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Indiana Divorce Laws
Residency and Filing Requirements:In order to file for a dissolution of marriage in Indiana, residency requirements must be met for the court to accept the case. If the court discovers it does not have jurisdictional rights to hear the case it will not be accepted or it will eventually be dismissed. The requirements 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. (Indiana Code - Title 31 - Article 15 - Chapters: 2-6)
Grounds for Filing:The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage must declare the appropriate Indiana grounds upon which the dissolution of marriage is being sought. The appropriate lawful ground will be that which the parties agree upon and can substantiate, or that which the filing spouse desires to prove to the court. The dissolution of marriage grounds are as follows:
Dissolution of marriage shall be decreed upon a finding by a court of one (1) of the following grounds and no other ground:
(1) Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
(1) The conviction of either of the parties, subsequent to the marriage, of a felony. (2) Impotence, existing at the time of the marriage. (3) Incurable insanity of either party for a period of at least two (2) years. (Indiana Code - Title 31 - Article 15 - Chapters: 2-3)
Filing Spouse Title:Petitioner. The Petitioner is the spouse who initiates the filing procedure with the family law or domestic relations court.
Non-Filing Spouse Title:Respondent. The Respondent is the spouse who does not file the initial dissolution of marriage papers, but rather receives them by service.
Court Name:Superior Court, Circuit Court, or Domestic Relations Court of __________ County, Indiana. This is the Indiana court where the dissolution of marriage will be filed. The court will assign a case number and have jurisdictional rights to facilitate and grant the orders concerning, but not limited to: property and debt division, support, custody, and visitation. The name of the court is clearly represented at the top of all documents that are filed.
Primary Documents:Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and Final Dissolution of Marriage Decree. These are the essential documents needed to start and finalize a dissolution of marriage according to Indiana law. There are anywhere from ten to twenty other documents that may be required throughout the filing process. A few other documents that are typically filed during the process are: Appearance, Summons, Settlement Agreement and Decree of Dissolution of Marriage, and Declaration Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act.
Court Clerk's Title:Office of the Clerk of the County Domestic Relations Court. The clerk or the clerk's assistants will be the people managing your paperwork with the court. The clerk's office will keep the parties and the lawyers informed throughout the process in regards to additional paperwork that is needed, further requirements, and hearing dates and times.
Property Distribution:Since Indiana is an "equitable distribution" state, the marital property shall be divided in an equitable fashion. Equitable does not mean equal, but rather what is fair. The court will encourage the parties to reach a settlement on property and debt issues otherwise the court will declare the property award.
In any action to terminate a marriage the two parties agree to a settlement on the distribution of their marital property. If the spouses co no come to an agreement, the court, at their discretion, will consider the following factors to divide the property; (1) owned by either spouse before the marriage; (2) acquired by either spouse in his or her own right: (A) after the marriage; and (B) before final separation of the parties; or (3) acquired by their joint efforts. (b) The court shall divide the property in a just and reasonable manner by: (1) division of the property in kind; (2) setting the property or parts of the property over to one (1) of the spouses and requiring either spouse to pay an amount, either in gross or in installments, that is just and proper; (3) ordering the sale of the property under such conditions as the court prescribes and dividing the proceeds of the sale; or (4) ordering the distribution of benefits described in IC 31-9-2-98(b)(2) or IC 31-9-2-98(b)(3) that are payable after the dissolution of marriage, by setting aside to either of the parties a percentage of those payments either by assignment or in kind at the time of receipt.
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)
Restoration or Name Change: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:Not all cases involve support from one spouse to the other. The obligation of one spouse to support the other financially for a temporary or permanent basis is decided on a case-by-case basis as agreed to by the parties or at the court's discretion.
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)
Counseling or Mediation Requirements:When a case is ordered to mediation, the case shall be placed on the court docket for final hearing. The mediation process must be completed not later than sixty (60) days after the mediation order is entered. However, the sixty (60) day period may be extended by the court upon the court's own motion, upon agreement of the parties, or upon the recommendation of the mediator, but may not be extended beyond the date set for final hearing. Upon completion of the mediation process, the mediator shall promptly file the mediation report.
Child Custody:When minor children are involved in a dissolution of marriage, the Indiana courts will do everything possible to help lessen the emotional trauma the children may be experiencing. If the parents cannot come to an agreement regarding the issues involving the children, the court will establish the custody order at its discretion.
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)
Child Support:Indiana child support guidelines are based on the Income Shares Model for calculating child support. The monthly support amount determined by applying the guidelines is divided proportionally according to each parent's income. These two support amounts are then offset to establish which parent will pay the other parent for support of the child. All income is typically verified by examining past W-2's and child support worksheets are available at the courthouse.
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: The above synopsis of Indiana divorce laws is original material which is owned and copyrighted by Divorce Source, Inc. This material has been adapted from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction is prohibited. Violation of this notice will result in immediate legal action.
Courts in Indiana make custody determinations in the best interests of the child. While the court makes no presumption that one parent is better than the other based on gender, it is required to consider certain relevant factors before awarding custody, including the age and gender of the child and the child's and parents' wishes (special consideration is given to the wishes of a child who is 14 years of age or older), parental and family interaction, and the child's home, school and community adjustment. The mental and physical health of both child and parents will be taken into consideration, as well as any evidence that domestic violence occurred in the marriage.
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