The steps to divorce in Indiana are really pretty simple. I will do my best to explain them to you.
The first step to filing a divorce in Indiana is to make sure that you meet the residency requirements. In order to file in Indiana, at the time you file you must:
- be a resident of Indiana; or
- stationed at a United States military installation within Indiana;
- for six (6) months immediately preceding the filing for divorce
- a resident of the county; or
- stationed at a United States military installation within the county;
- where the petition is filed for three (3) months immediately preceding the filing the divorce
Filing Petition for Divorce
Your next step is to file the appropriate documents with the correct court. The document filed with the court is called Verified Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. Basically, the document tells the court of the date of your marriage, if you have children, that you two cannot get along and want to divorce. Additionally, you sign it under penalties of perjury.
When initiating a divorce, a filing fee must be paid to the clerk's office. That fee is currently $176.00 in Marion County (May 2017).
Wait! Not So Fast
Once you have filed your paperwork your divorce cannot be finalized for at least 60 days. Some people call this the cooling-off period others call it the provisional period because you have to wait. After sixty days if you and your soon-to-be-ex have reached an agreement of how to divide everything you can submit those papers to the Judge, or if you need to you can request to go before the Judge for the Judge to decide what you both will receive from the divorce.
Do You Two Have Children?
If you and your spouse have children that were born or adopted during the marriage, then most counties in Indiana require you both will need to attend a class regarding children and divorce. The requirement to attend this type of class comes from each county court's local rules. In central Indiana, Marion, Boone, Hamilton, and Hendricks counties all require attending Children Coping with Divorce presented by the Visiting Nurses Service Inc. Once you have completed the class the Visiting Nurses Service will forward your compliance with the Court. You and your spouse do not need to attend the class together.
During the sixty day window, either of you can request to go before the Judge to put rules in place until you do reach an agreement or have a final hearing before the Judge. Additionally, if the two of you can reach an agreement, you can write that up and ask the Judge to sign off on it so that there is a Court Order in place during your waiting period.
Also during the sixty day window, and beyond, the parties often will attempt to negotiate a settlement. In general, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse can talk to each other and workout how you want to divide property, child custody, support and visitation. it is basically a contract between the two of you and you can do most anything that you desire. If the two of you do reach an agreement you will want to get the details to your lawyer right away. Additionally, if you reach an agreement you probably will not have to go before the Judge at a Final Hearing.
Each court has its own "local rules". in their local rules, some courts require the parties to attend mediation before having a Final Hearing. Mediation is a way of resolving disputes between parties. Typically, the mediator, works to assist the parties to negotiate a settlement. The mediator will point out your strengths to the other side and he or she will help you see any weaknesses in your settlement position as well. The idea is that by the mediator pointing out both sides good and bad points the parties will reach an agreement.
What Happens if We Reach an Agreement?
Whether or not you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have reached an agreement on your own or through the use of a mediator, Congratulations. You have an agreement. Now either you or your divorce attorneys need to write up the settlement in the correct form for the court. The Settlement Agreement should include sections on: personal property, retirement benefits, taxes, child custody/visitation, child support, jewelry, cars, student loans, credit cards, mortgage, etc.... Now if you cannot reach an agreement, keep reading.
The only reason you would have a final hearing is if there are issues which you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement upon. In this case, you basically ask the Judge to determine how to resolve these issues. So if you and your spouse cannot decide how to split up your personal property, debts, and/or child issues you will have to present evidence to the Judge as to why you should get what you want. The risk you take by going before the Judge at the Final Hearing is that neither you nor your spouse know what the Judge will do. If you can reach a Settlement Agreement before this stage you can reduce the risk and control what will occur once your divorce is final.
Coming Back to Court
You are divorced once the Court has issued a Final Order and Decree. Typically, whether you reached a Settlement Agreement or the Judge decided how to divide the marital property, once the property division is final it cannot be re-litigated. Issues which can be readdressed are child custody and child visitation. Generally, to readdress these issues you must show the Court that there has been a significant change in circumstances AND that making a change would be in the child's best interest. Issues involving child support can also be modified if at least twelve months have passed since the last child support modification, AND that when calculating a recommended child support obligation based on current figures, if a payor is either overpaying or underpaying by more than 20%, then he or she is entitled to a modification.
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If you have questions regarding the process of a divorce in Indiana, contact JR Emerson to schedule to talk with you.
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- Tyler Height, Emerson Law Client
JR is a problem solver, he works well with people and is very comfortable in court. My ex and I are decent friends and JR made this a very easy thing for us. I hope you the same! Glad I chose JR, couldn't have imagined this going any smoother than this!”
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