Beginner’s Guide to Getting Divorced in Indiana
This is a complete guide to divorce in Indiana.
In this guide, we’ll address your burning questions – including some you didn’t even think to ask.
So if you want to be certain that you have a solid understanding of divorce in Indiana, we’ve got you covered.
Let’s get started.
- The differences between divorce, annulment and separation
- What are the grounds for divorce in Indiana?
- Deciding what kind of divorce you will go through
- The process of filing for divorce
- How to complete proof of service
- Filing for a divorce online
- Filing for divorce in Indiana without using a lawyer
- How much does divorce cost in Indiana?
- How long does it take to get a divorce?
- Should I retain the services of a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst?
- Bifurcation of Marital Status
- Can I cancel, refuse, contest, stop or reverse a divorce in Indiana?
- What is a divorce decree?
- What is a divorce certificate?
- Changing Your Name
- Bonus: Recommended Resources for a Better Divorce
The differences between legal separation, annulment and divorce in Indiana
Married couples can end their marriages by divorce or annulment in Indiana. Legal separation does not end a marriage, but it is an option for couples who want a break in marital ties. There are special rules and requirements for each one and a basic understanding of each of these is a good place to begin understanding the divorce process more thoroughly.
A decree for legal separation may be sought if the circumstances of a marriage make it intolerable for the couple to live together, but they still want to maintain the marriage.
Legal separation allows the court issue orders about spousal support, a division of assets, and child visitation and custody. It also creates an enforceable court order that sets forth rights and responsibilities for both spouses.
In many cases, legal separation provides a much-needed time out that allows two people to try and resolve their issues in a less combative environment. Stepping away can often times bring added perspective about what a couple will lose in a marriage and possibly give them time to heal from the issues that caused their marriage to come under stress.
Spouses may also choose legal separation for religious reasons. Some religions do not look favorably upon divorce and staying married though legally separated puts less pressure on a couple who might otherwise be in conflict with their church and religious beliefs.
There may also be tax advantages to remaining married and if one of the spouses is not a U.S. citizen, they run the risk of deportation with a divorce. With a legal separation, a noncitizen can still stay in the country even if they don’t live with their spouse.
Indiana grants annulments that fall under two categories:
Void marriages are prohibited by law. Void marriages grounds include:
- Either party to the marriage still has a husband or wife who is still alive
- If two people are more closely related than second cousins, unless they are first cousins, and both are older than 65 years old
- Marriage was conducted in another state with the intent evade state law and to return to Indiana and reside in the state
Voidable marriages are considered valid but can be declared void in some cases. Grounds for voidable marriages may include:
- One or both spouses was under 18, unless both are at least 17 and have received consent from their parents, or if the female is at least 15 and pregnant or a mother, and the male is at least 15 and either the father or expected father of the expected child
- The marriage took place under fraudulent conditions. If fraud is uncovered, the victim may not continue to live with the other party.
- A spouse is not able to consent to the marriage because they are mentally incompetent or incapacitated
Divorce is a permanent and legal end to a marriage. In Indiana, divorce is legally referred to as Dissolution of Marriage. All ties are severed, assets are divided, custody and alimony issues are resolved, and each spouse goes their separate way after a final decree is issued.
What are the grounds for divorce in Indiana?
Indiana allows for both no-fault and fault-based divorces. The majority of divorcing couples choose no-fault divorce since it does not require a couple to reveal as many details as in a fault-based divorce. Generally, all that must be cited are irreconcilable differences for a no-fault divorce to proceed.
Some people choose to go with a fault-based divorce instead. The state allows the following reasons to be cited in a fault-based divorce.
- A felony conviction
- Incurable insanity for at least two years after the date of marriage
What are your options for divorce?
Aside from the decision to get a divorce, the single most important decision you will make is the type of divorce.
Choosing what type of divorce you want to go through is the most important decision you’ll make during the entire process.
You see, there are only two ways that you reach a final resolution:
- You and your spouse agree
- A judge decides
Those are the only two ways to get a divorce in Indiana. That’s it.
The type of divorce you choose sets the tone and shapes the outcome of your divorce. The process is the framework for how you get to a final resolution.
Here are the types of divorce:
- Do-It-Yourself Divorce: What I like to call the kitchen table divorce. This one is pretty straight forward. You don’t hire any professionals and attempt to resolve all your differences with your spouse. The biggest downside is you don’t know what you don’t know. I’d steer clear of this approach unless you don’t have kids or any money.
- Online Divorce: A far superior choice to DIY divorce. Navigating the divorce process and legal procedures can be a minefield. A good online divorce platform removes the guesswork. Through guided interviews, you’ll complete the forms while getting educated on the key legal issues in the process. This can be a great option if you have a relatively straightforward situation and you’re on the same page with your spouse.
