What To Consider Prior to Getting a Divorce in Indiana
Choosing to divorce is no easy decision; it can upend the entire family dynamic and lead to uncertainty and apprehension. You may find yourself wondering about where you’ll live, where your children will live, who gets the house, car, bank account, etc. These are all valid concerns and are things that you should consider prior to getting a divorce in Indiana.
If you are truly considering taking this path, you’ll need an experienced attorney you can count on to identify and deal with all necessary issues so that you can move on to the next chapter in your life. If you’d like to speak with an attorney today, contact the skilled Indiana divorce lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP. We have earned a reputation for providing hard-hitting legal advocacy, even in handling the most complex divorce issues. Call us today at 317-648-9560 or schedule a free, confidential consultation to learn more about your situation and how our Indiana law firm may be able to help you.
Questions To Ask Yourself Before Getting a Divorce in Indiana
Although you might not be happy in your relationship right now, divorce is not always the answer. Prior to filing for divorce in Indiana, you should evaluate if you still love your spouse, if all of your marital problems have been voiced, what changes could save the marriage, and what life will be like after the divorce.
Do I Still Love My Spouse?
Although it can be tough to notice your love for someone during a painful relationship, it can still exist and that’s perfectly okay. Even if you do still love your spouse, divorce could still be the right path. However, it’s important to fully evaluate your feelings before filing for divorce. The best-selling author and empowerment coach, Christine Arylo, wrote in the Huffington Post that you should, “be honest about what your relationship lacks. Assess your relationship on a scale of 1-10 on six of the most essential parts of a great marriage and growing partnership:
- Respect: both of your actions and words never hit below the belt
- Trust: you can and do share everything
- Truth: there is full honesty between each other and with yourselves
- Friendship: you’re true BFFs, on each other’s side, always there for each other through everything
- Intimacy: deep emotional connection
- Unconditional Love: always there no matter what, love is never taken away
Think about the last two years of your marriage and be honest. If you score less than an 8 on any individual indicator, give yourself the gift of honesty. Act as your own best friend and tell yourself the truth about why this relationship was no longer the right one for you. Being honest with yourself will make it easier for you to take the split less personally. You’ll be able to see the love didn’t die, but other things did.”
What Could Save My Marriage?
While it seems like a simple question, many people don’t ask themselves, “is there something that could save my marriage before filing for divorce?” Maybe your spouse’s spending habits, drug/alcohol use, or infidelity are motivating your desire to terminate the marriage. If so, it’s worth at least taking note of that, and discussing the issue with your spouse. Who knows, they may have even needed this push to help themselves reach a better place in life.
In an article from the New York Times, the Reverend Kevin Wright, formerly the minister of education at the Riverside Church in Manhattan, suggested: “On one side of a sheet of paper or computer screen, make a list of what you think you need to do to save the marriage, and on the other side, what your spouse needs to do. And make sure your spouse does the same. It’s important that both of you perform this exercise. Otherwise, he said, “this question can very easily become a question all about what the other person needs to do.”
Have You and Your Spouse Genuinely Discussed the Marital Problems?
Even if you think that you’ve fully, and exhaustedly, communicated your feelings about the situation to your spouse, are you sure that they really heard you? In today’s world of long hours at work, rapid news cycles, and ever-present social media, it’s common for people to not fully “hear” their spouse. Prior to deciding whether you’d like to file for divorce, make sure that you’ve spoken your truth and that your spouse has genuinely heard your truth. This may help in making amends or it may aid in the healing process following a divorce.
Psychology Today recommends that you, “Tell your spouse that you’d like to talk. You can talk at home if that feels comfortable and safe for you, or you can choose a neutral place like a coffee shop. If you are worried about the reaction, ask your spouse to join you in a meeting with a therapist where you can talk about your decision. Don’t just leave a note and move out unless safety is a primary concern. This is cowardly and traumatic and unfair to your spouse.”
Is Getting a Divorce in Indiana Worth it? What Will Life Be Like Afterward?
As Nancy Colier, a psychotherapist in Manhattan, explained to the New York Times, “You have to look fiercely and realistically at whether what you’re getting in the relationship is worth what you’re giving up.” Perhaps your spouse doesn’t interest you as a sexual partner as much as you would want, but maybe your spouse’s co-parenting skills, willingness to help with everyday chores, or companionship can offset the negative and make the trade-off worth it. Getting a clear idea of what is most important in your life can make the decision of whether to stay in the marriage less overwhelming.”
When it comes to life after divorce, you’ll need to really consider how much of your day-to-day is about to change. Following a divorce, you may find yourself needing to re-enter the workforce, make new friend groups, find a new place to live, or simply new ways to spend your free time. While these sorts of things seem ordinary, they can be tolling on a person, especially following an emotional split. The more you prepare, both literally and emotionally, for these changes, the better off you’ll be if your marriage does end in divorce.
