Divorce in Indiana: everything you need to know
From filing and records to costs and more, this guide will take you through divorce in Indiana and help you make informed decisions.
There are two types of divorce in Indiana – fault and no-fault.
The median cost of divorce in the US is $7,000, but this can fluctuate massively depending on your unique circumstances.
Indiana divorce law requires a separation period of 60 days before a divorce can be finalized.
A financial advisor can help you navigate your finances during a divorce and rebuild afterward.
What are the different types of divorce in Indiana?
Indiana recognizes two types of divorce: fault and no-fault.
A fault divorce is based on the grounds that one spouse has committed wrongdoing that caused the breakdown of the marriage, such as adultery, cruelty, abandonment, or conviction of a felony.
A fault divorce may require a longer and more expensive process, as the spouse who files for divorce (the petitioner) has to prove the fault of the other spouse (the respondent) and the respondent may contest the allegations.
A no-fault divorce is based on the grounds that the marriage is irretrievably broken and there is no reasonable possibility of reconciliation.
A no-fault divorce may be simpler and faster, as the spouses only have to agree that the marriage is over and cooperate on the terms of the divorce, such as property division, child custody, and spousal support.
Indiana also offers a simplified divorce option for couples who meet certain criteria, such as:
Having no minor or dependent children together
Having no joint property or debt
Having been married for less than five years
Agreeing to waive the right to spousal support
Agreeing to a written settlement of all issues
A simplified divorce can be completed in as little as 60 days and may not require a court hearing.
How do you file for divorce in Indiana?
To file for divorce in Indiana, you or your spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least six months and of the county where you file for at least three months.
You must also pay a filing fee, which varies by county but is typically around $150.
The basic steps to file for divorce in Indiana are:
Prepare the divorce papers, which include the petition for dissolution of marriage, the summons, and any other forms required by your county. You can find the forms online or at your local courthouse. You can also hire an attorney or use an online service to help you with the paperwork.
File the divorce papers with the clerk of the court in the county where you or your spouse live. You will receive a case number, and a judge will be assigned to your case.
Serve the divorce papers on your spouse, either by personal delivery, certified mail, sheriff, or process server. You must provide proof of service to the court.
Wait for your spouse's response, which must be filed within 20 days of receiving the divorce papers. Your spouse can either agree or disagree with the terms of the divorce or request a hearing to resolve any disputes.
Complete the divorce process, which may involve attending a hearing, mediation, or trial, depending on the level of agreement or disagreement between you and your spouse. The judge will review the evidence and testimony and issue a final decree of divorce, which will state the terms and conditions of the divorce, such as property division, child custody, and spousal support.
How much does a divorce cost in Indiana?
The cost of divorce in Indiana varies depending on the type of divorce, the involvement of an attorney, the number and complexity of the issues, and the fees and expenses of the court and other professionals.
According to a 2019 survey by Martindale-Nolo Research, the average cost of divorce in Indiana was $11,400, including $9,800 in attorney's fees. However, the cost ranged from $1,100 to $25,000, depending on the circumstances of each case.
Some of the factors that can affect the cost of divorce in Indiana are:
The filing fee is charged by the court to initiate the divorce case. The fee varies by county but is typically around $150.
The service fee is charged by the person or entity that delivers the divorce papers to your spouse. The fee may range from $20 to $100, depending on the method of service.
The attorney's fee is charged by the lawyer who represents you or assists you with the divorce paperwork. The fee may vary depending on the experience and reputation of the attorney, the complexity of the case, and the billing method. Some attorneys charge a flat fee for an uncontested divorce, while others charge an hourly rate for a contested divorce. The average hourly rate for a divorce attorney in Indiana was $260 in 2019, according to the same survey.
The mediation fee is charged by the mediator who helps you and your spouse negotiate the terms of the divorce. The fee may depend on the qualifications and experience of the mediator, the duration and frequency of the sessions, and the complexity of the issues. The average cost of mediation in Indiana was $2,500 in 2019, according to the same survey.
The expert fee is charged by the professional who provides specialized services or opinions related to the divorce, such as an appraiser, an accountant, a therapist, or a child custody evaluator. The fee may vary depending on the type and scope of the service, the credentials and reputation of the expert, and the complexity of the case.
The court or other entities charge the miscellaneous fee for various services or documents related to the divorce, such as copies, transcripts, subpoenas, depositions, or certificates.