- Litigation: The default option and also the most expensive. If you and your spouse can’t agree on one of the other options, then you’re headed for litigation. Litigation is an attorney-driven process. While the majority of cases settle before going to trial, that doesn’t mean litigation won’t wreak havoc on you and your kids. Sometimes it’s the only viable option, however. If your spouse has a high-conflict personality (narcissist, borderline, etc.) or there is domestic violence, litigation might be your only option. It’s also the right choice if your primary objective is to punish your spouse. As tempting as that might be, I encourage you to think about the big picture.
- Mediation: With mediation, you and your spouse retain a neutral professional (typically an attorney) to help facilitate agreement. The mediator will help you brainstorm options, understand each other’s perspectives, and make compromises to reach a resolution that you and your spouse can both live with.
- Collaborative Divorce: Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t just mean that you and your spouse are going to work out your divorce “collaboratively.” There’s much more to it. Collaborative divorce is a structured process that takes a team approach. Divorce is much more than a legal process. It’s about money, kids, and emotions. That’s why a Collaborative team includes collaborative lawyers, a divorce coach, and a neutral financial specialist. Unlike any other process, everyone commits not to go to court. The idea is that this removes the threat of litigation which fosters creative solutions and interest-based negotiation. It’s far and away the most supportive type of divorce.
What is the process of filing for divorce in Indiana?
Here are the basic steps you’ll need to take to file for divorce in Indiana:
Gather important information
When it comes to gathering the information you need, it’s imperative to be organized and proactive. This will give you the best chance at receiving the best possible outcome for your divorce.
Not only will this ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process, but it will also save you time, anxiety, and money (which you’ll want to save for the next parts of your divorce).
Before you jump in to collecting financial information, take the following steps:
- Open a new checking and savings account in your name alone.
- Open a credit card in your name alone.
- Order a free credit report.
- Make a list of all the assets and liabilities that you’re aware of. Include any memberships, reward points, and other perks that may be considered as assets.
If you’re in the dark about your finances, that’s okay. You and your spouse will be required to complete financial affidavits as part of the divorce process. The goal at this point is simply to begin identifying the puzzle pieces.
Okay, now it’s time to start gathering your information. Here’s a short-list of what you need:
- Tax returns (including W-2’s, K-1’s, and 1099’s) for the last 5 years
- Pay stubs for the last 3 months
- Bank statements
- Credit card statements
- Retirement account statements
- Pension plan statements
- Grant notice for stock options, RSUs, etc.
- Investment account statements
- Life insurance policies
- Mortgage statements
- Real estate appraisals
- Deeds to real estate
- Car registration
- Kelley Blue Book printouts (“private party value”)
- Car loan statements
- Social security benefit statement
Complete the initial paperwork
The exact forms you will need to complete and file will be determined by the specific circumstances of your divorce. At a minimum, you will need to file:
- Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
- Financial Declaration
If you have minor children, you will also need to file a Child Support Obligation Worksheet.
You can download the forms from the Indiana Judicial Branch’s Self-Service Center. If you are working with an attorney, they will guide you through this process.
If you are the one initiating the divorce process, you will be known as the petitioner. If your spouse is the one who files the initial papers, then you will be known as the respondent.
File your forms
After completing the appropriate forms, you will need to file them with the clerk of the court’s office in your county. You must pay the appropriate filing fees at the time you file. If you and your spouse cannot afford to pay the filing fees, you may request a waiver when you file.
The number of copies you will need to file varies by county, but Indiana has a statewide rule that says any documents containing confidential information (bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, tax records, etc.) must be printed on light green paper.
Completing proof of service in Indiana
Once your forms are filed with the court, your spouse must be notified of the pending action by serving them with a copy of the legal documents.
Service of process can also be completed by certified or express mail. The county clerk will mail the documents with a return receipt requested and records the facts of the mailing on the appearance docket.
If the spouse cannot be found after a diligent search, then the petitioner can ask the court to serve that person by publication. The clerk prepares a summons which is then published in a local newspaper for a specified amount of time. The person named in the divorce complaint has 30 days to respond after the last notice of the action has been published.
If there is no response, a judgment by default can be entered to satisfy the complaint.
Can you file for divorce online in Indiana?
You can do much of the work related to a divorce online, especially in an uncontested divorce, but ultimately forms will need to be submitted in person at your county courthouse.
Even though you need to file your forms in person, I highly recommend 3 Step Divorce to assist you in filling out your paperwork.
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- Immediate access to completed forms
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There are several online services and attorneys who will work with you online to help prep all the necessary forms you will need for your particular situation in Indiana. These entities will then prepare the forms in their office and return them to you for review, either by email, regular mail, or through an actual visit to their offices.
Filing for divorce in Indiana without using a lawyer
You can complete a divorce in Indiana without using the services of a lawyer. If you and your spouse agree on all the terms related to the dissolution of your marriage, you can submit a written settlement to the court. After a review, the court will grant the divorce without a hearing at the end of the 60-day waiting period.
