Saturday, February 2, 2008

Indiana Divorce FAQ

I am not trying for detail in this set of Frequently Asked Questions. If I could put the details into one post, then there would be no need for this blog! No, I am trying improve upon what I did before here and here. I also am trying to use the common FAQ format.

How long do I have to live in Indiana before I can file for divorce?

Six months in the state and three months in the county.

What are the grounds for divorce?

We call Indiana a no-fault divorce state. All that needs done is say that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

What does "irretrievable breakdown of the marriage" mean?

I say think of Humpty-Dumpty - there is no way to put the marriage back together. For a more formal definition, take a look at my post Defining Some Legal Terms for the Divorce Case.

What does it mean to be a Petitioner and a Respondent?

Read my post Defining Some Legal Terms for the Divorce Case for a formal definition of Petitioner and Respondent. The Petitioner chooses the filing of Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, whether the divorce becomes final, and (generally) the court that will hear the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. A Respondent merely follows the lead of the Petitioner.

What is the difference between a contested divorce and an uncontested divorce?

The contest in a contested divorce is not about whether the court will or will not dissolve the marriage. Unless the Petitioner says the marriage is not irretrievably broken, the court will dissolve the marriage. The issues open for a contest are dividing property and debt, child custody, and with the right facts - visitation (parenting time).

For an uncontested divorce, the parties agree to division of their property and (if they have children) custody and parenting time and child support. For a bit more detail see my FAQ: The Uncontested Divorce.

How do I start a dissolution of marriage?

First, your attorney prepares a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage for you to sign. Second, that Petition, a Summons, and the money for the court costs are taken to the lcoal courthouse for filing. Those are the first steps. I have more detail in Divorce: Starting the process.

How long does it take to get divorced in Indiana?

It cannot take less than 60 days but it can take more depending on issues contested and the availability of the judge to hear the case.. I have a bit more detail here.

What is the provisional hearing?

The provisional hearing deals with the temporary matters that need to be taken care of before the Final Hearing: getting the property necessary to live; temporary child support and custody and parenting time; and temporary maintenance. I have more details here.

I do not want to take all of my spouses property.

You cannot do that. Indiana law presumes a 50-50 split of the property. I suggest reading FAQ: Property Division for the exceptions.

Does Indiana Have Alimony?

No, Indiana does not have alimony but it does have maintenance. I have an alimony FAQ here.

What is maintenance?

Its purpose is to give financial support to a spouse. Indiana allows a court to impose two types of maintenance. Temporary maintenance runs from the provisional hearing till the Final Hearing. Maintenance after the Final Hearing requires special circumstances. I have FAQ: Maintenance to explain this in more detail.

Do I Need a Lawyer to File a Divorce?

No, you do not. If you think you can prepare the documents properly, get them filed and represent yourself, then you could handle the divorce on your own. I strongly urge anyone whose case involves children and/or real estate that they get an attorney. What you save will be quickly eaten up if you or your spouse foul up the proceedings. If you persist in representing yourself, please read the articles (and there a few of them) I have written about pro se parties here.

What Will I Pay in Child Support?

I have no way of telling without seeing numbers. Indiana has no set amount of child support for a particular number of children. I suggest you read my FAQ: Child Support for the details on setting child support. Indiana has an online child support calculator here and you can find the Indiana Child Support Guidelines (our rules on how to set child support) here.

What Will Be My Visitation?

Indiana law now calls visitation, parenting time. No longer do we have county guidelines but we do have state rules that actually cover more than visitation. These Guidelines breakdown by age of the child and type of visitation. You will need to read them and they can be found online here.

Will I Have to Pay My Spouse's Fees?

Indiana law allows for attorney fees. The trial court can order attorney fees for the entire divorce case. Parties’ incomes determine how the court orders attorney fees except for contempt. (Contempt is about enforcing the court’s orders and it will depend on winning the case rather than the income of the parties.) If one party has a great deal less of an income, the other party needs to expect to pay attorney fees.

What Will Happen at The Final Hearing?

Answering that about your particular case requires knowing about your particular case. I can say the marriage will end, property and debts will be divided, and orders on custody and child support and parenting time, if there are children. You might also want to read my FAQ: The Final Hearing - Do We Really Have to Go Court?

What do I do if I want to keep up on the news about Indiana divorce law or get more information?

The easiest thing for keeping up to date is use the e-mail subscription service to get e-mail updates of this blog. You go to the top of the right hand column and you will see where to sign up for e-mail updates. You can also see my other articles on prenuptial agreements by clicking the link below that reads "Divorce general". Or go down the right hand side until you get to the Archives by Subject and read more detailed and specific articles by subject.

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