Divorce in Indiana

What do I have to prove to divorce my spouse in Indiana?

Indiana is a "no fault" divorce state.  That means you don't have to prove either spouse did anything wrong to get a divorce.  It used to be that a spouse had to prove the other did something wrong in order to get a divorce.  Today, to get a divorce in Indiana, courts don’t care if either spouse did something wrong.  Instead, if you want a divorce you just have to tell the court that your marriage is "irretrievably broken" in order to get a divorce.  Further, if you want a divorce, your spouse really cannot stop you from getting a divorce.

Do both of us have to live in Indiana to get a divorce in Indiana?

In order to get a divorce in Indiana either you or your spouse must be a resident of Indiana for the six months immediately preceding your filing for divorce, and be a resident of the county in which you are filing for the three months immediately preceding your filing for divorce.

How much will it cost to get a divorce?

In order to file for divorce, like other lawsuits, the Clerk of the Court(s) charge a filing fee.  The filing fees vary between $141 and $161, depending on the county in which you file for divorce. you are in.  Most counties require the filing fee to be paid in cash, certified check, or money order.  If you are unable to pay the fees you can request the court to let you file for divorce for no or a reduced filing fee.

Will I have to take a parenting class?

If you have children, most courts will require you, and your spouse, to attend a class where you will learn how to help your children through the divorce.  Some counties require you to attend in person while other counties may allow you to take an online course.  Either way you do NOT have to attend the same class as your soon-to-be ex-spouse.  Be aware, there may be a fees associated with the class. 

If you hire an attorney, you will also have to pay the attorney. You will need to check with the attorney about that attorney's fees.

How long will it take for my divorce to be final?

Once you have filed for divorce in Indiana, there is a mandatory 60 day waiting period before the court can finalize your divorce.  Even if you and your spouse are in agreement with all terms, you must still wait 60 days before the judge will sign off on your divorce.  That said, the court can issue temporary orders as soon as your divorce is filed.  Be aware, your divorce will likely take longer than 60 days to complete.  The actual time it will take to get your divorce finalized will depend upon the issues of your case, whether or not you and your spouse reach an agreement between yourselves (or your lawyers) and the court's schedule.

I filed my divorce with the clerk, what happens now?

Once you have filed for divorce your case is assigned to a court, and copies of your filings are sent to your spouse.  If you requested temporary custody, temporary child support, or temporary possession of the marital residence, the court will set the matter(s) for a provisional hearing.  At the provisional hearing you will tell the judge why your request(s) should be granted.  If granted, remember that a provisional order will only be in effect until the final hearing. 

Will my spouse get everything?

The presumption, the starting point, in Indiana, is that all assets and all debts brought into the marriage will be split evenly on a 50-50 basis.  However, this is just the starting point.  You may have an argument that you are entitled to more than 50% of the marital assets and/or your spouse should be awarded more than 50% of the debts of the marriage. 

My spouse will fight me for custody of our child(ren).  What will the Court look at to determine custody? 

The Court will look at the best interests of child in order to decide custody.  The Indiana Code specifies what the Court can consider, which include:

  1. the age and sex of the child;
  2. the parents' wishes;
  3. the child's wishes, especially if the child is at least fourteen;
  4. the child's interactions with the parents, the siblings and others;
  5. the child's adjustment to home, school and community;
  6. the mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
  7. the stability in the home, income, housing, and child care; and
  8. evidence of a pattern of domestic violence by either parent.

If my spouse gets primary custody how much visitation will the I get?

You and your spouse can reach any agreement that you wish.  If you want to share the kids equally, then you will both need to make that part of your final divorce agreement.  However, if you two are unable to agree to a visitation schedule most courts will order the parties to follow the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines.  The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines are Indiana’s rule book, it defines how most facets of visitation occur.  Generally, the non-custodial parent will exercise parenting time every other week-end, and one night during the week.  While parenting time during holidays is split between the parents.  If there are issues of substance abuse, domestic abuse, or something else that Court finds would be harmful to the child, the Court may place restrictions upon the non-custodial parent's parenting time.

How does a court determine child support?

Indiana has written rules that specify how child support is determined.  These rules are called the Indiana Child Support Guidelines.  Child support is basically a function of each parent’s income, any work related child care expenses, child related medical insurance premiums, and a few other factors to determine child support.  If a parent is not employed, the Court will often compute child support on the assumption that the parent could earn at least a minimum wage.  Usually child support payments are made to the clerk’s office through an income withholding order.

How does a divorce become final?

Your divorce will become in one of two ways.  You and your spouse will reach an agreement of all terms and submit papers to the court, a Settlement Agreement, that detail all terms of your agreement.  The second option is to go before a judge and let the judge decide. 

What decisions are made as part of a divorce?

Per a Settlement Agreement or a Judge will:

  • End your marriage.
  • Divide the marital property and debts (usually on a 50-50% basis).
  • Issue custody, visitation and child support orders for children of the marriage.
  • The wife can get her maiden or former name back as part of the divorce.
  • Court Orders for counseling, spousal maintenance, or protective orders can also be issued by the Court.

If my spouse doesn’t like the final Court Order or Settlement Agreement can my spouse take me back to Court? 

Generally, if you reached an agreement outside of court the answer is no.  A court order issued following a final hearing may be appealed to the Indiana Court of Appeals, but an appeal would be costly.  Issues relating to child custody, visitation, and child support can be brought back to the court under certain circumstances.

Should I hire a lawyer to file for divorce?

Navigating the court system can be very daunting.  You need someone to help you negotiate the best possible outcome for the property, debts, and possibly children that are involved.  While you may find forms to file your own divorce, it is best to have an attorney help you file a divorce.  If you attempt your divorce on your own, the court will hold you to the same rules as if you were an attorney.


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