If spouses have decided to end their marriage in Indiana, they can be overwhelmed when figuring out what to do next. Many people realize they are better off with a lawyer than doing this on their own. A divorce lawyer can lead them through the process step-by-step.
In Indiana, spouses can have a divorce by agreement, which is known as an uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, all the issues are settled between the spouses. The major issues are resolved and minor issues, such as who gets what item of personal property — usually property of little value — can be worked out later if they get along.
The issues which are resolved by agreement in an uncontested divorce are:
The parties can agree to divide their personal property as they see fit, or they can specify the personal property in the agreement. Division of assets, listed above, often refers to larger assets, such as cars and a home.
An uncontested divorce is filed on the ground of no-fault divorce. A no-fault divorce is based on the “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage,” which means the marriage is beyond repair. Parties cannot claim grounds for divorce other than no-fault grounds, because other grounds change an uncontested divorce into a contested divorce.
Uncontested divorces have advantages that contested, or disputed, divorces do not. Divorces that are uncontested are quicker and cost less money than contested divorces. They are less painful and more private, as spouses won’t need to be on a witness stand to air their “dirty laundry.” A spouse can be divorced 60 days after the divorce petition is filed so long as there is an agreement between the spouses that settles everything.
The petition for divorce is known as the petition for dissolution of marriage. If the divorce is uncontested, spouses can have what is called a “summary dissolution.” In a summary dissolution, the parties have waived a trial, and they have resolved all issues by agreement. By doing so, they have removed a lot of the animosity from the divorce.
A divorce is contested if it is based on something other than the no-fault claim of “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.” Divorces can be contested in two ways: 1) if the couple cannot come to an agreement, and/or 2) if a party chooses to pursue a ground for divorce and not pursue a no-fault divorce. The only grounds for divorce in Indiana other than a no-fault divorce are:
A contested divorce often includes a trial on major issues such as custody, visitation and support. A contested divorce also could require mediation before a trial. This type of divorce is time-consuming, costly, and nerve-wracking because spouses have to testify at trial. Spouses may need to get witnesses who will testify on their behalf, and they will need lawyers who aren’t afraid to push for what they want.
Many times, a contested divorce settles right before trial. A complete settlement which occurs before trial can change the divorce into an uncontested divorce, saving the couple money, time and the anxiety of having to go head-to-head against the other party.
It’s difficult to see how there are advantages of a contested divorce, but in some cases going to trial makes sense. These are cases where a spouse may be hiding assets or where there is a lot at stake and one spouse wants an agreement which appears unfair. It can be a good idea to go to trial instead of having to take an agreement that is forced upon one of the parties.
If one of the parties thinks the other is hiding assets, such as bank accounts or off-shore accounts, a contested divorce is advantageous because the parties will be allowed to have discovery. In discovery, the party requesting it can ask for production of documents, such as savings accounts, or can ask a series of written questions, called interrogatories. A party can also have a deposition to get pre-trial testimony of the other party. This can help the party’s lawyer prepare for trial.
Our divorce attorney is experienced at getting the best settlement for you or in taking your case to trial. The attorney will work with you to help resolve your divorce case. Contact Hains Law, LLC today to learn what we can do for your case.