You may be able to reduce the cost of divorce in Indiana by choosing a no-fault divorce, reaching an agreement with your spouse on the terms of the divorce, representing yourself without an attorney, using an online service or a paralegal to prepare the divorce papers, and avoiding unnecessary litigation or delays.
How do you split assets and debts in a divorce in Indiana?
Indiana is an equitable distribution state, which means that the court will divide the marital property and debt between the spouses fairly and reasonably, but not necessarily equally.
The court will consider several factors, such as:
The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, preservation, or increase of the property, including the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker.
The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time of the division, including the earning ability, income, and liabilities.
The conduct of the spouses during the marriage, especially if it resulted in the dissipation or waste of the property.
The tax consequences of the property division.
Any other relevant factors that the court deems appropriate.
The court will only divide the marital property and debt, which is the property and debt acquired by either spouse during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the title or account.
The court will not divide the separate property and debt, which is the property and debt owned by either spouse before the marriage or acquired by either spouse during the marriage by gift, inheritance, or agreement.
How does alimony work in Indiana?
Alimony, also known as spousal maintenance, is a financial support that one spouse may pay to the other during or after the divorce. The purpose of alimony is to help the receiving spouse meet their reasonable needs and maintain a similar standard of living as they had during the marriage.
However, alimony is not a right or an entitlement in Indiana. The court has the discretion to decide whether to award alimony, how much, and for how long, depending on the circumstances of each case. Indiana law limits the situations in which alimony may be granted as follows:
Temporary alimony: The court may order one spouse to pay temporary alimony to the other while the divorce is pending. The amount and duration of temporary alimony will depend on the needs and resources of each spouse, as well as the standard of living established during the marriage.
Rehabilitative alimony: The court may order one spouse to pay rehabilitative alimony to the other for a short period of time after the divorce if the receiving spouse needs support to acquire education, training, or employment to become self-supporting. Rehabilitative alimony cannot exceed three years unless the court finds exceptional circumstances.
Incapacity alimony: The court may order one spouse to pay incapacity alimony to the other for an indefinite period of time after the divorce if the receiving spouse is physically or mentally incapacitated and cannot work. The court will consider the nature and extent of the incapacity, the ability of the paying spouse to provide support, and the duration of the marriage.
Disability alimony: The court may order one spouse to pay disability alimony to the other for an indefinite period of time after the divorce if the receiving spouse is the custodial parent of a child who is physically or mentally disabled and cannot work. The court will consider the needs of the child, the ability of the paying spouse to provide support, and the duration of the marriage.
What happens to children during a divorce in Indiana?
Child custody refers to the legal and physical care of the children after the divorce.
The court will decide the custody arrangement based on the best interests of the child, taking into account several factors, such as:
The age and sex of the child
The wishes of the child and the parents
The relationship of the child with the parents and siblings
The adjustment of the child to the home, school, and community
The mental and physical health of the child and the parents
The evidence of domestic violence, abuse, or neglect
Any other relevant factors that the court deems appropriate
Indiana recognizes two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody.
The court may award joint or sole custody to either or both parents, depending on the best interests of the child.
How to protect your finances when going through a divorce in Indiana
Going through a divorce can be a stressful and challenging time, especially when it comes to finances.
You may have many questions and concerns about how to protect your assets, manage your debts, and plan for your future.
Here are some ways you can protect your money when going through a divorce:
Organize your finances: Before filing for divorce, gather all relevant financial information and documents, such as tax returns, bank statements, credit card bills, and retirement accounts. Make a list of all assets and liabilities, both marital and non-marital. This will help you and your spouse negotiate a fair distribution of property and debts.
Consider mediation: Mediation is a process where you and your spouse work with a neutral third party to resolve issues related to your divorce, such as property division, alimony, child custody, and child support. Mediation can be less time-consuming, less expensive, and less stressful than going to court. It can also help you maintain a cooperative relationship with your spouse after the divorce.
Think about Social Security: If you have been married for at least 10 years, you may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record. This can provide valuable income during retirement, especially if your ex-spouse earned more than you. However, certain criteria must be met to qualify for this benefit.
Seek professional help: Divorce can significantly impact your financial situation. Consider consulting with a financial advisor specializing in divorce to help you navigate these changes and plan for your future.
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