Divorce in Indiana: everything you need to know

1 min read by Unbiased team Last updated March 20, 2024

Uncover the ins and outs of the divorce process in Indiana.

Summary

  • Indiana allows two types of divorce – fault and no-fault.

  • The average cost of a divorce in Indiana can range from between $1,100 and $25,000.

  • 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.

Need help rebuilding your finances after divorce?

A financial advisor can guide you through your financial recovery both during and after your divorce.
  • Fault-based divorce

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 other spouse's fault (the respondent), and the respondent may contest the allegations.

  • No-fault divorce

A no-fault divorce is based on the grounds that the marriage is irretrievably broken and there is no 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.

  • Simplified option

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 much does a divorce cost in Indiana?

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:

  • A filing fee is charged by the court to initiate the divorce case. The fee varies by county but is typically around $177.

  • A service fee is charged by the person or entity that delivers the divorce papers to your spouse. Depending on the method of service, the fee may range from $20 to $100.

  • The attorney's fee is charged by the lawyer who represents you or assists you with the divorce paperwork. The average hourly rate for a divorce attorney in Indiana was $260 in 2019, according to the same survey.

  • The mediator who helps you and your spouse negotiate the terms of the divorce charges a fee. According to the same survey, the average cost of mediation in Indiana was $2,500 in 2019.

  • An 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 may also charge miscellaneous fees for various services or documents related to the divorce, such as copies, transcripts, subpoenas, depositions, or certificates.

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 $177.

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.

  • 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.

  • You must serve the divorce papers on your spouse, either by personal delivery, certified mail, sheriff, or process server, and 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.

  • 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 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; it will not divide the separate property and debt.

How does alimony work in Indiana?

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 the other temporary alimony while the divorce is pending. The amount and duration of temporary alimony will depend on each spouse's needs and resources and the standard of living established during the marriage.

  • Rehabilitative alimony: The court may order one spouse to pay the other rehabilitative alimony 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: If the receiving spouse is physically or mentally incapacitated and cannot work, the court may order one spouse to pay incapacity alimony to the other for an indefinite period of time after the divorce. 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 child's needs, the ability of the paying spouse to provide support, and the duration of the marriage.

How to protect your finances when going through a divorce in Indiana

Whether you’re parting amicably or facing a contentious split, safeguarding your financial wellbeing is crucial.

Here are practical steps to protect your money during this challenging time:

1.    Get organized: Before initiating divorce proceedings, gather all pertinent financial records. Collect tax returns, bank statements, credit card bills, and details about retirement accounts. Create a comprehensive list of assets and liabilities—both those acquired during the marriage and any separate property. This groundwork will empower you during negotiations.

2.    Consider mediation: Instead of heading straight to court, explore mediation. In this process, you and your soon-to-be-ex collaborate with a neutral third party to resolve issues like property division, alimony, child custody, and support. Mediation tends to be less time-consuming, more cost-effective, and less adversarial. Plus, it fosters a cooperative post-divorce relationship.

3.    Social Security strategy: If your marriage lasted a decade or more, you might qualify for Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record. This can be a valuable income stream during retirement, especially if your former partner had higher earnings. However, specific eligibility criteria apply, so consult with an expert to explore this avenue.

4.    Seek professional help: Divorce has far-reaching financial implications. Consider enlisting the help of a financial advisor who specializes in divorce. They can guide you through the changes, help you make informed decisions, and chart a course for your financial future.

Remember, while divorce can be tumultuous, careful planning can mitigate its impact on your finances. 

Get expert financial advice

A financial advisor can help you assess your current financial status, create a post-divorce budget, and develop a long-term financial plan that aligns with your needs and goals.

Unbiased can connect you with a financial advisor perfectly suited to meet your needs. Simply provide some details about what you’re looking for, and Unbiased’s platform will match you with your advisor.

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Writers

Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.

Need help rebuilding your finances after divorce?

A financial advisor can guide you through your financial recovery both during and after your divorce.