Indiana Divorce: Basics and Overview
- Indiana’s residency requirement for divorce: Before you can file for divorce in Indiana, at
least one spouse must have been:
- a resident of Indiana (or stationed at a military base in the state) for the six months immediately before the filing date, and
- a resident of the county where the petition is filed (or stationed at a military base within the county) for three months just before the filing date.
(Ind. Code § 31-15-2-6 (2022).)
- No-fault grounds for divorce in Indiana: Indiana allows both “no-fault” and “fault-based” divorces. A no-fault divorce
is one in which the court doesn’t require either spouse to prove that the other committed the bad act that
caused the marriage to end. In a fault-based divorce, one or both of the spouses must show that the other’s
actions caused the marriage to fail.
To get a no-fault divorce in Indiana, the filing spouse must state in the complaint that there has been an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage. (Ind. Code § 31-15-2-3(1) (2022).) As long as there is no reasonable possibility that the spouses will reconcile, the court will grant the divorce.
- Requirements for uncontested divorce: To get an uncontested divorce (also called a “divorce with agreement”) in Indiana, you and your spouse must agree on all the issues in your divorce, including how to divide your property, alimony, and–if you have minor children–child custody and child support. Also, you both must agree that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
- Timeline for uncontested divorce in Indiana: Indiana has a minimum 60-day waiting period
(from when you file your divorce papers) before a judge may finalize your divorce. (Ind. Code §§ 31-15-2-10,
Beyond the mandatory 60-day waiting period, how long it takes to get an uncontested divorce in Indiana will depend on whether you’ll need a hearing (more on that below) and the court’s schedule.
- Separation requirements for divorce in Indiana? Unlike some states, Indiana doesn’t require spouses to live separately before being able to divorce.
- Legal terms used in Indiana divorce cases: In Indiana, divorce is also called “dissolution of marriage.” The spouse who files the divorce is called the “petitioner,” and the non-filing spouse is called the “respondent.” Uncontested divorce is sometimes called “divorce with agreement,” while contested divorce is called “divorce without agreement.” An uncontested divorce in which the parties have agreed to waive any hearing is a “summary dissolution.” “Pro se” refers to a case where the spouse is representing themself (rather than hiring an attorney).
- Where to file for divorce in Indiana: File your divorce paperwork with the court clerk of the trial court in the county where one of the spouses currently lives and has lived there for at least three months. (Ind. Code § 31-15-2-6 (2022).)
- Main divorce papers to file: For an uncontested divorce, the main forms to file are the Appearance by Unrepresented Person in Civil Case (if you are representing yourself), the Verified Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, the Summons, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) Affidavit (I.C. 31-21-5-10) (if you have a minor child), and a Settlement Agreement and Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. Some of the forms differ depending on whether you have a minor child. Most counties in Indiana have their own forms, so check with the court clerk to find out what’s required in the county where you file.
- Requirements for serving a spouse with divorce papers: You will need to serve your spouse with the divorce paperwork you file.
When you file, you can request that the clerk serve your spouse with the documents. There will likely be an
additional fee for service–usually $10. The clerk might mail the paperwork by certified mail or have a
sheriff personally serve the documents on your spouse. If neither of these options are available, you can
have someone unrelated to the case (like a professional process server) deliver the documents to your
spouse. (Ind. Trial Proc. R. 4.1 (2022).)
If you and your spouse agree to divorce, your spouse can waive formal service of the divorce paperwork by filing a completed Verified Waiver of Service of Process and Acknowledgement of Receipt of Petition for Dissolution (Divorce) and Process.
- Indiana Child Support Guidelines: Like all U.S. states, Indiana has guidelines for calculating the amount of child support that parents should pay. Whether the parents have an agreement on the amount of child support or a judge makes a decision on the issue, the level of support may not differ from what it would be under the guidelines unless the judge has found (and explains why) ordering the guideline amount would be “unjust” under the circumstances, after considering the child’s best interests and other factors. Indiana judges have broad discretion to order child support that they consider “reasonable.” (Ind. Code § 31-16-6-1 (2022).) 3StepDivorce™ provides the Indiana Child Support Guideline Worksheets, so you can easily calculate the state's guideline level of support.
- Indiana rules on child custody: Whether parents have agreed on custody-related issues for their children or a judge has to decide for them, Indiana child custody laws require that the parenting plan serves the children’s best interests.
- Indiana rules on property division: Like most states, Indiana follows an “equitable distribution” rule for dividing marital property and allocating marital debts between the spouses in a divorce. That means that although the court will try to distribute assets and debts equally between the spouses, the court can deviate from this division when it isn’t “just and reasonable.” (Ind. Code § 31-15-7-5 (2022).) As with other issues in a divorce, couples may reach their own agreement on how to divide their property and debts, but the court will need to approve the agreement. The court has the power to modify all or part of the agreement. (Ind. Code § 31-15-2-17 (2022).)
- Parenting class requirements: There is no state law requiring parenting classes in Indiana. However, many counties do require parenting classes. Check with the court clerk to find out if you’re required to take a parenting class.
- Financial disclosure requirements in Indiana: Whether you’re required to fill out a financial disclosure form is left to the discretion of each court. Most counties in Indiana do require divorcing couples to complete financial disclosures. Check with the clerk of the court where you file to find out the court’s requirements.
- Hearing requirements to finalize divorce in Indiana: Even when your divorce is uncontested,
you’ll have to attend a hearing (no sooner than 60 days after filing) to get your final divorce decree
unless you qualify for a “summary dissolution decree.” To do that, you must file:
- a written waiver of final hearing, and
- either a statement that there are no contested issues, or a written settlement agreement.
(Ind. Code §§ 31-15-2-10, 31-15-2-13 (2022).)
- Default divorce in Indiana: There is no law in Indiana requiring a spouse to respond to a petition for divorce. Rather, the non-filing spouse may respond to the petition. (Ind. Code § 31-15-2-9 (2022).) But non-filing spouses should carefully review the Summons in their case. That’s because the Summons might contain a deadline or requirement that the non-filing spouse must meet. If the deadline isn’t met, the respondent might risk having the court enter a default judgment. (Ind. Trial Proc. Rules, rule 4(C) (2022).) When there’s no deadline provided in the Summons, if the respondent spouse doesn’t appear in court at or before the final hearing, the court can enter a default judgment of divorce. In other words, a court can grant a divorce without any input from the non-filing spouse, as long as the filing spouse followed the law in serving the divorce papers.
- Indiana laws and rules on divorce: Ind. Code §§ 31-15-2-1 through 31-15-2-19. The Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure also apply to divorce cases.
- Divorce records: You can get copies of many divorce records online. If the document you need isn’t available online, contact the clerk of the court that decided the case to get copies.