The purpose of the legal process of divorce is to end the legal relationship of a marriage. Indiana has no fault divorce, in that neither party has to prove that their spouse did something wrong to obtain a divorce. The party who wants the divorce only has to state that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Even if one party does not want a divorce, there is really nothing that they can do to stop it. As part of the divorce process, matters incidental to the divorce, such as child custody, parenting time, child and spousal support, property and debt division, and attorney fees will also be determined.
A divorce is initiated in Indiana by the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and the payment of the filing fee, which is approximately $150.00. The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage legally notifies the Court and the other spouse that there is a request that the marriage be terminated. To file a divorce in Indiana, one of the parties must have resided in the state for at least 6 months, and in the County in which the divorce is filed for at least 3 months. After the divorce is filed, there is a 60-day waiting period before the divorce can be final. If the parties have children, they will probably have to attend a Court ordered class on helping their children cope with the divorce.
What happens after the Petition for Dissolution is filed is primarily dictated by the relief sought in the Petition and the local procedure in the County in which the divorce is filed. If the Petition requests provisional relief, which is a temporary Order from the Court, and the parties are not able to agree upon the terms, then often a hearing is scheduled within the mandatory waiting period. After the Court hears arguments from the parties or their attorneys, it will issue a temporary Order governing such issues as child custody, child support, who occupies the marital home, and who pays which bills until the divorce is finalized. Once a provisional order is issued, or if neither party requests a provisional Order, the parties will have an opportunity to negotiate a final Order (Divorce Decree). If the parties are unable to agree upon final terms, then, again, a hearing will be scheduled, and the Court will decide any contested issues. However, depending on the local procedures of the County in which the divorce was filed, the parties may be ordered to mediate their issues prior to the Court scheduling any hearings. Mediation is a possible alternative to a court hearing, can be voluntary, and is not the only possible way for the parties to resolve their differences outside of Court. Collaborative divorce is another process that is gaining popularity as an alternative to litigation and mediation.
Divorce Myth 1: A spouse who has committed adultery will lose everything
In states with no-fault divorce laws, such as Indiana, infidelity and other marital misconduct is rarely, if ever, considered in the distribution of assets. In a contested divorce, they may take financial misconduct such as hiding or dissipating assets into consideration.
Divorce Myth 2: Most contested divorces are settled in court
Only a small fraction of divorce cases ever go to trial. Most are settled out of court through negotiations between the two parties and their attorneys.
Divorce Myth 3: Marital property is only property that is jointly titled
Marital property, which is subject to division, is all property owned by either party, however titled, including all property brought to the marriage or inherited during the marriage. However, just because something is marital property, it does not necessarily follow that it will be divided. There are many defenses to an equal division of marital property, and the facts of each case govern whether a particular defense is applicable.