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Indiana Divorce Laws 

Confronting the realities of a divorce often feels like navigating through a storm of uncertainty and emotional turmoil. It’s a journey that begins with a heavy heart, as the once-shared dream of a lifelong partnership dissolves into a complex legal process full of nuances and stipulations. Therefore, even in the most stressful of times, it’s vital that anyone contemplating getting a divorce have at least some understanding of the Indiana divorce laws and what to expect from this life-altering transition into the next phase of life.  

In this blog post, we delve into some of the most common questions about getting a divorce in Indiana; touching on subjects like property division, spousal maintenance, child custody, and more. Hopefully, providing clarity and guidance on these legal topics will help those embarking on this path navigate the divorce process in Indiana with confidence and peace of mind. However, this article is no substitute for real, expert legal advice; and it’s highly recommended that anyone considering filing for divorce first speak with an Indiana family law attorney.  

The Indianapolis Law Firm of Keffer Hirschauer LLP has guided countless Hoosiers through the legal and emotional gauntlet of divorce in Indiana. Our divorce attorneys understand each step in the divorce process can feel like a journey through uncharted waters and thus strive to provide clarity, guidance, and advocacy to each client who seeks their assistance.  So, if everything feels a bit overwhelming right now, do not hesitate to reach out to our firm at 317-857-0160 or use our online contact form to schedule a free confidential consultation. 

Keffer Hirschauer LLP: Indiana Family Law Attorneys

FAQs: Indiana Divorce Laws 

Embarking on the path to legally end a marriage is a process enveloped in specific procedural requirements and emotional undertones. This section will delve into some of the foundational aspects of divorce law and address topics like the grounds for divorce, the filing process, and mandatory waiting periods. It will also address the cost of filing for divorce in Indiana and touch on both alimony and legal separation.  

What are the Grounds for Divorce in Indiana?  

The Indiana divorce laws allow for “no-fault” divorce. In other words, the filing spouse does not need to prove wrongdoing by the other party. Instead, it is sufficient to state on the divorce petition that there has been an ‘irretrievable breakdown’ of the marriage.  

There are, however, several specific grounds that may be listed in a divorce petition, if relevant. As provided by Indiana Code 31-15-2-3, these grounds include:  

  • An irretrievable breakdown of the marriage 
  • One spouse’s felony conviction following the marriage 
  • Impotence of either spouse that existed on the date of marriage 
  • Incurable insanity of either spouse for a minimum of two years 

How Does the Divorce Process Start?  

The divorce process in Indiana begins with one spouse filing a petition for the dissolution of marriage in the county circuit court. This document, known as the ‘Petition for Dissolution of Marriage,’ lays the foundation for the legal proceedings. It includes vital information such as the names of both parties, details about any children of the marriage, the grounds for divorce, and any preliminary motions regarding custody, support, or property division. 

Once filed, the petition must be formally served to the other spouse, providing them the opportunity to respond. This moment marks a critical transition from marital discord to legal action, and it sets in motion the sequence of events that will ultimately dissolve the marriage under the eyes of the law. 

How Long Does Divorce Take in Indiana?  

The duration of a divorce in Indiana can vary widely based on the complexity of the case and the level of agreement between the spouses. However, under Indiana Code 31-15-2-13, there is a mandatory waiting period of 60 days from the date the petition for divorce is filed before the divorce can be finalized.  

Generally, uncontested divorces, where both parties agree on all terms, can be resolved shortly after the waiting period. Contested divorces, on the other hand, can take much longer, sometimes a year or more. This is also true of divorces that involve complicated matters like asset division, child custody, or spousal maintenance.  

Do the Indiana Divorce Laws Provide for Alimony?  

No, under Indiana’s divorce laws, alimony is not available in Indiana (unless it was specified in a prenuptial agreement). Instead, the courts may grant spousal maintenance under strict conditions and typically for a limited duration. 

