In this article...

Watch Our Video
Renee Babcoke

As of August, 2021, a review of the Indiana 2021 legislative session doesn’t show any major changes to Indiana divorce law.  This article will help you learn about some changes to related laws that have occurred in the past two years, however, and about how to get divorced in Indiana in 2021.

Grounds For Divorce In Indiana

The first thing you need to know about Indiana law is that Indiana is a “no-fault” state, meaning that the vast majority of dissolution cases cite an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage as the legal ground for dissolution.  This connotes that neither party is actually at fault.  There are additional grounds of 1) conviction of a felony after marriage, 2) impotence existing at the time of marriage or 3) uncurable insanity lasting for at least two years.  IC 31-15-2-3  However, these grounds are rarely used.

Property Division After Divorce in Indiana

Second, Indiana is an equitable property division state.  This means that all assets of both or either party, whether owned or obtained prior to the marriage or acquired afterward through joint or separate efforts, will be divided by the court fairly, with an equal division of the property presumed to be fair 31-15-7-4  Should one spouse wish for a more unequal division, that spouse will bear the burden of proving to the court why an unequal division is fair.  IC 31-15-7-5

Filing Petition for Dissolution in Indiana

Next you will need to make sure that you or your spouse have been residing in the state of Indiana for at least six (6) months and in the county in which you wish to file for at least three (3) months.  IC 31-15-2-6  You will file the Petition for Dissolution in the county court of a spouse’s residence and include in the verified Petition: the residence of each party and the length of residence in the state and county; the date of the marriage; the date on which the parties physically separated; the name, age, and address of any living child less than twenty-one (21) years of age and any incapacitated child of the marriage; whether the wife is pregnant; the grounds for dissolution of the marriage; the relief sought.  IC 31-15-2-5  If a guardian of an incapacitated person is filing the petition for dissolution of marriage on behalf of the incapacitated person, the name and address of the guardian must be listed.  If either party is a lifetime sex or violent offender, that information must be included, as well.

Service of Summon

The Petition must be served on the non-filing spouse, who may then file a Response to the Petition.  A final hearing dissolving the marriage will not occur until at least sixty (60) days has passed.  IC 31-15-2-10  This is called the “cooling off” period.  It serves to make sure that the parties are certain that they wish to divorce, and that a Petition was not filed by the Petitioner in error in the heat of a resolvable dispute.

Expediting Divorce Process

However, if the spouses wish for a summary or bifurcated dissolution decree, they may submit to the court  a statement that there are either 1) no disputed issues, or 2) any issues have been resolved in a Marital Settlement Agreement, and the court can enter a summary dissolution sixty (60) days after filing of the Petition.  IC 31-15-2-13 The court may also enter a decree of dissolution and reserve for final hearing the determination of any issues remaining disputed.  IC 31-15-2-14

Decree of Dissolution in Indiana

At final hearing the court shall resolve all disputed issues and enter a decree of dissolution which is final as to dissolving the marriage or the court may order the parties to counseling and enter a continuance if the court reasonably believes the parties can reconcile.  IC 31-15-2-15  At any time at least forty-five (45) days after any ordered continuance, either party may motion to court to enter the dissolution decree.  Although the provisions of a final dissolution decree may be appealed the order dissolving the marriage may not, so that the parties may remarry pending any appeal.  31-15-2-16  

Changes in Indiana Divorce Law

Not many notable changes to Indiana divorce law have taken place in recent years, excluding changes to related Code sections (e.g. paternity, adoption, etc.).  Some notable changes in the past two years, not directly related to the actual dissolution action itself are:

Relocation—in 2019 the Indiana legislature shortened the time within which a custodial parent must give notice of intent to relocate from ninety (90) days prior to the relocation to thirty (30) days IC 31-17-2.2-3 et seq.

Relocation—in 2019 the Indiana legislature shortened the distance within which a custodial child may relocate without the need to provide advance notice to the non-custodial parent from one hundred (100) miles to twenty (20) miles and allowed the court to order mediation in the event the parents disagreed about the relocation.  .  IC 31-17-2.2-.5

Relocation—in 2019 the Indiana legislature shortened the time within which the non-relocating parent must Respond to notice of a custodial parent relocation notice from sixty (60) days to twenty (20) days.  IC 31-17-2.2-5

Parenting Time—in 2019 the Indiana legislature amended the right to parenting time for a non-custodial parent after a finding of paternity to require that a court order supervised parenting time for any parent convicted of child molestation or child exploitation in the preceding five (5) years.  IC 31-14-14-1

Parenting Time—in 2019 the Indiana legislature amended the right to parenting time for a non-custodial parent to allow the court to order drug testing of the non-custodial parent under certain circumstances.  IC 31-17-2-21.8

Notice of Address and Phone Number—in 2019 the Indiana legislature added a requirement that anyone seeking custody, parenting time or grandparent visitation must provide all persons entitled to the information with a current address, change of address, current phone number and e-mail address.  IC 31-14-13-10.2

Secondary Education—In 2019 the Indiana legislature added a provision that a parent may provide notice that a child receiving child support is attending a school for secondary education, thereby keeping child support payments in place until the child ceases attending the school or graduates.  I.C 31-16-6-6

Although this list of changes in the past two years is not exhaustive, it covers all changes that the author is aware of at this time.  For more information on Indiana domestic relations laws, read our article on Steps to File For Divorce in Indiana.

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.

FREE Family Law & DivorceE-Book

Get my FREE E-Book

Similar Articles

Learn about Law