Published in Family Law on October 2, 2015.
Almost every day someone contacts Eskew Law LLC in wanting to know how to get a divorce in the State of Indiana. We are going to cover some of the obvious, “frequently asked questions” as well as some things that may help make what is otherwise a rough transition easier. Keep in mind that each and every case is different and requirements in one case may not exist in another. Consult an experienced family law attorney before engaging in this process if you have any questions whatsoever.
Indiana requires residency in the State and County where you want to get divorced. Our legislature has required at least six months in the state and at least three months in the county. While each county has their own local rules which vary from county to county, the courts are fairly consistent on a few points discussed in this post.
You’ll have to pay a filing fee when you file your documents. This filing fee will usually cover some form of service on your spouse as well as reserve a cause number for your divorce in the form of the following. I have created a fictitious cause number to explain the information to explain how these work:
- 49 is the county, this is Marion County’s number if you were to look on the alphabetical list of counties. Adams would be 1, Allen 2, Huntington 35, etc…
- D is the court type. For most domestic relations this will be either a D for Superior Court or C for Circuit court.
- YY is the year the case was originally filed. For 2015, it will be 15.
- MM is the month the case was filed 1 through 12
- DR is the type of case. In this instance it is Domestic Relations, but may also be GU for Guardianship, JP for Juvenile Paternity or any of a myriad of other options depending on if it is criminal or not.
- 000001 is the case filing number. This how many cases have been filed of this type since January 1 of that year.
As for the documents to be filed for a divorce, need to file you’ll need to file a summons, and a verified petition for dissolution. The Indiana Supreme Court has these document for download on their website though it is often advantageous to have an attorney fill them out for you. Your attorney will also be able to file his or her appearance at the same time. This makes sure that all notices go to your attorney. An advantages since there are several deadlines to be aware of.
You’re likely, shortly after the filing, to be required by your local county to complete a financial declaration form. And, if children are involved in your case, to complete a Co-Parenting course. Various counties have specific requirements in this regard so you may want to check with your attorney to make sure you’re completing the necessary filings and courses. Additionally some counties automatically issue a restraining order against the disposal of property so that the marital estate is preserved.
Indiana also requires a sixty day waiting period before the court can grant a divorce. This means the sooner you file, the sooner you’re eligible for dissolution.
Discovery is the process whereby attorneys learn about the case. While your attorney should sit down with you and learn all there is to know, it is often more expedient to look at financial documents from both you and your spouse. You should be prepared to provide financial information on all debts and assets as Indiana Law uses a “single pot” theory to determine the marital estate.
Usually, you’re going to be ordered to some form of alternative dispute resolution, the most common is mediation. It is important to have your discovery completed before entering in mediation as this is the best way to ensure a successful mediation. You should try hard to resolve your case in mediation as the costs of mediation are far lower than the costs of a full hearing. You should also look at the cost of what you are arguing over and the cost of continuing to pay your attorney to argue over an item. I am willing to argue for whatever you want me to within ethical bounds, however it does not make sense to pay me more than the cost of purchasing a new item (whatever you’re arguing over). If you successfully mediate, i.e. come to an agreement, then your order will be delivered to the court for approval. Assuming judge approval (which approval is rarely denied) your case will be over. You should be aware that when an agreement is reached, you may not be able to seek redress on an issue through the court of appeals.
Assuming that mediation is unsuccessful, the traditional next step is to pursue a final hearing. These are often set for either a half or full day on the court’s calendar. Depending on the court and county you may have to go through a third and second choice date before being granted a final date. Courts do this to ensure that every minute of available court time is used. The busier your local court house, the more likely you are to have several settings.
At the final hearing you can expect to face direct and cross examination on financial and child related issues. It is important that you’ve worked out a consistent and logical position on these issues as the court will be making orders based in large part on your and your spouse’s testimony.
You’ll also want to be sure you have the right exhibits to support your testimony or contradict the other party’s testimony. This is an important part and the source of these items is often the discovery process.
Once the court has issued its final order, you’ll be divorced. That said, a party may seek redress from the court of appeals. The more one party gets everything they asked for, the more likely the other party is to appeal the decision. Usually in family law cases, the court will leave both parties unhappy with the court’s order. You should also keep in mind that you will have a window of thirty (30) days from the court order to file your appeal. Your attorney can help you spot the issues as well as deal with finding an attorney who regularly practices appellate law. The thirty day window for appeal is not likely one that can be extended.