers or send them to his/her attorney via:
Private process service company
Each county has different preferred processes of service and so it is a good idea to check with your county court clerk.
Step 3: Contested or uncontested indiana divorce?
Contested Divorce (Spouses Disagree)
During a divorce, often the spouses can resolve some or all of the issues pertaining to the divorce through a settlement agreement. However, there may be times when the parties are unable to agree on the various issues. In such a situation, the parties will have to litigate the issues before a family law magistrate, judge or commissioner.
And, these kinds of divorces are known as contested divorces. In the case of a contested divorce, it may be a good idea to hire a divorce attorney who will represent you in court and this is especially important if your spouse has hired a lawyer or plans to hire one. Usually, contested divorces take a long time and are quite expensive too.
Uncontested Divorce (Spouses Agree)
When your spouse and you agree on all the issues of the divorce such as division of property and debts, child custody, child support, visitation and alimony, then the divorce is known as an uncontested divorce or “divorce with agreement.”
However, if your spouse and you are unable to agree on all these issues, then you cannot opt for an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is less traumatizing than having to argue your case in court in front of a judge and it is less expensive too.
In Indiana, you can opt for an uncontested divorce irrespective of whether your spouse and you have children or not. You need to fill out different forms if you have children. In Indiana, there is also an option of a “bifurcated divorce”, where if your spouse and you agree on some of the major issues, but not all of them, then you can submit a partial agreement to the court.
You will have to go to court for a hearing to resolve the disputed issues and the judge will issue a special order known as a “summary disposition order” which retains the partial agreement. a bifurcated divorce helps you to save both time and money as you can avoid a full trial for each issue of your divorce.
To file for an uncontested divorce in Indiana, you must fulfill the residency requirements and both parties must also agree to the grounds for divorce.
Step 4: Do it yourself or hire help?
DIY Indiana Divorce (Slower & Least Costly)
If you decide to handle your divorce on your own without employing a divorce attorney, you can download and use the forms that are made available by the Indiana courts on their website or you can get hard copies of the documents at the court clerk’s office. You must use the document packet that is appropriate for you depending on whether you have an agreement with your spouse on the various issues and if you have children or not. This process is more time consuming and hands on but is done by many people yearly.
The packet also has a document which provides step-by-step instructions on how you should fill out the forms. You can fill in the information on your computer directly or you can take a printout of the forms and fill it out by hand. However, if you decide to handle your own divorce case without an attorney, you will need to follow the same rules followed by an attorney, even if you are not aware of them.
Online Divorce Services (Fastest & Inexpensive)
You can use the services of an online divorce service if you need help with filling out the forms, but at the same time, don’t want to hire an attorney. The online service will ask you questions pertaining to your divorce and once you answer all the questions, your forms will be generated, reviewed, which you then can print out, sign and submit at the county court.
The online service will charge you a fee for their services and our favorite is 3stepdivorce.Record #55501785com which allows you to get your paperwork done starting at $84. Using an online service is a fairly inexpensive and less of a headache than the DIY option.
Attorney Divorce Trial (Long & Expensive)
If your spouse and you are unable to come to an agreement on the key issues of your divorce, then your divorce case will go to trial, where a judge will hear your case and pass a judgment on the various issues.
Both parties will be required to hire a divorce lawyer to represent their cases in court. a divorce trial usually is quite expensive, as you will have to bear the attorney’s fees. Additionally, it also takes a lot of time as several issues have to be dealt with while hearing both parties’ pleas.
Step 5: Dealing with the major issues
Division of Property and Debt
According to the Indiana law, the division of property in the case of a divorce must be equitable, which means that the division may not necessarily be equal but must be fair. Although according to the Indiana law, there is a distinction between marital property and separate property, the judge can divide the property of both spouses in any way that is fair, irrespective of when the property was bought or which spouse owns the property.
The court presumes that the equal division of all property is fair unless one spouse claims that a property is separate and presents evidence that the division of that property is unfair. The Indiana law downplays the importance of distinguishing between marital property and separate property and sometimes both may get mixed together, which is known as “commingling”. For instance, a house that is owned by you can become marital property if your spouse and you make the mortgage and other payments.
