Guide to Filing for Divorce in Indiana
* The information in this post is not intended as a substitute for professional legal advice or to solicit representation; nor does it form an attorney-client relationship. If you are considering filing for divorce in Indiana, want to learn more about the divorce process and/or desire to pursue representation, please contact the Indiana Divorce attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP for a free and confidential consultation at (317) 857-0160.
If you’re considering a divorce, it’s important that you understand how filing for divorce in Indiana works. While the process may seem straightforward, it rarely turns out to be that way. Divorces are often complicated by disputes regarding dependent children, debts, and the division of assets and property. Therefore, securing the representation of an experienced, qualified Indianapolis divorce lawyer will be vital to protecting your rights throughout the divorce process in Indiana.
When attempting to learn the process of filing for divorce in Indiana, DIY guides and e-books will only take you so far. If you need expert guidance while navigating the divorce process in Indiana, a family law attorney at Keffer Hirschauer LLP can help you. We’ll make sure that you fully understand the intricacies of Indiana divorce law and do all that we can to protect you and your loved ones. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at (317) 648-9560 or contact us online.
Four Considerations to Make Before Filing for Divorce
Even if you and your partner seem to agree on all divorce-related matters, it would be wise to make several considerations before filing for divorce in Indiana. This will help everything go as smoothly as possible and eliminate some of the legwork required once the process begins.
Questions to Consider Before Starting the Divorce Process in Indiana
- Do you want to discuss divorce with your spouse before filing?
- Are you aware of all individual and joint liabilities shared by you and your spouse? Can you access those records?
- If you have children under 18, will you and your spouse be able to find an agreement on custody and parenting time?
- Will you and your spouse require outside help when it comes to paying for the divorce? What about living expenses during the divorce process in Indiana?
Every divorce case is unique, but the questions posed above address common situations that arise in many divorce cases. It’s also recommended that you begin collecting important documents that might be more challenging to obtain once you’ve filed the petition for dissolution. This often includes statements from your bank, brokerage, credit card, mortgage company, or retirement fund. You should also consider collecting W2s, pay stubs, insurance policies, tax returns, and other documents relevant to your assets, properties, and debts.
If you feel uncertain about one of the questions or would like to discuss other elements of the possible divorce, the family law attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP are available to speak with you. They can help you identify all matters relevant to your case and ensure that you are well-prepared when it comes to filing for divorce in Indiana. Whether you and your spouse are facing an uncontested divorce or there are one or more points of disagreement, we can help you every step of the way.
What are the Grounds for Divorce in Indiana?
All that is required for filing for divorce in Indiana is that both parties state that the marriage is irretrievably broken. In rare cases, a judge may delay a divorce trial due to the belief that the couple may reconcile; however, the chance of reconciliation must be very obvious for something like this to happen.
Although no specific grounds are required for divorce in Indiana to be irretrievably broken, Indiana Code 31-15-2-3 provides three grounds that can be stated in the petition if relevant:
- Impotence that existed at the time the parties married
- A felony conviction of either party after the marriage
- Incurable insanity of a spouse for a period of at least two years
If your marriage fulfills any of the grounds listed above, you should speak with an Indiana divorce attorney about whether filing for divorce on grounds other than the marriage being irretrievably broken would be of benefit. Indiana judges may not consider marital fault when dividing marital assets, awarding spousal maintenance, and making determinations about child support. On the other hand, filing for a divorce on one of these grounds could lead to increased hostility between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse, which may result in an even lengthier, more heated legal battle. Therefore, you should thoroughly weigh the costs and benefits of each type of divorce filing before proceeding.
What Divorce Papers Need to Be Filed in Indiana?
When you’re ready to file for divorce in Indiana, you’ll begin by filing a petition for dissolution in the Circuit or Superior court of your Indiana county. The petition is a formal written request asking the court to dissolve or end your marriage. Also, in the absence of a previous legal separation, the filing of this petition will act as the date of legal separation of the two parties. This date could be important later in the divorce process in Indiana, especially when it comes to determining the equitable distribution of assets.
Per Indiana Code 31-15-2-5, your petition for dissolution must include:
- The residence of each spouse, including the length of residence in the state and the county where the petition is filed
- The date of marriage
- The date on which the parties separated
- The name and address of every child of the marriage who is either less than 21 years of age or is disabled
- The grounds for divorce
- The relief (results) sought in the divorce case
- A statement whether either party is a lifetime sex or violent offender
Why Does the Petition for Dissolution Require Each Party’s Residence?
