When you file for a dissolution of marriage in Indiana, the Court will not grant the dissolution immediately. At minimum, at least sixty days need to pass from the date the action is initiated to the date the Court is able to finalize the dissolution. More often than not, the case will take longer than sixty days, sometimes lasting months or even longer than a year. If you and your spouse are able to navigate the period of time between the filing of the dissolution action and the final resolution, there is no need to get the Court involved. But what happens if there are issues that need to be addressed, such as who will continue to make the payment of certain bills, who gets possession of the family vehicles, and who gets custody of children?
During an ongoing dissolution of marriage case, the Court has the authority to set a preliminary hearing. A preliminary hearing is a hearing that occurs after the initial pleadings are filed but before the final hearing or a final agreement has been reached between the parties and in which the Court sets temporary rules for the parties to abide by while the case is ongoing. At a preliminary hearing, the Court commonly sets temporary rules related to who has possession of the real property, who has possession of what vehicles, who has possession of what personal property, and who pays the household bills and debts. Additionally, the Court usually sets temporary rules related to custody, parenting time, child support, and other child related issues.
At times, a preliminary hearing is requested immediately when a dissolution of marriage case is filed. However, it is not a prerequisite that it be immediately requested by either party. Sometimes, during a case, it becomes apparent that a preliminary hearing is necessary after the case has begun, due to one party’s behavior. If that is the case, the Court has the authority to set a preliminary hearing at any time, if either party requests it.
Additionally, it is not necessary for a Court to hold a hearing to issue preliminary orders for the parties to abide by. Just as with a final order, the parties are free to enter into a preliminary agreement for the Court’s approval. Entering into a preliminary agreement gives the parties to a dissolution of marriage case the freedom to craft an agreement that each has some control in, rather than leaving it up to the Court to issue an order after a contested hearing.
A preliminary hearing can be a very important tool during a dissolution of marriage case. Many times, when a dissolution of marriage is filed for, parties can be emotional and uncertain of how their case will go. By having ground rules for both parties to abide by while the case is ongoing, it allows there to be a little more structure for everyone involved. It also can help with keeping the case moving along towards the finish line.
Having a preliminary hearing and attending a preliminary hearing can be a scary thing. Even though the hearing itself may be short in duration, many people who go through a dissolution of marriage case have never entered a courtroom and the thought of that can be daunting. Having someone who can guide you and reassure you before and at the preliminary hearing is beneficial and can help make the case a little less scary. If you plan on filing for a dissolution of marriage or your spouse has already filed one, give the family law attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC a call at (317) 526-4630. You can schedule a consultation to discuss how our attorneys can help you navigate your case.