If your spouse and you are unable to decide what property belongs to whom, the judge will decide whether the property must be treated as separate property belonging to one spouse only. The court may consider other factors when deciding that it is more appropriate to divide the property unequally rather than an equal division.
Contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the property which may produce income or not.
Economic situation of each spouse.
Earnings or earning capability of each spouse.
Conduct of the spouse resulting in the dissipation or disposal of the property.
Giving the family home or allowing the spouse who has the custody of the children to live in the home for a reasonable length of time.
The judge will also consider any tax liabilities of the property division on the economic situation of each spouse. And, in the case that there is little property or no property to divide and if one spouse has contributed financially to the post-secondary education of the other, the judge may order the contributing spouse to get a reimbursement.
In the case that your spouse and you make your own agreement, then you can divide the property in whatever way you want. Some parties may have a premarital agreement which lists which property is marital and which is separate and this makes dividing the property easier.
In any one of the situations, the court may award permanent maintenance:
If the spouse seeking maintenance is incapacitated either mentally or physically that affects the ability to support himself/herself.
The spouse does not have sufficient property to meet his/her needs and the spouse has the custody of a child whose mental or physical incapacity prevents the spouse from taking up employment.
In case the court finds that there has been a break in the education, employment or training because of childcare responsibilities or those as a homemaker and the spouse needs time to either get an employment or continue his/her education, it may award rehabilitative maintenance for a period of up to 3 years.
There are 2 aspects of child custody in Indiana – physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody is the decision who the child will live with and legal custody is which parent has the decision-making power. In determining both these, the court will consider the factors that are in the best interests of the child before making a decision, including:
The child’s age and sex.
Wishes of the parent(s).
Wishes of the child if he/she is at least 14 years old.
Interaction and relationship of the child with the parents, siblings and any other significant person.
Adjustment of the child to his/her community, home and school.
Physical and mental health of all concerned individuals.
Any instance of family or domestic violence by either of the parents.
If the child has been taken care of by a custodian.
Parents are obligated to support their children who are non-emancipated until they are 19 years old in Indiana. The child support is determined on the basis of:
Weekly income of both spouses.
Number of overnights the child is with the parent who does not have custody.
Evidence of children born subsequently or other maintenance or support obligations.
Child care expenses that are work related.
Health insurance premium paid.
You can fill the Child Support Obligation Worksheet by using the child support calculator which is based on the Child Support Guidelines of Indiana.
Step 6: Finalizing your Indiana divorce
No Children No Agreement
The court will send your spouse and you the date and time of your provisional hearing. Since your spouse and you do not have an agreement regarding property division, at the provisional hearing, the judge issues temporary orders which will be in place until the divorce is pending. Both parties can present testimony and evidence on your behalf.
After 60 days of your initial filing, you can file for the motion and notice for the final hearing with the court clerk. Again, you must serve your spouse the copy of the motion just as the initial filing was served. You will receive the details of the location, time and date of your final hearing from the court, where you must present all the details of your case. The judge may make a decision immediately or your final decree may be sent later by mail.
No Children with Agreement
While the judge can enter temporary orders, the divorce cannot be finalized until 60 days after the filing of the initial petition. Once the waiting period is over, you can file the waiver of the final hearing and the dissolution decree and file them with the court clerk, who will send the decree to the judge for signing. When the decree is signed, the court will retain a copy and one copy will be given to your spouse and you by mail.
With Children without Agreement
The process of finalizing the divorce is the same as if you don’t have children or an agreement. Only, in this case, you need to bring along the child support obligation worksheet, health insurance premium worksheet, parenting time credit worksheet and post-secondary education worksheet. The money mentioned in the worksheet may not be the exact amount that your spouse or you have to pay but is only an approximate amount on basis of the information entered by you. And, this amount may be either raised or lowered by the judge on basis of the best interests of your child and other factors.
With Children with Agreement
The process of finalizing the divorce is the same as if you don’t have children but have an agreement.
This outlines the entire divorce process that one would have to go through in order to successfully complete the divorce process. Choose the option that best works depending on your needs and requirements.