If you are thinking about getting a separation or divorce in Indiana, it helps to understand the process. Below you’ll find a summary of the divorce laws, including information on how child custody is determined and how child support is calculated and enforced. You can also find lawyers providing qualified legal representation, separation and divorce forms, support services, and domestic violence shelters and hotlines.
Need help locating divorce lawyers in your area? This confidential service allows you to review qualified attorneys who are taking new cases before you choose someone to represent you.
Separation Papers - You can draft your marriage separation agreement by answering questions about your situation. Once you're satisfied, you can print out your documents to be signed.
Indiana divorce forms - This is the easiest way of doing your own divorce! Using this online service helps customize your uncontested divorce papers by leading you through various questions about the details of your situation. The final documents will be accurate for IN and you will get the opportunity to read through several e-books which discuss a variety of important divorce topics. Additionally, you can get customer support online, by phone, or e-mail.
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IN Child Support Bureau - If you need to apply for child support services or need help enforcing your child support order, this is the place to start.
Child Support Guidelines - These are the official Child Support Rules and Guidelines from the Indiana Rules of Court.
IN Support Calculations - This is an online calculator to help you estimate the amount of child support that may be ordered in your case.
Parenting Classes. Each county has different requirements when it comes to parenting classes. Parents with underage children are often required to take an educational workshop on the effects of divorce. The aim of these classes is to educate the parents about post-divorce parenting, learning how to cooperate with each other about child-related matters, and how to ease their child's transition after divorce. The "Children Cope with Divorce" workshop generally lasts for 4 hours and should be completed within 60 days of filing for divorce or separation. There are programs for 11 counties in Central Indiana which are held during times convenient for parents. Call 317-782-7200 to enroll. You can also ask your attorney or court clerk whether similar services are offered in your area.
Indy Divorce Support Groups (Supported browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge)
Find divorce support groups in the Indianapolis area to help you deal with the issues of divorce and ease the transition as you begin rebuilding your life.
You can also find local DivorceCare support groups and other support services by visiting our divorce groups page.
ICAVD - Coalition Against Domestic Violence - Once on the site you can look up emergency numbers, shelters and other support services by clicking on the "Find Help" link.
Those who want to divorce in the state of Indiana must meet the state’s residency requirements. If these residency requirements are not properly met, the court will not accept the divorce filing. To qualify for an Indiana divorce:
Prior to the no-fault divorce, one spouse was required to allege a particular “fault” or reason for the divorce, such as adultery, abandonment or cruelty. This meant that even if none of those things were true, couples were forced to perjure themselves in order to obtain a divorce. While no-fault divorce is now common, it still has its critics, who believe no-fault divorce simply makes it too “easy” to get divorced. As anyone who has ever been divorced knows, it is never easy.
In the state of Indiana, couples can file under no-fault - the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage - or can file under one of the following fault-based grounds:
The actual process of getting divorced in the state of Indiana is much like the process in most states. One spouse (the Petitioner) will file for divorce, while the other (the Respondent) will be served with the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The simplest divorce procedure occurs when the divorce is uncontested. This means both spouses are in agreement about the divorce as well as in agreement regarding the division of assets, child custody, and spousal support.
If the divorce is truly uncontested, one of the supporting documents will be a marital settlement agreement which outlines all divorce agreements. These documents will be filed with the court, and copies provided to the other spouse. Both spouses will attend a court hearing, where the judge will make sure all the paperwork is in order, then will enter the Final Dissolution of Marriage Decree, however Indiana imposes a 60-day waiting period before the court will grant a final decree.
If the divorce is contested - that is, the couple is only in partial agreement or in agreement about absolutely nothing - then the Respondent will be served with divorce papers and must respond to the papers. Service can occur via certified mail, private process server or sheriff’s service. Between the time the Petition for Dissolution is filed and the final hearing for the divorce, both sides are required to exchange financial information, including a list of all income, assets, and debts.
If the divorce is truly contentious, it could take many months to finalize the divorce, as the couple attempts to hash out agreements on these emotional issues. There may be depositions taken and interrogatories exchanged back and forth as the process goes forward. If the couple is unable to reach decisions regarding asset division, child custody and/or spousal support, a trial date will be set, and an Indiana judge will make the decisions for them.
As noted, if the couple is in total agreement regarding all the issues of the divorce, then an uncontested divorce could be possible. Uncontested divorces are much quicker, however, divorces which start out as uncontested often turn into not only a contested divorce, but a hotly contested divorce. Contested divorces happen much more often than uncontested divorces. Once a Petition for Dissolution is served to the other spouse, he or she has the opportunity to refute any of the allegations made in the complaint and can make his or her own counterclaims.
Attorneys for both spouses will use the discovery process for evidence requests, negotiations with the other party and witness interviews. Discovery is often a lengthy process - and can be quite expensive as well, depending on the number and scope of the issues which must be decided. When an agreement cannot be reached, a trial will be scheduled. It is rare that a couple will be happy with the outcome when a judge makes all the decisions which will affect the remainder of their life.