If you and your spouse disagree on issues or you anticipate that the divorce will be adversarial, then it might be in your best interests to consult an attorney to make sure you are protected.
How much will it cost?
Filing fees vary by county in Indiana, ranging from $132 to $152 depending on the county where you live. If you have children, you may also have to pay to attend a parenting class for helping children get through a divorce. To find out the exact amount for your county, you will need to contact the courthouse and ask for the amount.
If you can’t afford to pay these fees, you can request a waiver that will allow you to move forward by paying no fees or reduced fees.
If there are any unresolved issues regarding your divorce, you can expect to pay legal fees to an attorney that will range from $200 to $500 per hour depending on how complex your divorce is and how many hours it will take to resolve those issues. You will probably also need to pay some sort of a retainer up front to start the process.
Fully contested divorces can run into the tens of thousands of dollars depending on how contentious the divorce is, what kind of assets are involved, and how much disagreement there is with child custody and support issues.
How long does it take to get a divorce in Indiana?
After papers have been filed, Indiana has a 60-day waiting period before a court will either grant a final decree or move forward with a hearing. The exact amount of time for an uncontested divorce to be granted may vary due to the caseload of the local court and the availability of judges to review and sign off on the final decree.
In divorces where there are disagreements over things such as a division of assets, custody or support issues and a judge must intervene, finalizing a divorce can take considerably longer.
Should I consider using a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst?
If you are going through a financially complicated divorce, you may need someone who can assist you with an accurate and objective analysis of the financial and tax implications of your decisions.
This will help you make the right decisions now when it comes to reaching a settlement with your spouse. It’s important to get this right from the start – you won’t get a second chance.
While some people with simple situations may only need a family law attorney to help them with this process, many others will benefit from working with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA), and preferably someone who is also a Certified Financial Planner (CFP).
Bifurcation of marital status in Indiana
Bifurcation means that both parties in a divorce can legally declared as a single person while the other issues in their divorce are still being worked out. It does not affect things such as child custody, visitation, child support, alimony or other contentious issues that may have stalled or become major sticking points that are keeping the divorce from being finalized. These issues are set aside and decided separately at a later date.
Bifurcation of marital status is allowed in Indiana, but state law requires that both parties file a joint motion to bifurcate a marriage.
Can I cancel, refuse, contest, stop or reverse a divorce in Indiana?
You can’t stop someone from divorcing you if that’s what they really want to do in Indiana. However, if you are attempting to reconcile with your spouse, you can request a continuance of your divorce hearing for 45 days. After this time, if one of you still wants a divorce, you can file a motion asking for the divorce to proceed.
If you don’t file a motion to proceed, the court will dismiss your divorce entirely after another 45 days, or 90 days from the date the continuance was granted.
If you are the person who filed the original complaint, you can usually stop the process by seeking a dismissal. You will need to contact the court in the county where you filed to see what their exact procedures are for doing this.
What is a divorce decree?
A Divorce Decree is the court’s final order that terminates a marriage. It provides a summary of the rights and responsibilities of each party, including financial responsibilities and a division of assets. it also covers child custody, visitation, alimony, child support and other similar issues.
Once the divorce decree is issued, parties are legally free to marry another person. The divorce decree is a legally binding document, and if either party does not meet the requirements and obligations set forth in the decree, the other party can take legal action to correct any deficiencies.
If you need to obtain a certified copy of a divorce decree, you will have to contact Clerk of the Court’s office in the county where the divorce was finalized. If you don’t live in the area anymore, you can apply for a copy by mail in most instances.
What is a divorce certificate?
As opposed to a decree which goes into details about the terms of a divorce, a certificate only includes brief and general information such as the names and dates of the divorce. A divorce certificate can provide proof of divorce for many legal purposes.
To get a copy of a divorce certificate, contact the Clerk of the Courts’ office in the county where the divorce took place.
Changing Your Name
When preparing your divorce forms, you will be presented either an option to either restore your former name or request a court order for changing names.
Name changes are granted as part of your divorce. You may either receive a separate court order making your name change official, or have your name change recorded on the final divorce decree. Both of these documents are accepted with all US organizations and agencies as evidence of your name change.
Just having a court order does not mean your name change has taken effect. You will need to contact all of your organizations to request your records are updated.
We understand that it takes a lot of time to contact each company and figure out what to send where. That’s why we recommend using an Easy Name Change kit to mitigate the 10+ hours of research and paperwork that follows.
Recommended Divorce Resources
There are a lot of resources for divorce that make big promises. We’ve tested a bunch of them. Many don’t come close to meeting our expectations. A few stand above the rest.
We’re excited to share these tools and resources with you because we’re sure that they can help you have a better divorce.
If you’re looking for recommendations in any of the following areas, we’ve got you covered:
We’ve got you covered for all kinds of recommendations:
- Online divorce
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- Masterclass on ninja tricks to negotiating with a narcissist
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- And a whole lot more