Getting divorced in Indiana is similar to getting divorced in most other states.
In Indiana, a divorce is called a dissolution of marriage. A divorce for any married couple will accomplish two things:
- Sever the marital relationship
- Divide assets and debts
If the couple was married for a significant length of time and one of them is unable to be self-supporting after the divorce, the issue of alimony may also arise. If there are minor children, they will also need to resolve issues of child custody, visitation, and support.
Where to file for divorce in Indiana
In order to file for dissolution of marriage in Indiana, either you or your spouse must be a resident of Indiana for at least six months, and a resident of the county for at least three months. You may file in a county where either of you meets the residency requirements. Depending upon the county, you will file in the Superior Court, Circuit Court, or Domestic Relations Court.
Grounds for divorce in Indiana
Grounds for divorce are legally recognized reasons to get a divorce. This is the justification for severing the marital relationship. Indiana, like most states, has what are commonly called no-fault grounds for divorce, and several traditional fault-based grounds.
To get a no-fault divorce in Indiana you need to state in the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage that “there has been an irretrievable breakdown.”
The only fault-based grounds for dissolution are conviction of a felony subsequent to marriage, impotence at the time of marriage, and incurable insanity for two years. However, in most cases, there is no reason to use these, since they add complexity to the process by requiring proof.
The divorce procedure in Indiana
The most simple procedure is for an uncontested divorce. This is where you and your spouse can reach an agreement about the division of your property, and, if you have any children, what arrangements will be made for them.
You begin the divorce procedure by preparing a document called a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, along with various other supporting documents. For an uncontested divorce, one of these documents will be a marital settlement agreement outlining the division of assets (and your agreement regarding any children). These documents are filed with the court, and copies of them are provided to your spouse. You will attend a court hearing, at which time the judge will make sure that all of your paperwork is in order, perhaps ask you a few questions, and enter your Final Dissolution of Marriage Decree.
Property division in Indiana
A dissolution involves dividing property and debts between you and your spouse. Under Indiana law, even property you owned before the marriage is marital property, although when you acquired it may be considered in dividing property. There is a presumption that equal distribution of property is appropriate. If the judge orders an unequal distribution, he or she must justify the decision by reference to the following factors:
- Each party’s contribution to the acquisition of the property
- Whether the property was acquired before the marriage or by inheritance or gift
- Each party’s economic circumstances at the time the property disposition is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family residence, or the right to live in it, for such periods as is just to the spouse having custody of any children
- Each party’s conduct during the marriage as related to the disposition or dissipation of their property
- Each party’s earnings or earning ability
- The tax consequences of the property disposition
Alimony in Indiana
Alimony is called maintenance in Indiana. According to Indiana law, maintenance may only be awarded if the party seeking it:
- Is physically or mentally incapacitated to the extent that the ability to be self-supporting is materially affected (in which case maintenance will be ordered during the period incapacity)
- Lacks sufficient property, including marital property apportioned to the party, to provide for his or her needs, and is the custodian of a child whose physical or mental incapacity requires the custodian to forgo employment.
Up to three years of rehabilitative maintenance, in an amount the judge finds appropriate, may be ordered after the judge considers:
- Each party’s educational level at the time of marriage and at the time of filing
- Whether an interruption in the education, training, or employment of the party seeking maintenance was due to homemaking or child care responsibilities during the marriage
- Each party’s earning capacity, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, and length of presence in or absence from the job market
- The time and expense necessary for the party seeking maintenance to acquire sufficient education or training to find appropriate employment
Child custody in Indiana
If you and your spouse have any minor children, there will have to be a custody determination. It basically comes down to figuring out how the children’s time will be divided between the parents, and how decisions will be made.
If you and your spouse are unable to agree on custody, the judge will determine the matter according to what is in the child’s best interests, after considering the following factors:
- Age and sex of the child
- Wishes of the child's parent or parents
- Wishes of the child, with more consideration given if the child is at least age 14
- Relationship of the child with the parties, any siblings, or other significant person
- Child's adjustment to home, school, and community
- Mental and physical health of all individuals involved
- Evidence of a pattern of domestic or family violence by either parent
- Evidence that the child has been cared for by a de facto custodian (in which case more factors come into play)
- Any other relevant factor
Child support in Indiana
Child support is determined by referring to the Indiana Child Support Guidelines, which may be available from the court clerk’s office.
If reconciliation seems possible, the judge may continue the case and order the parties to counseling. After 45 days, either party may move for dissolution, and if neither party does so within 90 days, the case is dismissed. No court hearing may be held until at least 60 days after the Petition for Dissolution is filed.
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