I Filed for Divorce in Indiana…What Happens Now?

I’ve Filed for Divorce, Now What?  The 60-Day Waiting Period

So you’ve pulled the trigger and filed for divorce.  Taking that first initial step can leave you feeling anywhere from sad, to scared, or maybe even relieved, but often times it leaves people wondering—what happens next? Or, what do I need to do now?

Under Indiana law, a divorce cannot be finalized for at least 60 days from the date of filing.  The purpose behind this 60-day waiting period is to allow parties a “cooling off” period.  If parties change their minds and decide they want to reconcile, this gives them an opportunity to dismiss their case before any final decisions are made.  This waiting period is typically called the provisional period.

The first step in the provisional period is determining whether you need a provisional hearing, which would be in front of a judge.  A provisional hearing lays out each party’s certain rights, obligations, and responsibilities during the waiting period.  These terms are binding on both parties until further order of the court or until a final settlement agreement is entered.  Here’s a quick look at some of the issues that may be temporarily resolved at a provisional hearing:

  1. Who has custody of the kids?
  2. Who pays for expenses of the children?
  3. Who is in charge of paying the mortgage and/or other bills and debts?
  4. Will I get any spousal maintenance?
  5. Who lives where?

An experienced attorney can help you decide whether this is appropriate for your particular situation.  If you don’t have any children and not a lot of assets and/or bills, it may not be necessary to have a provisional hearing.  If both parties are able to agree on certain terms without the aid of the court, a provisional agreement can be drafted and signed by both parties without going before a judge.

What next?  You may hear the term “discovery” come up.  Discovery is the process by which parties can collect information in preparation for a settlement or final hearing.  This can be extremely important in a dissolution of marriage because we want to make sure you are aware of all income of your spouse and all marital assets you both hold.  Don’t forget, Indiana law presumes a 50/50 split of marital assets and DEBTS! Here’s an overview of the different types of discovery:

  1. Interrogatories.  These are written questions that you must answer under oath.  Often times these are pretty standard questions.  For example, if you have children, some of the interrogatories may ask you to describe your plans for custody and to explain why you want that particular custody arrangement.  If you have a more complex situation, the questions can be more tailored and fact specific to your marriage.
  2. Requests for Production of Documents.  You may receive discovery requesting you to produce documents such as bank statements, taxes, photographs, proof of income, or any other evidence that may be used at a final hearing.  The biggest driving factor for these type of requests is to verify income and determine how marital assets are being spent.
  3. Depositions.  A deposition is an out-of-court testimony that is typically put into writing and can be used later in court.  Depositions can be useful because they can give an attorney a chance to find out ahead of time what a party may say during a final hearing.
  4. Requests for Admission.  These are written requests asking you to either admit or deny a specific statement or question.
  5. Physical and Mental Examination.  These are rarely used, but under certain circumstances, one party may request the court to order a physical or mental examination of the other party.

The most common types of discovery that you may run across in a divorce case are the interrogatories and the requests for production of documents.   Answering discovery requests can be time-consuming and frustrating, but having the help of an experienced attorney can help alleviate some of that pressure.

The next steps can vary, but usually, it means preparing a settlement offer.  Now is the time to start thinking about more permanent orders that you would like to see put in place.  If you already have provisional orders, you will want to decide whether you want those provisional terms to remain intact.  Check out our previous blog here (Indianapolis Divorce Attorney Blog: Things to Consider When Settling Your Divorce in Indiana) for an idea of important things to consider when settling your divorce.  The biggest issues typically involve child custody, child support, and retirement assets.

If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement, it may be beneficial to think about mediation.  It is important to remember that if you and your spouse can agree, the final settlement agreement can be molded in any form that you wish.  If an agreement or mediation doesn’t work, the next step is requesting a final hearing before a judge.  Keep in mind drafting your own settlement agreement without the aid of the court definitely leaves more room for flexibility within the agreement!

As you can see, the waiting period can be grueling.  The experienced Indianapolis Family Law Attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC are experienced in all areas of family law and can help guide you through the process of divorce.  Give us a call 24/7/365 at (317) 870-0019 or email us info@banksbrower.com.