Q: How long must I live in Indiana in order to file for divorce?
A: In order to file for divorce, one of the parties must have resided in Indiana for at least 6 months. Additionally, you must have resided in the County you choose to file in for at least 3 months.
Q: How are the parties identified in a divorce proceeding?
A: Petitioner and Respondent. The Petitioner is the party who actually files the divorce; while the other party is identified as the Respondent.
Q: What are the grounds for divorce in Indiana?
A: Indiana is essentially a no-fault state for divorce. However, you must list one of the following statutory reasons for seeking a divorce: a) Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage (the most commonly used ground); b) Conviction of a felony by either party; c) Impotence that existed at the time of the marriage; and, d) Incurable insanity that has lasted at least 2 years.
Q: What actually starts a divorce?
A: One of the parties to the marriage must file a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.”
Q: What actually ends a divorce?
A: The document that will be entered finalizing the divorce is called the “Final Dissolution of Marriage Decree.”
Q: I have heard of a contested divorce and an uncontested divorce, what do these two terms mean?
A: In a “Contested” divorce the parties have a disagreement over dividing assets, dividing debts, custody of a child/children, and/or what is an appropriate visitation plan with the children. “Uncontested” simply means the parties have agreed on how to resolve all of these same issues.
Q: Once I file a divorce, how quickly can it be finalized?
A: Indiana has what is frequently called the “cooling off period.” This simply means a Final Decree of Dissolution can not be entered until at least 60 days have passed from the filing of the Petition for Dissolution.
Q: What is spousal maintenance, and will I have to pay it or be entitled to receive it?
A: A Court may order one spouse to pay money to the other during the time the divorce is pending. In most instances, these payments will terminate when the divorce is finalized. However, there are circumstances that do allow for maintenance after the divorce is finalized. Whether this is awarded depends on: (1) if there are any physical disabilities of the spouse or child, or (2) if a spouse should receive maintenance to gain training/education to support themselves. This latter form of maintenance may not exceed 3 years.
Q: What is a provisional hearing?
A: This hearing helps decide what everyone does while the divorce is pending. Here’s a list of common questions everyone wants answered: (1) Who has the kids, and when? (2) Who pays what bills? (3) Who lives where? (4) Who pays child support, and how much? And, (5) Is there temporary maintenance? All of these issues will be dealt with at a provisional hearing.
Q: How will our property be divided?
A: Indiana is considered an “equitable distribution state.” This means the initial presumption by a court will be that all property will be split 50/50. There are legal grounds to argue that the distribution should be something other than 50/50 for it to be considered “equitable.”
Q: What is custody vs. visitation?
A: Custody deals with the question of who the child/children will primarily live with. Visitation deals with the other parent’s ability to exercise parenting time with the children.
Q: If I’m the parent exercising visitation how often will I get to see my children?
A: This is a question with a variety of factors. How close do you live to each other? How old are the children? Are the children in school? Typically, when it comes to custody and visitation, the court will ask itself, “What is in the best interest of the children/children?” Indiana has adopted the Parenting Time Guidelines, which many couples choose to follow and/or may be adopted as the Order of the Court.
Q: How much child support will I have to pay?
A: There are a number of factors that go into who pays what and how much child support will be ordered. For a rough idea you can try using Indiana’s child support calculator by clicking here: http://mycourts.in.gov/csc/parents/
Q: Does it matter whether I’m the mother or father when it comes to determining who gets child custody?
A: No, the Court will decide custody by what is in the best interest of the child. There is no preference automatically given because you are the mother or father.
Q: Can the Court make one party pay the other party’s attorney fees?
A: Yes, the Court is allowed to order payment of attorney fees. This will depend in large part on the income of each side. If one spouse makes substantially more money than the other, they should anticipate paying some attorney fees.
Q: Speaking of attorney fees, how much does an attorney charge for a divorce?
A: There is no way to answer this question with any accuracy until the lawyer knows the facts of the case. A divorce where there are very few debts/assets and no children likely will not be as expensive as one where there are substantial assets/debts and parties are in disagreement over custody of the children. Almost all attorneys will require a retainer fee up front that they will deposit into their trust account. The attorney will then bill you their hourly rate as they work, and they then use those documented hours to bill against the money that has been placed in the trust account.
Q: Do I need a lawyer for my divorce?
A: No, you can file and represent yourself in a divorce. However, if you have assets/debts in dispute and/or you have children it may very well be to your benefit to hire an attorney.
Do you have a question about your potential divorce or need representation in a divorce or family law matter? Then call Banks & Brower at 317-870-0019 or ask your question via our online question form by clicking here: banksbrower.com/contact/