In Indiana, spousal maintenance is considered only in three scenarios: 

  • Incapacitated Spouse: If one spouse is physically or mentally incapacitated in such a manner that their ability to support themselves is materially compromised, the court may grant maintenance during the period of incapacity. 
  • Caregiver Maintenance: If a spouse must forgo employment due to the physical or mental incapacity of a child requiring full-time care, and that spouse lacks sufficient property to provide for their needs, the court may grant maintenance. 
  • Rehabilitative Maintenance: This is awarded to allow a spouse to obtain training or education necessary for suitable employment. It is typically awarded when one spouse has foregone career or educational opportunities to attend to domestic duties. The duration of this maintenance is capped at three years post-divorce. 

Legal separation and divorce are two distinct legal statuses that couples may consider when their marriage is in trouble. However, legal separation is often seen as a precursor to divorce or an alternative for those who do not wish to divorce for personal, financial, or religious reasons. 

During a legal separation, couples may elect to live separately and decisions about child custody, support, and property division can be made in the same manner as they would during a divorce. The marriage, however, shall remain legally intact.  

Divorce, on the other hand, is the formal dissolution of a marriage. It terminates the legal partnership and allows former spouses to remarry. Couples who choose divorce must go through a legal process to end their marriage entirely, which involves resolving all marital issues permanently.  

FAQs: Indiana Divorce Laws on Property Division

When navigating the turbulent waters of divorce, the division of property is often the most consequential and complex issue that the couple will need to resolve. This section of the blog will explore the key elements of property division in Indiana and address common questions about the marital home. 

Is Indiana a 50/50 Divorce State?  

No, Indiana is not a 50/50 divorce state when it comes to the division of marital property in a divorce. Instead, Indiana divorce law operates under the “equitable distribution” principle, which means that marital property should be divided in a manner that is fair and equitable, but not necessarily equal.  

Courts consider a variety of factors when determining what is equitable. These factors can include each spouse’s earning ability, the contributions made by each spouse to the marital assets, and the economic circumstances of each party at the time of the division.  

While there is a presumption that an equal division is fair, this can be rebutted based on the specifics of the situation. Therefore, while a 50/50 split could be a starting point, the final distribution will often look quite different depending on the unique circumstances of the marriage and the discretion of the court. 

What is Considered Marital Property?  

Marital property refers to all assets and debts that a couple acquires during their marriage. As defined in Indiana divorce law, specifically Indiana Code 31-15-7-4, Indiana courts consider marital property to be any property:  

  • owned by either spouse before the marriage 
  • acquired by either spouse in her or own right after the marriage 
  • acquired by either spouse in her or own right before the final separation of the parties 
  • acquired by their joint efforts 

Generally, this includes income earned by both spouses, homes and other real estate, retirement accounts, investments, and personal property like cars and furniture. Debts incurred during the marriage are also considered marital property and are subject to division.  

It’s important to note that property each spouse owned before the marriage, as well as inheritances or gifts received by one spouse during the marriage, is usually considered separate property and not subject to division. However, if separate property is commingled with marital property, it may become marital property. For instance, if an inheritance is deposited into a joint bank account and used for marital expenses, it could be subject to division upon divorce. 

Can My Spouse Change the Locks After Filing for Divorce?  

Under the Indiana divorce laws, once a petition for dissolution is filed, both spouses retain equal rights to the marital home, so one spouse cannot change the locks to exclude the other without permission from the court. If there are concerns about safety, a spouse may seek a court order for exclusive possession of the home, but until such an order is granted, both parties shall have the right to access the property.  

It’s important to handle such matters through legal channels to avoid complications or allegations of unlawful exclusion or domestic misconduct. An attempt to change the locks without legal grounds could potentially impact the court’s view of the offending spouse’s conduct during the divorce proceedings. 

Who Has to Leave the House in a Divorce? 

