If you are going to file for divorce in the state of Indiana it worth to know all the possible ways of how to arrange this process. Although divorce is never easy (both emotionally and practically) it still may be less stressful and more straightforward if you are well-informed and prepared. So, let’s sort out the most vital features of filing for divorce in Indiana.
Contested VS Uncontested divorce
In general, there are two main types of divorce in the US – they are contested and uncontested divorce.
- A contested divorce is something that people typically imagine when they hear a word “divorce.” It implies that the spouses entrust all the decisions over the most disputed issues of their case to the judge, so a number of mandatory court hearings are ordered. Both parties have to attend the hearings; however, they don’t actively participate in discussion since they usually hire attorneys to represent their interests before the court. So it’s no wonder that contested divorces may take a lot of time (up to 12 months or even more) as well as huge amounts of money, as family attorneys usually charge hourly fees.
- An uncontested divorce, on contrary, implies that the spouses are agree to divorce and ready to settle their differences out of court, more or less independently. They should decide all the important issues concerning child custody, spousal support, property division (and many other questions which are decided by the judge in case of contested divorce) in advance. It is possible with the help of official written Marital Settlement Agreement the parties should create, notarize, and submit to the judge. Surely, it may be difficult to negotiate with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse, to try to compromise and reach an agreement, but it is a chance to avoid court battles and huge expenses. Also, an uncontested divorce, being a civilized and more amicable way to terminate the marriage, is definitely favorable for the spouses who have minor children.
An uncontested divorce is the most popular type of divorce nationwide and in the state of Indiana in particular, due to its affordability. Indiana family law welcomes uncontested divorces, and Indiana courts especially encourage the divorcing parents to decide the terms of child custody and parenting time by themselves, since it is in the best interest of the child. In the end, who should understand their child’s needs better? Not to mention the fact that smooth relationship between the parents helps the child to overcome a divorce, and namely an uncontested divorce can give such an opportunity.
Step by Step
So, let’s concentrate on uncontested divorce in Indiana and sort out the key facts about the process.
Here are the main steps you should take in order to arrange a divorce in Indiana with no hassle:
- Choose an appropriate ground for divorce
The state of Indiana recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. This means that the Plaintiff (the spouse who initiates a divorce lawsuit) may either blame the other spouse for the marriage breakdown or not. If a divorce is uncontested the Plaintiff should point out the no-fault ground of “Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage” in the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This no-fault ground implies that the marriage can’t be fixed, no one is to blame, and so, you won’t have to wash your dirty linen in public.
Fault grounds are usually used in contested divorces. According to the Indiana Family Code, they include:
– The conviction of either of the parties, subsequent to the marriage, of a felony.
– Impotence, existing at the time of the marriage.
– Incurable insanity of either party for a period of at least two years.
Each of the fault-based grounds must be proved with the strong evidences before the court, so this obviously leads to contesting the case.
- File for divorce
You should point out the chosen ground for divorce in the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and submit it to the court (Supreme Court or Circuit Court, depending on your current county of residence). Your set of divorce paperwork should be based on unique circumstances of your case. Some forms, for example, Summons or Decree of Dissolution of Marriage, are basic, while Verified Waiver of Final Hearing is needed to be filed just in case of uncontested divorce. Also, there is special form for the spouses who have minor children (Appearance Not for Public Access Form), and a lot of other forms and attachments depending on the terms of your divorce. In addition, different forms should be filed in different time. While the Petition and Summons are filed first (in order to start a divorce process), the Waiver of Final Hearing, Settlement Agreement, and Decree of Dissolution of Marriage must be filed with the court after the mandatory 60-days waiting period which begins at the moment of filing the petition in Indiana.
- Serve your spouse
Summons is the form aimed to notify your spouse about the divorce process. Along with a copy of the Petition, it should be delivered to your spouse by certified mail, private process service, or by sheriff’s deputy. After the spouse is served with this paperwork he/she has 30 days to file an answer. Otherwise, the divorce can be granted by default and the Defendant (the non-filing spouse) loses his/her chance to express their opinion regarding some important issues.
- Finalizing a divorce
After 60 days the spouses should submit all the prepared and stamped by the court clerk paperwork to the court. The judge reviews the forms and Settlement Agreement, and if he/she finds it fair and sufficient, the divorce may be granted without hearing. The divorce is final when the judge signs the Final Divorce Order, and the spouses get official copies of this document.
Make It Easier
Although an uncontested divorce is much quicker and cheaper than a contested one it still has its pitfalls. Yes, an uncontested divorce can be arrange 100% independently, without a lawyer (a so-called DIY divorce), however if the spouses are not informed enough they may make a lot of mistakes in their divorce forms, so they will have to start all over again. The notorious red tape is still here and even if your case is simple enough (for example, if you have not children or a lot of property to divide in a divorce), you will have to face with plenty of forms, documents, terms and deadlines, what can be pretty confusing. But as an uncontested and especially do-it-yourself divorce gains its popularity, the new methods aimed to help with this process occur as well. Online divorce is one of them.
Online divorce companies are the websites which provide a service of divorce paperwork preparation. The point is that the divorce paperwork package is customized according to the circumstances of your case automatically, after a short online interview. The questions you need to answer take into account your location and other conditions (like, whether you have children, whether you or your spouse is a service member, and so on), so the service can select the needed documents in conformity with the laws and rules of your county and other requirements. It is a real godsend for the people who hate wasting time on paperwork. In addition, such services are usually quite cheap and provide the ready-to-sign documents just after two days.
Another helping hand is e-filing. Now, it is available nearly in every county of Indiana. You may choose an electronic service provider, to register, and file your divorce petition online.
For those spouses who are able to reach an agreement and don’t want to spend a lot of money on attorneys but still experience some difficulties with their Settlement Agreement or Parenting plan there are some options too.
For example, you can hire an attorney to do only a certain part of your divorce, for example, the division of property or business ownership, child custody arrangement, etc. Some legal companies offer arrangements where clients can receive advice or have particular parts of their divorce completed. You will save some money and will be sure that the most complicated issues of your divorce case are settled in the best way. In general, the most common mistake of DIY divorce is overestimating of your capabilities. You should be careful and take responsibility only for those parts of the process with which you can definitely cope with.
Another helpful option, especially for the divorcing parents, is divorce mediation. This is an alternative dispute resolution. Unlike involving attorneys, mediation is cheaper, and the mediators’ fees are charged from the couple, not from each spouse separately. Divorce mediation implies that the spouses negotiate under the guidance of a qualified mediator who is not allowed to order something, to take someone’s side or even to give a legal advice, but he/she leads the discussion and helps to find mutually beneficial resolutions. Mediator facilitates honest discussion, and helps spouses to write their Settlement Agreement or Parenting Plan. In some Indiana counties divorce mediation may be even required by the court if the judge finds in necessary.