In Indiana, divorce is governed by Indiana Code 31-15, et seq. The grounds for divorce are (1) Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, (2) The conviction of either of the parties, subsequent to the marriage, of a felony, (3) Impotence, existing at the time of the marriage, (4) Incurable insanity of either party for a period of at least two (2) years. Because Indiana is a no fault divorce state, most people just state there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
At the time of the filing of a petition for dissolution of marriage you must be either a resident of Indiana or stationed at a United States military installation within Indiana for six (6) months immediately preceding the filing of the petition. With some exceptions, at least one of the parties must have been a resident of the county or stationed at a United States military installation within the county where the petition is filed for three (3) months immediately preceding the filing of the petition.
Once a petition for dissolution of marriage is filed, the non-moving party may also file a counter-petition for dissolution of marriage. In most situations the author does not believe a counter-petition is necessary; however, it is common for many attorneys to file a counter-petition.
Once the petition is filed, the parties must wait 60 days before the divorce may be finalized. While the legislature allows a divorce to be finalized 60 days after the petition is filed, it is uncommon for a divorce to be finalized within that time frame. This is due to the nature of the discovery process, the requirement (in some counties) for mediation, the court’s calendar, etc. Therefore, you should not fault your attorney if your divorce is not finalized 60 days after the petition for dissolution is filed.
After a petition for dissolution of marriage is filed, it is common for one (or both) of the parties to request a hearing on provisional orders. This is a hearing in which the court makes a temporary order about who will live in the marital home, who will have primary custody of the children, who will pay child support, who will pay certain debts (mortgage, credit cards, medical bills, etc), who will have temporary custody of certain items of personal property (cars, vacation homes, jewelry, bank accounts, etc). While this list is not exhaustive, you get the idea. This provisional order will govern until it is amended or the divorce is finalized.
After the provisional hearing the attorneys will conduct a process known as discovery. This process can be left open or the court can limit its time period. During the discovery process, the parties are allowed to investigate the assets of the parties, conduct depositions, submit subpoenas to third parties for information, each party’s parenting skills/abilities, and establish a marital balance sheet. During the discovery process it is common for the parties to participate in mediation.
At mediation, a neutral third party (typically another attorney), consults with both parties about how they believe marital assets should be divided, who should have primary custody of the children, determine child support, set a parenting schedule, and resolve any other issues. If mediation is successful at resolving any or all issues the parties will sign a marital settlement agreement (sometimes call a property settlement agreement). Any issues not resolved will be determined by a judge at a final hearing.
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