Couples in Indiana must follow similar Divorce norms to all other states. However, just like other states, there are a few differences in the law here. We have listed 6 must-know facts about divorce in Indiana for any couple filing for divorce. These are some of the most basic and essential points that one should know before applying for divorce to avoid missteps during the proceeding that could complicate the overall case and lead to rejection.
So, without further ado, let’s have a quick look:
Residency & Filing Requirements
When filing for divorce in Indiana, you have to remember to check the residency requirements. The court will only accept cases that comply with these specifications. If the court decides that they do not have any legal say, they will dismiss the case. Therefore, you will have to follow the following requirements when you apply for divorce in Indiana:
- The respondent or the petitioner must have an established residency in the state for at least six months and in the county where the petition will be filed for three months before the divorce can be filed.
- If the partner is serving in the military in another state, they will have to return to the state for at least 6 months before the hearing.
Additionally, the couple can only apply for a divorce on specific grounds. Indiana is known for being a no-fault uncontested divorce state. This means that the Dissolution of Marriage Petition must state the proper grounds for divorce. Both parties must agree to these grounds, negotiate, and come to a final decision. The divorce grounds approved by the state of Indiana include the following:
- Irretrievable Marital Breakdown
- Conviction of proven Felony by the partner
- History of Incurable Mental Illness for a minimum of 2 years
No Advantage over Respondent & Mediation Support
Looking at the case from a legal perspective, the petitioner shall not receive any upper hand over the respondent. That means that no advantage will be given to the partner filing for divorce at any phase of the process. The only benefit that the filing party receives is that they will be presenting their case first.
This gives them time to provide a proper, lawful presentation of the documents and proofs. Furthermore, it also offers them an opportunity to put their demands and complaints before the other party. This way, they can showcase that the best decision for the couple would be to dissolve their marriage.
Moreover, sometimes the court can order a consultation or mediation. This will lead the case to be placed on the docket until the final hearing. The couples can take around 60 days or approximately 2 months to complete the mediation process. However, if the court finds fit, it can extend this period. This will be done on the recommendation of the mediator.
But the final decision will be based on both party’s consent and agreement. The only requisite here is that the extended period must not exceed the date of the final hearing. After the mediation process is completed, the mediator can file the mediation documents.
Expenses & Duration of Getting a Divorce
There are not many expenses to the divorce process if you do not hire a lawyer. The couples will just have to pay the filing fee, which varies from county to county. This payment is generally accepted in cash, check, or money order. To learn more about the local directives and fees, couples can contact the Local Court Clerk’s Office.
Moreover, another important step in getting divorced is to objectively make the best decision for your children. Custody and visitation should be decided, keeping both sides in mind. The court might recommend attending special sessions to help the child get through this tough phase.
These sessions are available after paying a fee for the same. But, if you are unable to pay this charge, you can request a fee waiver from the court. If accepted, the court will continue its proceeding at a reduced cost or without any fees being charged.
As mentioned above, you have the option to hire a legal advisor. The cost will depend on the attorney. Couples can always proceed without an attorney if they have an uncontested divorce. This way, you both can save money and get separated with a rightful understanding.
Lastly, the divorce process takes around 60 days to complete. The court sets the final hearing for 2 months after the initial hearing. The institution can issue temporary orders after the couples apply for divorce. Although, the final decision is only given at the end of this period. In some cases, the period may get extended, depending on the complexity.
Child Custody Decisions
Indiana courts make child custody related decisions based on the best interests of the children. They do not make any presumptions on which parent would be a better choice for the child’s future. The Court ensures that it considers all different factors before allotting custody to either of the parents.
It keeps the child’s age, gender, and preference in mind when making a decision. Moreover, the preference of the child is only considered if they are above 14 years of age. A few other elements considered include:
- the child’s education;
- family interaction;
- parental bonding;
- community adjustment, etc.
This is done to ensure that the child stays healthy and happy. Furthermore, another determining factor for custody would be each parent’s physical and mental health. Violent acts, domestic harassment, etc., by either spouse, will also be considered in this process.
Financial resources are the primary concern of the court when allocating child custody to a partner. This is why, after separation, both parents will be responsible for supporting and financing their child’s growth. However, the partner with higher earning power will take a higher load on funding the child. This will be applicable to them even if they do not have custody of the child.
These measures help in securing the future development of the child. They also help in reducing the effect of the parental separation after the divorce process is completed. The court makes the child’s physical, mental, and educational growth a priority if the parents are unable to decide which one should have custody.
The institution will decide on their behalf, and their choice will be final. They will also keep the needs of the non-custodial parent in mind. Therefore, they allot visiting hours or time for the other parent. This way, both the child and parent can spend time with each other without breaking any laws.
Moreover, according to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines, visitation should be allotted on one weekday evening and every other weekend. Furthermore, the parents can consensually divide holidays. Also, the visiting hours can be restricted if the meeting has a negative effect on the child.
Just like in child custody, Indiana follows an equitable property and alimony distribution among the couples. However, one should keep in mind that equitable does not necessarily mean equal. Equitable stands for a fair and just distribution of the assets. The court will evaluate and divide the property, capital, debts, and more in an equitable manner.
In an equitable distribution, only marital property is divided. All separate property, including inheritances, gifts, property acquired prior to the marriage, stays with its original owner.
To avoid the court dividing property in an unjust or inappropriate way, the spouses can present evidence to support their claims. The court will consider several factors, including:
- The contribution of each spouse in property acquisition, regardless of their income.
- The financial situation of each spouse at the time of property disposition.
- The conduct of either spouse towards the acquisition, management, and dissipation of the property during the marriage.
- The earning capacity of each spouse.
Spousal Support & Maintenance
The court can also ask a partner to pay their spouse maintenance (also known as alimony) under one of three possible conditions:
- If the other partner is mentally or physically unfit to perform regular tasks, including the ability to work to fund their sustenance in the post-divorce phase.
- If the lesser earning spouse has been awarded custody of a child that is physically or mentally impaired, requiring them to stay home to take care of the child.
- If the spouse could not receive education, employment, or training during the marriage because of their responsibility for a child and home care. However, in this scenario, the court will only request maintenance for a specific period while the spouse gains the education or training they need to find employment and become self-sufficient.