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Kevin O'Flaherty

The decision to file for divorce, called a legal dissolution of marriage in the state of Indiana, is a difficult one for many people.  Once you make the decision to file for divorce, of course, you want the process to be as simple and painless as possible for you and your family.  This article addresses some basic divorce laws in Indiana, how to file for divorce in Indiana and what Indiana divorce forms are available to you.

How long do you have to be separated before you can file for divorce in the state of Indiana?

You do not have to be legally separated in the state of Indiana before filing for divorce.  Indiana law requires that you set forth in your petition for divorce how long the parties to the marriage have been physically separated, if at all.  The difference between legal and physical separation is not the subject of this article.  To learn more about the difference between the two, and the purpose for a legal separation in Indiana, you may find the following article useful:  Legal Separation Versus Divorce

What divorce papers in Indiana must be filed?

A Petition for divorce (called a petition for dissolution of marriage), Summons and Appearance must be filed with the court in order to initiate your divorce.

What do I include in my divorce paperwork?

You must include in your Petition for divorce the following information:

  • the state and county of residence of each party to the marriage;  
  • the date of the marriage;  
  • the date on which the parties separated (physically);  
  • the name, age and address of any living child less than twenty-one (21) years of age, any incapacitated child of the marriage and whether the wife is pregnant;  
  • the grounds for dissolution of the marriage;  
  • the relief sought;  
  • if the 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 and;  
  • whether either party is a lifetime sex or violent offender.

What are grounds for divorce in Indiana?

Indiana is a “no fault” state, which means that an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is all that need be set forth.  The courts do not favor imputing fault upon either party, although the grounds of felony conviction, insanity and impotence do remain legal grounds that may be set forth in your Indiana Petition.  These are grounds are seldom actually used.  

What does “relief sought” mean?

The court requires that you set forth in your petition for divorce the ultimate end that you desire.  Simply stated, all parties that file a petition for divorce seek an order granting the divorce (called a “dissolution decree”).  However, there may be some relief that does not naturally come to mind that the court can grant in your divorce proceeding.  For example, a spouse may want his or her surname (i.e. last name) returned to his or her pre-marital name, or possession of a special pet or piece of artwork to remain in his or her possession post-decree.  

Where do I file for divorce in Indiana?

Generally, you may only file for divorce in the state of Indiana if you have been a resident of the state of  Indiana (or stationed in Indiana due to military service) for six (6) months prior to filing the petition for dissolution and may only file in the Indiana county in which you have resided for the past three (3) months.  You may file your petition in the Circuit or Superior court of your applicable Indiana county.

What is an appearance?

An “Appearance” is a document filed with the court.  You must file an Appearance to let the court know who you are and how to contact you.

How do I get an Appearance?  Are there any Indiana divorce forms?

The Indiana Supreme Court website provides forms that might be useful and links to websites that are county specific in terms of the forms you will need to institute or respond to a divorce proceeding in a particular county.  Appearances and other forms are often provided by the County Clerk of Court either in-person at the courthouse or by accessing the county website.

What is a summons?  Is it in the Indiana divorce forms?

A summons is a document that must be served upon your spouse, along with a copy of your divorce petition.  Many counties in Indiana will provide a copy of the summons that is used in that particular county on their county websites or within the local rules that can be accessed via the Indiana Supreme court website.  For an explanation of what “local rules” are, visit the Indiana Legal Help website.

How much is involved with the divorce paperwork?

The answer to that question is many-fold.  Are there children of the marriage?  Do the spouses own real estate?  Are the spouses in agreement on anything?

The answer to how much paperwork is involved depends on many factors.  As already discussed, an Appearance, Petition and Summons must be filed.  Additionally, you may have to:

  • complete a mandatory on-line parenting workshop, and provide proof of compliance to the court within thirty (30) days of filing your petition  
  • attend a mandatory co-parenting class, and provide proof of compliance to the court within sixty 60 days of filing your petition
  • submit a parenting plan proposal to the other side or the court
  • submit a child support guidelines worksheet to the other side or the court
  • submit a parenting time credit worksheet to the other side or the court
  • submit a post-secondary education worksheet to the other side or the court
  • submit a financial declaration form within thirty (30) days of filing your petition to the other side or the court
  • submit documents backing up all representations in certain forms to the other side or the court

It is best to consult a lawyer to determine what documents you need to file with the court, present to the court or to exchange with the other side, and what supporting documents must be produced in your particular situation.

Do I need a lawyer to get divorced in Indiana?

Indiana law does not require you to institute, or respond to, a divorce proceeding with attorney assistance.  However, it is best to contact an attorney to help you determine what difficulties you might face before you decide to proceed alone.

O’Flaherty Law understands the complex process of getting a divorce in Indiana. Our family law lawyers have years of experience in family and divorce law We can prepare you for the expected and unexpected issues when going through a divorce.  

Call our office at (630) 324-6666, email, or schedule a consultation with one of our experienced family lawyers today. You can also fill out our confidential contact form and we will get back to you shortly.  

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.

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