When getting divorced, understanding what you can expect at each step along the way can help the process go more smoothly. From the legal requirements to the practicalities of attempting to resolve differences with your soon-to-be-former spouse, going through a divorce involves a number of issues that require careful planning and consideration. This article provides a brief overview of the process of getting divorced in Indiana.
Importantly, while these are the steps that are typically involved in a divorce, the circumstances of your divorce may require something different. For legal advice tailored to your personal circumstances, you should speak with a local divorce attorney.
If you are thinking about filing for divorce, preparing in advance will help ensure that you have adequate time to think about what you want out of the process, and it will allow you to take any proactive steps that may be necessary to help you obtain your desired outcome. If your spouse has filed for divorce already, you will need to abide by the relevant deadlines. But, if you are intending to file, it is important to understand that the process can – and often should – start before you formally file for divorce. Learn more: 4 Ways You Can Plan Ahead for Your Divorce.
Once you are ready, you will begin the formal divorce process by filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, Summons, Financial Declaration, and any other necessary forms. While these forms are available online through the Indiana judiciary’s website, it is best to have them prepared by an attorney who is experienced in navigating the divorce process and dealing with the local courts. For individuals who are not members of the military, these forms must be filed in your county of residence, and you must have lived in the county for a minimum of three months (and in Indiana for a minimum of six months).
Once one spouse files for divorce, he or she must then serve a copy of the divorce filing on his or her husband or wife. This can be done by certified mail, by hiring a private process server or by engaging the services of the local sheriff. Service of process starts the clock ticking on the non-filing spouse’s response. While this is often a matter of formality – particularly where the spouses are still living together and/or are in agreement that they should get divorced – if you run into issues serving your spouse, you may need to ask the court for assistance.
As part of filing for divorce, both spouses will be required to provide financial disclosures. This includes disclosing all sources of income and providing a list of assets and debts. It is important that you take the time to provide accurate and complete financial disclosures, as any apparent attempt to hide assets or income in your divorce can lead to negative consequences. If, upon receiving your spouse’s financial disclosures, you are concerned that he or she may be withholding information, there are forensic and legal means available for ensuring that you receive the information to which you are legally entitled.
If necessary, you or your spouse can request a provisional hearing before the judge presiding over your case. During the provisional hearing, one or both spouses can request that the judge enter a formal order establishing the parties’ respective rights and responsibilities (e.g., regarding parenting time and financial support) during the divorce process. When your divorce is over, the order from your provisional hearing will be superseded by your final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.
In order to distribute your “marital pot” and establish rights with regard to spousal maintenance (alimony), child custody and child support, you will need to attempt to reach an amicable resolution with your spouse. Most couples, even those that seem to be completely at odds, will be successful in doing so through private negotiations, mediation or the collaborative law process. For more information about each of these options, you can read: Should You Consider a Collaborative Divorce?
Even if you and your spouse are able to quickly come to terms, Indiana has a 60-day waiting period between the filing of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and the date on which the court can issue a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. However, if necessary, you seek a court order in the interim to ensure that your spouse will not attempt to renege on the terms you’ve negotiated.
If you and your spouse are unable to come to terms amicably despite your best efforts, then you will need to go to court. By its nature, divorce litigation is often contentious and time-consuming; but, if it is necessary, you can ask the judge to resolve the issues you and your spouse were unable to resolve on your own.
Once all issues have been resolved (and the 60-day waiting period has expired), the judge presiding over your case will issue a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. When this Decree is issued, this means that your divorce has come to an end. The Decree will incorporate the terms you and your spouse negotiated during the divorce process (or that the judge imposed in litigation), and you and your now-former spouse will both be legally bound to the terms of the Decree.
Understandably, for many people, moving on from a divorce is a process as well. From dealing with parenting time issues to paying taxes, you will likely find that the adjustment takes time and requires answers to questions you may not have thought of while your divorce was pending. When going through a divorce, one of your primary goals should be to be as comprehensive as possible, and you should do your best to make decisions with your long-term needs and desires in mind.
If you live in Carmel, Indiana and are contemplating a divorce or have been served with divorce papers from your spouse, you can contact Hains Law, LLC for a free, no-obligation consultation. To speak with attorney Joshua R. Hains in confidence, please call (317) 688-1305 or request an appointment online today.