In this article...
- Obtain necessary forms, fill them out correctly, file with the county clerk’s office & serve spouse for successful completion of a no-fault or fault-based divorce.
- Contested divorces require litigation & legal advice. Hire a lawyer in order to protect your rights and increase your chances of a favorable outcome.
Divorce can be a challenging and emotional experience, but understanding the divorce laws and process can make it less daunting. In Indiana, navigating a divorce without a lawyer is possible if you know the steps to take and the rules to follow. This comprehensive guide will help you understand Indiana divorce laws, learn how to navigate Indiana divorce without a lawyer, and successfully finalize your divorce. So let’s dive in and make this difficult journey a little easier for you.
Navigating the Divorce Process Without an Attorney
Navigating the divorce process without an attorney is possible, but it requires diligence and attention to detail. You’ll need to obtain the necessary forms, fill them out correctly, and file them with the court. It’s essential to adhere to the same rules and regulations that an attorney would, even if you are not familiar with them.
In the following sections, we will discuss the steps to obtain the necessary forms and fill them out correctly.
Obtaining Necessary Forms
To obtain the necessary forms for your divorce, you can either access them electronically from the Indiana courts website or get a hard copy from the court clerk’s office. These forms include the divorce petition, financial declarations, and child custody and support forms if you have minor children.
Make sure to use the correct forms for your specific situation, as using the wrong ones may result in delays or even the dismissal of your case.
Filling Out the Forms Correctly
Filling out the divorce forms accurately is crucial to avoid delays and potential legal issues. The forms come with comprehensive instructions on how to fill them out line by line. Be sure to collect all relevant information before completing the forms, such as your financial information, property and debt details, and information about your children, if applicable.
Remember that precision is key when completing these forms, as errors may lead to delays or even the dismissal of your case.
Filing Your Divorce Papers
After completing the necessary forms, the next step is to file them with the county clerk’s office, along with the required filing fee. In Indiana, the filing fee for a divorce is $157. Once your papers are filed, the court will assign a case number and process the documents by stamping the date of filing upon receipt.
In the following subsections, we’ll discuss the specifics of filing with the court clerk at the county clerk’s office and understanding fee waivers.
County Clerk’s Office
To file your divorce papers, you’ll need to go to the county clerk’s office in the county where you have resided for the past three months. Submit the completed forms along with the filing fee. The clerk will review your documents, assign a case number, and stamp the date of filing on them.
Make sure to keep a copy of the stamped documents for your records, as you may need them later in the divorce process.
If you cannot afford the filing fee for your divorce, you can request a fee waiver by filing a Verified Motion for Fee Waiver with the court. This motion states your financial situation and explains why you cannot pay the fee. The court will review your request and either approve or reject it.
If approved, the filing fee will be waived, allowing you to proceed with your divorce without paying the fee. If rejected, you’ll need to pay the fee before your divorce can proceed.
Serving Your Spouse
Once you’ve filed your divorce papers, the next step is to serve your spouse with a copy of the documents. This is a critical step in the divorce process, as it informs your spouse that you’ve initiated the divorce and gives them an opportunity to respond.
In Indiana, there are several methods for serving divorce papers, such as certified mail, private process servers, or the sheriff’s office. In the following subsections, we’ll discuss each of these methods in detail.
One common method to serve divorce papers is through certified mail, a secure delivery service provided by the United States Postal Service (USPS) that requires a signature upon delivery. When serving the papers via certified mail, it’s essential to request a return receipt, which provides proof of delivery and is signed by the recipient. This receipt can be used as evidence in your divorce case that your spouse was properly served.
It is important to note that the return receipt is only valid if the recipient signs it.
Private Process Servers
Another option for serving divorce papers is to hire a private process server, a professional who specializes in delivering legal documents to the appropriate parties. To find a reputable private process server in Indiana, search for a company that is knowledgeable about the region and has a good reputation.
The cost for this service is usually around $75.
You can also request the sheriff’s office to serve the divorce papers on your spouse. This method is often used when the spouse’s whereabouts are unknown or when the spouse is avoiding service.
To serve the papers through the sheriff’s office, you’ll need to file an affidavit with the court as evidence of service. The sheriff’s office will then forward confirmation of the service to the court and a duplicate to you.
Seeking Legal Advice
While it is not a legal requirement to hire a divorce attorney for a contested divorce in Indiana, it is highly recommended. An experienced attorney can help you understand the legal process, recognize your rights and responsibilities, and avoid costly mistakes.
Furthermore, having a divorce lawyer represent you can ensure that your case is presented in the most advantageous manner, increasing your chances of achieving a favorable outcome in the divorce. For the most up-to-date information on divorce in Indiana, please read our other informational article Indiana Divorce Law Updates.
What is the easiest way to get a divorce in Indiana?
The easiest way to get a divorce in Indiana is to file for an uncontested divorce, where both parties agree on all issues, such as the division of property and arrangements for any children.
An uncontested no-fault divorce may be resolved through summary dissolution for a quicker, cheaper process.
Uncontested Divorce in Indiana
An uncontested divorce in Indiana is a divorce where both parties agree on all issues, such as property division, child custody, and support. In an uncontested divorce, the court typically only needs to approve the agreement reached by the spouses. This type of divorce is usually quicker and less expensive than a contested divorce.
