Dedicated Family Law Attorneys

Indiana Legal Separation Attorneys

As much as we would all like to believe in a storybook ending, marriages do not always last forever. Couples need to know, however, that divorce is not the only option when a marriage in Indiana falters. Legal separation in Indiana can provide many of the same solutions that divorce offers, but without ending the marriage. If you think legal separation might be the right next step for your marriage, the Indiana legal separation attorneys of Keffer Hirschauer LLP can help.

Why Do You Need Indiana Legal Separation Attorneys?

When a marriage is in trouble, both parties should consider all of the options carefully before making a decision that sets the path for the rest of their lives and their children’s lives, if applicable. If some form of separation is inevitable, both parties to the marriage need to understand the difference between legal separation and divorce and the benefits of legal separation in Indiana before they decide how to move forward.

The Indiana legal separation attorneys of Keffer Hirschauer LLP will take the time to meet with you and discuss your concerns and questions about legal separation so you can make a choice that will serve your family’s best interests, now and in the future.

Call us today at (317) 857-0160 to schedule your free consultation.

What Is the Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce in Indiana?

Legal separation and divorce in Indiana are governed by some of the same laws, but there are also essential differences that must be considered. So what is the difference between legal separation and divorce in Indiana? The most basic difference is that divorce legally ends the marriage, while legal separation does not.

An Indiana legal separation allows a couple to formally, but temporarily, separate physically and financially. This formal “pause” to the marriage provides structured child custody and parenting time arrangements under Indiana law without dissolving the marriage. The Indiana legal separation attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP can explain whether legal separation, divorce, or some other avenue best meets your current needs.

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Does Marital Separation Need to Be Formalized?

Couples must understand that legal separation is not the same as physical separation—or one party leaving the family household to reside elsewhere. Legal separation requires a court filing, just as a divorce would, and allows couples to access the same legal remedies as in a divorce for the separation of property, assets, liabilities, and debts. Whether your financial position is modest or you have a high net worth, the distinction between physical separation and legal separation is an important one when it comes to protecting your financial future.

Filing for legal separation in Indiana also provides an official avenue for the determination of child custody, child support, and parenting time matters. Disputes are likely to arise in this area when arrangements are not managed properly in separation cases. Legal separation allows for a formal determination of parental rights and responsibilities and the establishment of a schedule for parenting time or visitation and a forum with the authority to enforce child-related orders.

If you live in Indiana and are considering separating from your spouse, the Indiana legal separation attorneys of Keffer Hirschauer LLP can help ensure that your separation is legally recognized and offers all of the rights and benefits to which you are entitled under the law.

The Benefits of Legal Separation in Indiana

Why do some couples choose legal separation rather than proceeding with a divorce? There are likely as many reasons as there are couples with unique marital situations. In some states, legal separation is even required for a period of time before a couple may file for divorce, though that is not the case in Indiana.

Usually, when a couple chooses legal separation in Indiana, there is a benefit that isn’t offered by the alternatives, remaining together or divorcing. Some of the benefits of legal separation in Indiana include:

  • A couple that does not wish to or cannot continue to live in the same home can live separately but remain married
  • One spouse can formalize notice of his or her discontent to the other spouse without ending the marriage
  • Assets, property, debts, and liabilities can be separated without terminating the marriage
  • Child custody and support matters can be formalized and overseen by the court
  • A spouse can be given time to address substance abuse, addiction, or other personal issues that might be harmful to the family
  • A couple can have a formal trial period of separation before deciding to divorce
  • A couple can request counseling for one or both parties or the children and gain access to court-appointed specialists
  • Financial benefits such as health insurance, social security benefits, or military benefits can be maintained for one or both spouses
  • Tax advantages of marriage may be retained in some cases

Couples pursue legal separation for a variety of reasons. Whatever your circumstances may be, an Indianapolis separation attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP can answer any questions you have and help you identify the best way to move forward for you and your family.

How to File for Legal Separation in Indiana

It is important to understand how to file for legal separation in Indiana before you begin to move forward with your separation. Indiana Code § 31-15-3-6 sets forth the eligibility requirements to file for legal separation in Indiana.

Under the law, at least one spouse must have resided in the state for at least six months prior to filing for separation. Additionally, one spouse must have resided in the county where the action will be filed for a period of not less than three months prior to the filing. Members of the US military stationed in Indiana qualify under the guidelines for residence.

Details regarding how to file for legal separation in Indiana are outlined in Indiana Code § 31-15-3-4. The law states that an Indiana petition for legal separation must be verified and include the following details:

  • Place of residence of both parties and length of residence at each location
  • Marriage date
  • Separation date
  • Names, ages, and addresses of any children of the marriage who are under the age of 21 or incapacitated
  • Statement disclosing whether the wife is pregnant
  • Description of the reason(s) for separation
  • Description of the relief that is being sought

When you work with the Indiana legal separation attorneys of Keffer Hirschauer LLP, we will make sure that your petition for legal separation is verified and submitted properly. We have a deep understanding of the laws that govern Indiana legal separation, and we also know the local court systems. If you are considering a legal separation in Indianapolis, or anywhere in the state of Indiana, put our experience to work for you.

What to Expect When You File a Petition for Legal Separation

Actions for legal separation are governed by the Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure. After one party files a petition for legal separation in Indiana, the other party will be served with a summons, as would occur in a divorce proceeding or any other civil action. The responding party, the spouse who did not file the original petition for separation, is entitled to file a responsive pleading or counteraction to the petition for legal separation.

To proceed with a legal separation, the court must agree that the conditions of the marriage make it intolerable for the parties to continue to cohabitate. The court must also find that the marriage should be maintained. If the court where the petition for legal separation is filed determines that these conditions exist, it may issue a decree for legal separation. A decree for legal separation cannot be issued by the court if an action for dissolution of the marriage, the legal term for divorce, has already been filed.

Individuals who file for legal separation in Indiana may also file related actions for spousal maintenance, child support, child custody, and possession of property. The court reviews requests regarding these issues as it would in a divorce proceeding. When you work with the Indiana legal separation attorneys of Keffer Hirschauer LLP, we can help you identify the legal steps that need to be taken to protect your rights and can file those actions on your behalf.

The Limitations of Indiana Legal Separation

If a court issues a decree for legal separation, the term of separation is not to exceed one year. At that point, the couple must decide if they wish to stay together or divorce. If the couple decides to proceed with divorce before the end of the one-year term of the separation, they may do so no sooner than 60 days after the legal separation petition was filed. The legal separation ends after one year or when a petition for divorce is filed.

Court orders related to child custody and support, spousal maintenance, division of property, or other matters also end when the legal separation ends, though these orders can be used as the basis for moving forward on the same issues in a divorce proceeding.

Contact the Indiana Legal Separation Attorneys of Keffer Hirschauer LLP

Marital strife is stressful and taxing, but resolving to move forward in some way provides many people in difficult marriages with some level of comfort and peace of mind. The management of your legal separation in Indiana can positively or negatively affect the outcomes at the end of the separation, whether you choose to stay married or to file for divorce. The Indiana legal separation attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP take the time to discuss our clients’ wishes and goals for the future and plan a legal course of action that will get them where they want to be.

To learn more about the difference between legal separation and divorce or the limitations and benefits of legal separation in Indiana, reach out to the Indiana legal separation attorneys of Keffer Hirschauer LLP. There is an alternative in between continuing to live in a bad marriage or getting a divorce, and we can help you determine if legal separation is right for you.

Call us at (317) 857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with an Indianapolis separation attorney today.