Addressing Divorce with Kids
For kids, divorce can feel catastrophic; like their entire world has been flipped upside down. Some kids may feel angry at one or both parents, while other kids may feel anxious and uncertain about the future. It’s also common for kids to feel guilty; as if they’re to blame for the problems that exist at home. Given this, it’s hugely important that before getting a divorce in Indiana, parents discuss how the divorce will affect the kids and how they plan to talk to them about the subject. Some questions that you can ask yourselves include:
- Where will the child/children live?
- How often will they see each parent?
- Who will spend which holidays with the child/children?
- How will birthdays be spent?
- Where will the child/children go to school?
- Who will be responsible for carpools and after-school activities?
In addition, both parents should also begin to discuss the topics of child custody, parenting time, and child support. While it may seem premature to do this, coming to an agreement on these topics would prevent the court from having to make its own determination. When discussing these topics, you may find it helpful to use certain official tools like Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines or the Indiana Child Support Calculator to come to an agreement that feels both standard and fair. However, if you aren’t able to come to an agreement, and would like to speak with the experienced family law attorneys from Keffer Hirschauer LLP. Our team can help you work towards the custody order, child support, and parenting time you desire.
Talking to The Kids About Divorce
Once you’re ready to talk with the kids about the divorce, you and your spouse should agree to present a united front, and make sure that the kids know that they’re not at fault. You should be honest and empathetic with kids and answer any questions they have for you. It’s also important to be clear about what elements of their day-to-day life will change, and what will stay the same. Kids tend to find comfort in their routines, so having time to process the effects of the divorce on their life will be beneficial for them in the long run. Most importantly, make sure that they know that both of you love them unconditionally, and that will never change regardless of the family situation.
After you’ve covered these topics, let the kids talk and express themselves. Be patient with them regarding their reactions and make it clear that this conversation can be ongoing. Kids need time to process, so keep the door open for future discussions and make sure that your kids know that they can come to you at any time if they want to talk about the divorce.
The Process of Filing for Divorce in Indiana
If you’ve never been through a divorce before, you may not realize all that the process entails. Basically, the process starts by filing a petition for dissolution in the Circuit or Superior court of your Indiana county of residence. The petition is a formal written request asking the court to dissolve or end your marriage. Beyond filing a petition for dissolution, you’ll need to file two more documents with the Circuit or Superior court of your Indiana county. You must file both an appearance with the court and serve your soon-to-be ex-spouse with a summons.
Once the petition for dissolution has been filed, a 60-day waiting period begins before a decree of dissolution can be entered and a judgment made regarding each spouse’s rights and obligations. In an uncontested divorce, where agreement between parties is reached on all issues regarding the divorce, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse can waive your final hearing and ask the court to approve your written agreement and issue a decree of dissolution. To do so, these conditions must be satisfied:
- Both of you must agree to the waiver and sign it
- The waiver must be in writing
- The waiver must state either that there are no contested issues or that any contested issues have been resolved by written agreement under Indiana Code 31-15-2-17
What’s Resolved in the Written Agreement?
The written agreement is more commonly known as the settlement agreement. This document will address issues surrounding the divorce, like the distribution of assets and property, child custody and child support (if applicable), and spousal maintenance.
During the 60-day waiting period after filing the petition for dissolution, the two parties can begin to work out the details and try to find agreement on the document. This process begins with gathering relevant documentation related to the assets and liabilities of both parties, as is required under Indiana Code 31-15-7-4. The two parties may also elect to use this waiting period to negotiate – or litigate – other issues necessary for carrying on with life while the divorce is pending, such as who will live in the house until the divorce is finalized, who gets which vehicle, or how parenting time will be allocated.
What Happens if We Cannot Agree?
If there are outstanding issues that were not submitted in the written agreement, the court will need to hold a final hearing. At this hearing, both parties will offer evidence in support of the court decision that you request. After the hearing, the court will consider the evidence, pleadings, and agreements that were presented by each party, and do one of two things under Indiana Code 31-15-2-15: issue the decree and judgment or continue the case.
The court often issues a decree of dissolution and judgment establishing the rights and responsibilities of each spouse moving forward. This judgment could address elements like what marital assets are subject to division; the value of such assets; allocation of those assets; each spouse’s responsibility for joint and individual debts; and all matters related to the children, if applicable. In rare cases, the court may continue the case. This is only done if the court believes there is a chance of the two parties reconciling.
Thinking of Getting a Divorce in Indiana? Start by Speaking with an Attorney
Although you might not be ready to file for divorce, it is vital to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer as soon as possible. You’ll want to get some background information on the intricacies of Indiana family law, and what to expect if you do choose to file for divorce. The Indiana divorce attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP are skilled, driven litigators and negotiators. They have years of experience guiding and advocating for individuals just like you.
After getting to know your situation, the attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP will explain what the divorce process may look like for you and what you can expect in the coming months. They will also counsel you on which documents you should consider obtaining prior to filing the decree for dissolution. This will help put you in a better position to protect both yourself and your loved ones.