Family law in Indiana calls for an equitable distribution of assets during a divorce. Although equitable typically means a 50/50 split, the division may differ from that standard when justified by the facts. An individual seeking a divorce must have lived in the state for six months immediately before filing for divorce. Being stationed at a U.S. military base in Indiana meets this residency rule. Additionally, you need to live in the county where you file for three months. Therefore, to seek a Hamilton County Indiana divorce, you will have to have a residence in that county for the preceding three months.
Children or No Children
A couple who has no minor children will not have to navigate issues related to child custody and child support. As a result, a no-children divorce might proceed quicker, although those divorces can get bogged down in financial details.
On the whole, parents of minor children can expect their divorces to take more time to finalize because they have more decisions to make. Parents often consult divorce lawyers in Indiana as they work out custody, visitation schedules, co-parenting plans, and child support. Legal representation often becomes very important during custody disputes when someone needs to challenge attacks that threaten access to children or protect children from an unfit parent.
Getting a divorce requires that you and your former partner disclose finances. Before filing the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, you may want to gather information on all financial records, including:
- Bank accounts
- Loans and credit card debts
- Retirement accounts
- Investment accounts
- Life insurance policies
- Tax returns
Accomplishing this task might be easier before launching your divorce because afterward, your former partner could withhold access to financial statements until forced to provide them by the court.
The next step for officially starting your divorce is to go to the county court to meet the residency requirement and file the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. You do not have to state a specific reason for a divorce except that your relationship is irretrievably broken. Occasionally people cite grounds for divorce such as felony conviction of a spouse or incurable insanity. The court will collect filing fees at this time unless you can show an inability to pay.
Scheduling Court Dates
After filing the petition, people face a wait commonly referred to a “cooling off” period of at least 60 days before a court can finalize the divorce. More time is usually needed due to busy court schedules or delays and disputes regarding the terms of the divorce.
Under certain circumstances, you can request preliminary hearings as soon as possible to address urgent issues like child support and custody. A judge may issue temporary support and custody orders until the divorce has been finalized. Divorce lawyers in Indiana advise people about the standards used to make decisions regarding temporary orders of this nature. These temporary orders are subject to change in the final Decree of Dissolution.
As the splitting spouses proceed with the divorce, they enter the discovery phase of the legal action. Discovery describes the gathering of all evidence pertinent to the divorce. The evidence may be financial records or other documents and testimony related to the fitness of a parent or history of domestic violence or child neglect. All of this information is necessary to negotiate their division of property, spousal or child support, and child custody with all facts on the table.
People may voluntarily disclose information by answering interrogatories or questions or giving depositions. The exchange of information may unfold smoothly, or it could be highly contentious. In the latter situation, court motions need to be filed against the uncooperative party to force compliance and sometimes penalize noncompliance.
Deciding Child Custody and Support
Family law in Indiana establishes the standards for child custody and support. If splitting spouses do not come to terms independently, then a court will apply the law to make final decisions about these issues.
The best interests of the child guide determinations about child custody. A court considers many variables before arriving at a decision, such as:
- Parental wishes
- Age and sex of children
- Wishes of children age 14 or older
- Child’s existing relationship with parents
- Ability of parent to provide a stable home
- Parental physical and mental health
- History of domestic abuse
As for child support, the state’s child support guidelines measure each parent’s income alongside child-related expenses, including health insurance, and overnight time spent with each parent.
Negotiating the Settlement
The splitting spouses must come to terms regarding the division of marital property, spousal or child support, and child custody. They will put their decisions into writing in a settlement agreement that is submitted to the court. As long as this agreement covers everything necessary to finalize the divorce, the court can issue the final Decree of Dissolution that legally ends the marriage without the necessity of a final hearing.
People often choose mediation as the method for resolving their differences. Courts may order people to use mediation before resorting to a trial.
Those people who cannot reach an agreement about everything must prepare for the final court hearing. This is effectively a trial where the judge hears evidence and decides the final terms of the divorce. Having your divorce litigated at the final hearing adds significantly to the legal fees related to divorce. If you are not satisfied with the judge’s decision, you may appeal it within 30 days.
Understand Your Legal Rights
Divorce lawyers in Indiana may provide any level of service that you need to complete your divorce. A lawyer can manage every detail, or you may only choose to consult a lawyer as necessary before making decisions. The team at Webster & Garino has the resources and knowledge to assist you in your divorce. Call us today at (317) 565-1818.
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