Indiana is an equitable property state, which means a judge will divide the property fairly, but this doesn’t mean that it will be equally split between the spouses. For many, dividing marital assets can be one of the most difficult parts of the divorce process. Before marital assets can be divided, it must be determined which assets are marital assets and which are non-marital assets.
Generally speaking, any asset a spouse brings into the marriage remains his or her own, apart from marital assets unless the specific asset has been commingled with marital assets. Assets acquired by either spouse after the marriage are generally marital property unless the asset is an inheritance or a gift received by just one spouse, or if the spouses agree to keep the property separate. In these cases, just as with assets owned prior to the marriage, the asset cannot be commingled with marital property and still remain non-marital.
As an example, if Jane’s Aunt Ruth left her $50,000, either before the marriage, or after the marriage, that money would be a non-marital asset unless Jane placed the money in a joint account or used the money for a marital purchase - such as making improvements to the marital home.
If couples cannot agree on how their property will be split, the court will consider the following factors when determining whether an equal distribution is appropriate or not:
Retirement and pensions plans will also be divided and are usually regulated under federal and state laws as well as the individual plan policies. In general, anything paid into a retirement account by either spouse from the date of the marriage becomes marital property. Should the retirement accounts of both spouses be roughly equal, each spouse might be awarded his or her own retirement account.
Asset division can be crucial, as it can truly determine whether one spouse is in a financially unstable position for years after the divorce. If you are facing a divorce, getting a fair division of the marital property is extremely important to ensure your future financial security.
Spousal support in the state of Indiana is awarded only in the narrowest of circumstances - in fact, there is actually no such thing as “alimony” in the state of Indiana, however under certain circumstances, one spouse may be ordered to make spousal maintenance payments to the other. Each divorce is different, and the specific circumstances of each couple are different as well. In general, spousal support is only ordered by the court in the following circumstances:
The court will look at each spouse’s education as well as the work experience and skills each possesses. The court will look at the amount of time each spouse was employed or unemployed while raising the couple’s children. Finally, the projected cost of vocational training or other educational needs for the dependent spouse could also be a consideration. Because there is no precise formula for figuring spousal maintenance under Indiana law, the judge in the case has a significant amount of latitude in handling spousal maintenance requests.
Physical custody refers to the home where the child or children primarily physically reside. Legal custody refers to the big decisions made on behalf of the child or children regarding their educational, religious, medical and cultural upbringing.
In Indiana, a joint custody award means the parties will share custody to a certain degree, while sole custody means one parent is given most or all of the parental rights. If the parents can agree between themselves on custody issues, then a judge will not be required to make those decisions for them.
Judges may obtain help when making custody decisions from private evaluators, counselors, court-appointed guardians and/or social service agencies. The judge may also order counseling for children who are having trouble coping with the divorce. Judges may consider the following factors when deciding on child custody:
A judge will award joint legal custody if it is in the children’s best interests, and if it is clear the parents are able to get along with one another. The judge will look at the fitness and suitability of each parent as well as whether the parents are willing and able to cooperate and communicate for the benefit of the children. Other factors will be whether the children live close to one another, the nature of the physical and emotional environment in each parent’s home, and whether the child has established a close relationship with each parent.
If one parent is awarded physical custody, the other will be awarded reasonable parenting time unless that parenting time would place the children’s physical health in danger or significantly impair the child’s emotional development. If it is determined the child’s physical or emotional health could be damaged by visitation, then the judge may order supervised parenting time.
An annulment is different from a divorce because rather than ending the marriage, an annulment simply means there was no valid marriage in the first place. In the state of Indiana, a marriage may be annulled for any of the following reasons:
To obtain an annulment in the state of Indiana, you will first need to meet the residency requirements of residing in the state for six months and in the county where you are filing for a minimum of 3 months. You will then need to file a written petition, identifying your reason for requesting the annulment. This petition for annulment will need to be served on your spouse, allowing him/her to respond. The matter will then be heard by a judge in the superior court in your county. When the judge signs the annulment, it is as if the marriage had never existed.
While not all states recognize legal separation, the state of Indiana does. A legal separation in the state of Indiana allows a married couple to live apart from one another while making the decision as to whether to stay married. To be granted a legal separation in Indiana, the court must find that the marriage conditions are intolerable enough to prevent the couple from living together, but that the marriage should be maintained for the time being.
Although a legal separation is not required for a divorce, such a separation can help the court determine that the marriage is irretrievably broken. The legal separation will detail temporary spousal support, child custody and visitation, and child support. An Indiana legal separation lasts no more than one year and only as long as neither spouse files for divorce; after a year the couple must decide to stay together or divorce. Even though the separated couple is living apart, they are still legally married. This means any debts incurred are considered marital debts.