Deciding who leaves the home during a divorce can be complex and depends on various factors, including who is granted temporary possession of the home during the divorce proceedings. Neither party can be forced to leave without a court order. If there are allegations of domestic violence, the court may issue a protective order that requires the offending spouse to leave. In cases without abuse, spouses may agree on who stays and who leaves, or the court may decide based on factors such as the availability of alternative accommodation and the impact on children. If an agreement cannot be reached, the court may order the sale of the home and distribution of the proceeds as part of the property division. 

FAQs: Child Custody, Support and Other Considerations 

Child custody and parenting time are the heart of family law, where the best interests of children take center stage. This section will delve into the emotionally charged process of determining custody and support arrangements following a divorce and the importance of establishing a parenting time schedule that supports the child’s relationship with both parents. It will also touch on speaking with children about divorce.  

How Do We Tell the Kids about Divorce?  

Telling children about a divorce is one of the most delicate aspects of the process. It’s important to approach this conversation with a united front, providing a simple but honest explanation that is appropriate for their age. Experts suggest that parents should reassure their children that they are loved, the divorce is not their fault, and that both parents will remain actively involved in their lives. It’s also crucial to be prepared for a range of emotions and questions. Maintain an open dialogue and provide comfort, allowing them to express their feelings. The key is to convey the message of change with an emphasis on continuity and security in their relationships with both parents. 

Who Gets Custody of the Kids after the Divorce? 

Following a divorce, child custody decisions are based on the best interests of the child. Courts consider several factors, including the age and sex of the child, the wishes of the child’s parent(s), the child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community, and the mental and physical health of all individuals involved.  

Child custody in Indiana can be sole or joint; with physical custody determining whom the child is with at any given time and legal custody determining who can make important decisions about the child’s upbringing. Indiana encourages parents to share in the parenting responsibilities and often favors joint legal custody, allowing both parents to make decisions for their child. 

What is Parenting Time?  

Physical custody is legally referred to as parenting time, as determined by the parenting time schedule. In Indiana, the practice of parenting time recognizes the importance of the child maintaining a relationship with both parents. The state provides parenting time guidelines to help parents and courts create a parenting time schedule that works for the child’s age and stage of development, considering factors like work schedules, distance between parents’ homes, and the child’s extracurricular activities.  

How is Child Support Calculated in Indiana?  

When a court makes a child support order, they determine who must pay child support and to what extent by using the child support formula contained within the Indiana Child Support Rules and Guidelines. This formula accounts for the parents’ gross income, the cost of healthcare, childcare expenses, and the amount of parenting time each parent has. Support amounts are designed to cover the child’s food, clothing, housing, education, and healthcare needs. The court may deviate from the guideline amounts under certain circumstances if it serves the best interests of the child. 

Further Questions on the Indiana Divorce Laws?

As you stand at the crossroads of marriage and the possibility of divorce, it’s important to remember that this journey, though deeply personal and often challenging, does not have to be walked alone. The legal complexities of divorce—from asset division to custody and parenting time—demand not just a keen understanding of the law, but a compassionate touch and a firm hand in advocacy. 

The right legal representation can make a profound difference. The Indiana divorce lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP provide not just legal expertise but empathetic support. They understand that behind the legal documents and court proceedings are individuals enduring one of life’s most significant transitions. Given this, our attorneys make a commitment to ensure that, above all else, their client’s voices are heard, the rights are protected, and that everything is being done to secure the foundation they need to begin this next chapter in their life.  

While the road ahead may seem daunting, you don’t have to face it alone—the attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP are ready to stand with you and for you. To speak with one of our divorce attorneys, call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free confidential consultation. 

Common Questions: Indiana Divorce Laws
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Common Questions: Indiana Divorce Laws
This article addresses and answers the most common questions on the Indiana divorce laws. Some questions include: How Long Does Divorce Take in Indiana?; Is Indiana a 50/50 Divorce State?; Who Gets Custody of the Kids after the Divorce?; and Who Has to Leave the House in a Divorce?
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Keffer Hirschauer LLP

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