Dissolution of marriage may involve property and debt division as well as support, custody and visitation rights. In the states of Illinois and Indiana, there are two types of grounds that are lawful for filing in divorce, including: fault and no fault. The following frequently asked questions covers dissolution of marriage in Indiana, with additional information for Porter and Lake Counties
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR FILING A DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE CASE?
Indiana Law requires the following in order to file a petition for dissolution of marriage:
- One of the parties must be a resident of Indiana for the immediate 6 months prior to filing.
- One of the parties must be a resident for the immediate 3 months in the county of filing.
- One or more of the following grounds must exist:
- Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
- The conviction of either of the parties, subsequent to the marriage, of a felony.
- Impotence, existing at the time of the marriage.
- Incurable insanity of either party for a period of at least two (2) years.
Lake County has an additional requirement that must be satisfied before a case is filed. The Lake County Courts require the filing attorney to contact the other spouse's attorney (or spouse if no attorney) to attempt to reach a cooperative resolution for provisional matters, parental education requirements and related issues. The only exception to this rule is if the client's safety or position is jeopardized.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER FILING?
After the filing of the Petition for Dissolution, at least 60 days must pass before a final hearing or a final agreed decree and settlement order can be entered in court.
After the filing of the Petition and before the entry of the Decree (Order) of Dissolution, a provisional hearing can take place to determine who has temporary possession of the marital home, possession or use of vehicles, payment of bills, temporary custody and parenting time (visitation). Sometimes, temporary maintenance will be awarded, depending on the circumstances. Oftentimes, a provisional hearing can be avoided if the parties can reach an agreement that is filed in court.
During the period immediately after filing and before a final order or decree is entered, the parties must exchange all information concerning assets, income and debts. Both Porter and Lake Counties require the parties to complete a financial disclosure form that contains the information that must be exchanged. In Lake County, a copy of the financial disclosure form can be downloaded from www.lakecountykids.org.
In Porter and Lake County, parties with children must attend a 4 hour program designed to make the transition for the children much easier. They do not have to attend the program together. In Lake County, a schedule for the program can be downloaded at www.lakecountykids.org. A certificate of completion must be filed with the court before a dissolution of marriage can be finalized. The parties are also required to complete an online program that is located at the www.Lakecountykids.org website and show proof of completion.
Although a dissolution of marriage can be final after 60 days, this does not usually happen even with an agreement. Until such time that a final hearing takes place, many different things can occur in addition to the financial declaration form exchange. A custodial evaluator may be hired if the parties are both seeking custody. A guardian ad litem may be appointed to represent the interests of the children. An appraiser can be hired to determine property value among other things. A parenting time coordinator may be appointed to facilitate parenting time between the parties. Under certain circumstances, the courts can require that the parties submit their case to a neutral third party known as a mediator. The mediator can listen to both sides and make recommendations that are designed to resolve all or some of the issues between the parties. This may occur with or without an attorney.
WHAT HAPPENS IF ONE SPOUSE SLOWS THE PROCESS DOWN OR FAILS TO FOLLOW COURT ORDERS?
If one of the parties fails to follow a court order, a Petition for Contempt can be filed in court and ultimately, the court will conduct a hearing on those issues. In more complex cases or cases where it is taking a long time to move things along to final hearing, the court can conduct status hearings, case management hearings and set deadlines for the parties.
CAN I AVOID APPEARING IN COURT?
If the parties agree on a provisional order, fulfill the divorce education requirements and reach an agreement on all issues, an agreed provisional order can be filed and approved by the court to include: a waiver of final hearing, summary decree and property, child support and custody agreements.
HOW IS PROPERTY DIVIDED?
Under Indiana law, absent a prenuptial agreement, the parties' debts and assets are divided on a 50/50 basis. It does not matter whether an asset is only in one spouse's name or was acquired before the marriage or after. Indiana courts have the discretion to divide the assets differently and will look at a number of factors, including: 1) contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the property 2) inheritance or gifted property 3) the award of the family residence 4) conduct of parties relating to the waste of marital assets such as gambling losses 5) comparative income of both parties.
IS ALIMONY OR SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE AVAILABLE IN INDIANA?
It is possible to obtain spousal maintenance/alimony for up to 3 years under certain circumstances. This includes: a spouse being physically or mentally incapacitated, a disabled spouse without sufficient property to provide for their needs, a spouse that is taking care of a disabled child who requires the spouse to forgo employment.
CAN A WIFE CHANGE HER NAME?
At the time that the court enters the final decree, whether by agreement or hearing, the wife can have her maiden name restored.
WHAT ARE MY CHILD CUSTODY RIGHTS? For child custody rights, click here.
Many couples retain lawyers to prepare their dissolution of marriage to act as a buffer between spouses. In addition, there are usually a high number of documents that must be completed in order to file a divorce. If you are filing for a dissolution of marriage in Lake or Porter Counties in Indiana contact Burton Padove to assist you.
Mr. Burton Padove has been privileged to represent the legal rights of spouses over the course of his long career. You privacy and confidentiality is assured at Padove Law.
Call Burton Padove for a free consultation at 219-836-2200 or 877-446-5294 for nationwide callers.