Indiana Divorce Laws
The state of Indiana has unique divorce laws for people who wish to terminate their marriage.
We are providing this online divorce information to you as an easy divorce reference guide to help you while you are doing your own divorce. This information (and much more) is available inside your personal 3StepDivorce account area in order to help you understand how Indiana addresses the most important issues in the divorce process and certain elements throughout your divorce forms.
The following overview of Indiana divorce laws will help you understand the filing procedure and other primary issues concerning your divorce. Please keep in mind that our Indiana online divorce service and support staff will make the process easy for you from start to finish. We take the difficulty out of doing your own divorce.
Residency Requirements: In order to file for a Dissolution of Marriage in Indiana, you or your spouse must meet the strict residency requirements. These requirements permit the court to have jurisdiction of your case, resulting in allowing you to use their judicial system. These requirements are only a concern for spouses who have recently relocated or plan to relocate in the near future. They are as follows:
At the time of the filing of a petition, at least one (1) of the parties must have been: (1) A resident of Indiana; or (2) Stationed at a United States Military installation within Indiana; for six (6) Months immediately preceding the filing of the petition. At the time of the filing of a petition, at least one (1) of the parties must have been: (1) A resident of the county; or (2) 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.
The Dissolution of Marriage is typically filed with in county in which the filing spouse lives. (Indiana Code - Title 31 - Article 15 - Chapters: 2-6)
No-Fault Grounds: Most uncontested Dissolution of Marriage cases are filed according to a "no-fault" ground. We are using the term "no-fault" in a generic fashion by labeling all grounds that do not actually declare a "fault" as "no-fault". In the state of Indiana the "no-fault" grounds are as follows:
(1) Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. (Indiana Code - Title 31 - Article 15 - Chapters: 2-3)
Filing Party Name: The Petitioner. This is the spouse who is recognized as the initiator of the Dissolution of Marriage and is the one who actually files the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the county court.
Non-Filing Party Name: The Respondent. This spouse plays a lesser role in an uncontested Dissolution of Marriage versus a contested Dissolution of Marriage. He or she will be required to sign and/or respond in a timely fashion to the documents filed by his or her spouse.
Family Law or Domestic Relations Court: Superior Court, Circuit Court, or Domestic Relations Court of __________ County, Indiana. All Dissolution of Marriage cases in the state of Indiana are facilitated through this court for that particular county.
Clerk's Name: All correspondence with a Indiana clerk of the court should formally address him or her as follows: Office of the Clerk of the County Domestic Relations Court.
Property and Debt Division: Indiana is considered an "equitable distribution" state. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on how the marital property will be divided, the court shall use a three step process. First, it will determine what property is marital. Second, it will put a value on the marital property. Third, it will divide the marital property in an equitable fashion, which is not necessarily equal, but rather what is considered to be fair.
The court shall presume that an equal division of the marital property between the parties is just and reasonable. However, this presumption may be rebutted by a party who presents relevant evidence, including evidence concerning the following factors, that an equal division would not be just and reasonable: (1) The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the property, regardless of whether the contribution was income producing. (2) The extent to which the property was acquired by each spouse: (A) before the marriage; or (B) through inheritance or gift. (3) The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the disposition of the property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family residence or the right to dwell in the family residence for such periods as the court considers just to the spouse having custody of any children. (4) The conduct of the parties during the marriage as related to the disposition or dissipation of their property. (5) The earnings or earning ability of the parties as related to: (A) a final division of property; and (B) a final determination of the property rights of the parties. (Indiana Code - Title 31 - Article 15 - Chapters: 7)
Changing Name: A woman who desires the restoration of her maiden or previous married name must set out the name she desires to be restored to her in her petition for dissolution as part of the relief sought. The court shall grant the name change upon entering the decree of dissolution. (Indiana Code - Title 31 - Article 15 - Chapters: 2-18)
Spousal Support, Maintenance, or Alimony: Determining the amount of spousal support, if any, is not as objective as determining child support. Spousal support, whether permanent or temporary, is typically decided on a case-by-case basis, because it is very likely that unique circumstances and factors regarding the marriage and the property award will play a significant role in allowing the court to arrive at the appropriate amount.
When the spouses can not agree on the amount of maintenance to be paid or not paid, the court may make the following findings concerning maintenance and order it as it deems to be appropriate: (1) If the court finds a spouse to be physically or mentally incapacitated to the extent that the ability of the incapacitated spouse to support himself or herself is materially affected, the court may find that maintenance for the spouse is necessary during the period of incapacity, subject to further order of the court. (2) If the court finds that: (A) a spouse lacks sufficient property, including marital property apportioned to the spouse, to provide for the spouse's needs; and (B) the spouse is the custodian of a child whose physical or mental incapacity requires the custodian to forgo employment; the court may find that maintenance is necessary for the spouse in an amount and for a period of time that the court considers appropriate. (3) After considering: (A) the educational level of each spouse at the time of marriage and at the time the action is commenced; (B) whether an interruption in the education, training, or employment of a spouse who is seeking maintenance occurred during the marriage as a result of homemaking or child care responsibilities, or both; (C) the earning capacity of each spouse, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, and length of presence in or absence from the job market; and (D) the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse who is seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment; a court may find that rehabilitative maintenance for the spouse seeking maintenance is necessary in an amount and for a period of time that the court considers appropriate, but not to exceed three (3) years from the date of the final decree. (Indiana Code - Title 31 - Article 15 - Chapters: 7)
Custody and Visitation: Shared or joint child custody has become more and more popular with the Indiana courts. If you and your spouse request to have joint or shared "legal" custody, it will almost always be granted. As for joint or shared "physical" custody, the court will examine this a bit more closely to determine if it is a realistic choice that would result in an arrangement that is best for the children.
The court shall determine custody in accordance with the best interests of the child. In determining the child's best interests, there is not a presumption favoring either parent. The court shall consider all relevant factors, including the following: (1) The age and sex of the child. (2) The wishes of the child's parents. (3) The wishes of the child, with more consideration given to the child's wishes if the child is at least fourteen (14) years of age. (4) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with: (A) the child's parents; (B) the child's siblings; and (C) any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interest. (5) The child's adjustment to home, school, and community. (6) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved. (7) Evidence of a pattern of domestic or family violence by either parent. (8) Evidence that the child has been cared for by a de facto custodian. (Indiana Code - Title 31 - Article 15 - Chapters: 17-2-8, 17-2-8.5 and 17-2-15)
Determining Child Support: The basis for determining a monthly support amount is best achieved by referring to the Indiana child support worksheet. The worksheet utilizes the child support guidelines that are defined by state law. The court will use this same worksheet as a building block for determining the support obligation, that is if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on this issue.
In an action for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or child support, the court may order either parent or both parents to pay any amount reasonable for support of a child, without regard to marital misconduct, after considering all relevant factors, including: (1) The financial resources of the custodial parent; (2) The standard of living the child would have enjoyed if: (A) the marriage had not been dissolved; or (B) the separation had not been ordered; (3) The physical or mental condition of the child and the child's educational needs; and (4) The financial resources and needs of the noncustodial parent.
The court shall order a custodial parent or third party who receives child support to obtain an account at a financial institution unless: (1) The custodial parent or third party files a written objection before a child support order is issued; and (2) The court finds that good cause exists to exempt the custodial parent or third party from the account requirement. (Indiana Code - Title 31 - Article 15 - Chapters: 6)
Copyright Notice: These Indiana divorce laws above are copyrighted by Divorce Source, Inc. This abbreviated and revised version of the state laws has been compiled from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction in any fashion is prohibited. Violation of this copyright notice may result in immediate legal action.
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