In the following subsections, we’ll discuss the bifurcated divorce option and the steps for finalizing an uncontested divorce in Indiana. For even more in-depth information on uncontested divorce, check out our article, Everything You Need To Know About Uncontested Divorce in Indiana.
Bifurcated Divorce Option
A bifurcated divorce in Indiana allows a couple to divide the divorce and contested issues into two distinct parts, resolving the status of the marriage first, followed by other matters such as property division, child custody, and spousal support. To file a bifurcated divorce, a petition for dissolution of marriage must be filed, followed by a partial agreement outlining the issues that have been agreed upon.
Once the court reviews the settlement agreement, it will issue a final decree of divorce, allowing the parties to move on with their lives while still resolving the remaining issues.
Finalizing the Uncontested Divorce
To finalize an uncontested divorce in Indiana, you’ll need to file a waiver of the final hearing and dissolution decree with the court. This document indicates that both parties have agreed to the terms of the divorce and have waived their right to a hearing.
Once the court reviews these documents and the minimum 60-day waiting period has elapsed, it will issue a signed decree. This decree will be sent to both parties and will be legally binding, officially terminating the marriage.
Division of Marital Property and Debts
In Indiana, the division of marital property and debts is governed by the concept of equitable distribution, which requires the court to divide marital property and debts in a fair and equitable manner. This means that the division may not be exactly equal but rather based on what the court deems fair considering various factors, such as the duration of the marriage, the age and health of the parties, and the income and earning capacity of each party.
In the following subsections, we’ll discuss equitable distribution and the factors considered by the court when dividing marital property and debts.
Equitable distribution in Indiana requires a fair division of property, which may not necessarily be equal. The court will decide on an equal distribution based on the context of the particular situation, taking into account factors such as the duration of the marriage, the age and health of the parties, and the income and earning capacity of each party.
It’s essential to understand that equitable distribution does not guarantee an equal division of assets but rather a fair division based on the specific circumstances of your case.
Factors Considered by the Court
When determining the division of marital property and debts in Indiana, the court considers various factors to ensure a fair and equitable distribution. These factors include the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the property, the duration of the marriage, the economic circumstances of each spouse, the earnings or earning capability of each spouse, and any conduct of the spouse resulting in the dissipation or disposal of the property.
By considering these factors, the court aims to achieve a fair and equitable division of marital property, ensuring that each party receives sufficient property and debts.
Contested Divorce in Indiana
A contested divorce in Indiana occurs when the parties involved are unable to come to an agreement on all matters pertaining to the divorce. This type of divorce can be more complex and time-consuming than an uncontested divorce, as it requires litigation before a family law magistrate, judge, or commissioner. Although it is possible to represent yourself in a contested divorce, it is highly recommended to seek legal advice, as the process can be complicated and emotionally draining.
In a contested divorce, the court will make the final decision on issues such as property division, child custody, and support if the parties cannot reach an agreement. While this can be a more lengthy and costly process, it may be necessary in cases where the spouses cannot come to a mutually acceptable resolution.
In the following subsections, we’ll discuss the litigation process and the importance of seeking legal advice in a contested divorce.
The litigation process for contested divorces in Indiana requires going before a family law magistrate, judge, or commissioner. During the litigation, each party will present their case, and the court will make a decision based on the evidence and arguments presented. This process can be lengthy and may take up to a year and a half or more to complete.
Although representing yourself in a contested divorce is possible, it is highly recommended to enlist the services of an attorney to guide you through the court process and present your case in the best possible manner.
Navigating a divorce in Indiana without a lawyer can be a challenging but empowering experience. By understanding Indiana divorce laws, residency requirements, and the grounds for divorce, you can confidently approach the process. Whether you’re facing an uncontested or contested divorce, knowing how to obtain and fill out the necessary forms, file them with the court, and serve your spouse is essential. Furthermore, understanding the division of marital property and debts, as well as child custody and support issues, will help you ensure the best outcome for all parties involved. Armed with this knowledge, you can successfully navigate the divorce process in Indiana and move forward with your life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I get a divorce in Indiana without a lawyer?
Yes, you can file for divorce in Indiana without a lawyer. All the appropriate forms and instructions are available online and from local court clerks. Additionally, if you both agree on all aspects of the divorce, you do not need a lawyer.
However, the process may take up to 60 days to complete.
What is the 60-day divorce law in Indiana?
In Indiana, a 60-day separation period is required before a divorce can be finalized. Couples do not need to be separated before filing for divorce, but the court does require a waiting period.
What is the difference between a no-fault and fault-based divorce in Indiana?
In Indiana, a no-fault divorce does not require proof of wrongdoing on the part of either spouse, while a fault-based divorce has specific grounds for legal proceedings, including conviction of a felony, impotence at the time of marriage, and incurable insanity.
How long does it take to finalize a divorce in Indiana?
In Indiana, it takes at least 60 days to finalize a divorce after the petition has been filed. The duration may vary depending on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested.
If you are looking for an Indiana divorce attorney to assist you in this matter, please click here to find an Indiana divorce lawyer near you.
While we serve most of Indiana, if you’re in the Indianapolis, IN area and are looking for an experienced Indianapolis divorce attorney to assist you, please feel free to reach out to O’Flaherty Law of Indianapolis at:
22 E. Washington St., Ste. 210A
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(463) 888 - 9054
Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual’s legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.