As explained in Indiana Code 31-15-2-6, before the filing, at least one of the spouses must have (a) resided in Indiana for at least six months, and (b) in the county where the divorce is filed for at least the last three months.
What Other Paperwork is Required for a Divorce in Indiana?
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. These two documents are less complicated than filing a petition for dissolution, but you still may benefit from the assistance of an Indiana divorce attorney with vast experience in family law.
Filing an Appearance
An appearance is a document filed with the court that, in a basic sense, lets the court know who you are and how to contact you. You can obtain an appearance form in-person at the County Clerk of Court office. If you’d rather access it online, you can locate your county-specific form by going to the Indiana Judicial Branch website.
Filing a Summons
Indiana Code 31-15-2-8 states that “Whenever a petition is filed, a copy of the petition, including a copy of a summons, shall be served upon the other party to the marriage in the same manner as service of summons in civil actions generally.” If a summons is not served, the divorce cannot proceed, as the other spouse must be aware that they are being sued for divorce.
Three Ways to Serve a Summons
- Serving them through certified mail
- Serving them yourself and filing an affidavit
- Hiring a process server to serve the summons
If you’re filing for divorce in Indiana, you often can find a copy of the summons that is used in your particular county on the county website or within local rules, which can be accessed via the Indiana Judicial Branch website.
How Long Do You Have to be Separated Before You File for Divorce in Indiana?
In Indiana, there is no required period of separation before filing for divorce. However, Indiana does require a minimum waiting period of 60-days before the entry of a decree of dissolution. This waiting period begins on the day you filed the petition for dissolution.
During this 60-day waiting period, you and your partner can work towards resolving the issues surrounding the divorce, including gathering relevant documentation related to assets and liabilities of both parties, as is required under Indiana Code 31-15-7-4. You and your partner 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.
For example, you could resolve matters such as:
- Who will live in the primary residence?
- Who will have access to certain assets and property, like a vehicle or lake house?
- Who will pay certain routine bills, like the mortgage, car loan, or basic utilities?
If you have children who are dependents, you’ll also need to reach an agreement with your soon-to-be ex-spouse regarding how to handle child-related issues. This could include determinations on the level of child support required, child custody, and parenting time. Following Indiana Code 31-15-4-8, the court may enter provisional orders to make agreements—or court decisions—regarding these issues enforceable while the divorce is pending.
When is the Divorce Final?
When it comes to filing for divorce in Indiana, once the 60-day window has passed following the petition for dissolution, your marriage can officially be terminated. This is done via the entry of a decree of dissolution and a judgment establishing each spouse’s rights and obligations. These two elements can be based upon an agreement reached between you and your spouse, otherwise following a hearing all unaddressed or contested issues will be settled by a judge.
Reaching an Agreement
If you and your partner reach an agreement on all issues to be determined in the divorce, you can waive a final hearing, ask the court to approve their written agreement, and issue a decree of dissolution. However, to avoid going to court, the following 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
Holding a Final Hearing
If there are outstanding issues that weren’t submitted in the written agreement, the court will hold a final hearing. At this trial, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse 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.
Most commonly, the court will issue a decree of dissolution and judgment establishing the rights and responsibilities of each spouse moving forward. This judgment may 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. However, this is only done if the court believes there is a chance of reconciliation and would like the spouses to work on that.
Do You Need an Indiana Divorce Attorney?
Getting divorced can impact every part of your life. It can affect where you live, where your kids live, and where they go to school; you may have to get a new bank account, find a new car, or figure out what to do about child-care moving forward. Dealing with all of this, plus the legal and financial elements of a divorce, can be trying and difficult. But you don’t have to go through all this alone. An experienced, empathetic attorney can help you identify and handle all the necessary issues surrounding the divorce. You can count on them to ensure that everything is being accounted for so that you can spend more time preparing for this next chapter in your life.
If you want an advocate in your corner, choose Keffer Hirschauer LLP today. Our Indianapolis divorce attorneys have years of experience in representing individuals through every stage of the divorce process in Indiana. Whether you’re going through a straightforward, uncontested divorce or need someone to guide you through a complex, contentious divorce in Indiana, we can provide you with a listening ear and expert representation. With Keffer Hirschauer LLP at your side, you can rest assured that your case is in trustworthy, professional hands. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at (317) 648-9560 or contact us online.