Either you or your spouse must be a resident of Indiana for at least six months to file a divorce in Indiana. You should generally file the divorce in the Indiana county where you are living, or where your spouse is living.
A divorce cannot be finalized until at least sixty (60) days have passed from the date the divorce petition was filed.
You can ask the Court to set the case for what is called a “provisional hearing”. At the provisional hearing, the Court can enter temporary orders that will be in place until the divorce is finalized. The Court can issue orders about the parties’ children, property and debts. You don’t need to ask the Court to set a provisional hearing if you don’t need any court orders right away.
The wife in a divorce action is entitled to ask for the return of her maiden name or a former name. She must tell the court if she wants to change her name.
All property that was obtained during the marriage or before the marriage by either party is considered marital property. The court will generally divide the marital property on a 50-50% basis. The court can give one party more than 50% of the marital property if there is a good reason for doing so. Some reasons the Court may give more than 50% of the property to one party include:
- Which spouse provided the money for the property;
- Whether the property was given as a gift to one of the spouses;
- The current financial situation of each spouse;
- The earnings or earnings ability of each spouse.
The court will also generally divide all of the marital debts on a 50-50% basis. Marital debts are typically debts that were incurred during the marriage in both parties’ names. Marital debt can also include debts that are in only one of the spouse’s name or that were incurred before the marriage.
Until the Court issues a custody order, both the husband and wife have equal rights to physical custody of the children. When deciding custody, the Court can consider many factors, including:
- The age and sex of the child.
- The wishes of the child’s parent or parents.
- 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.
- The interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child’s parents, siblings and other people who affect the child’s best interests.
- The child’s adjustment to the child’s home, school, and community.
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
- Evidence of a pattern of domestic or family violence by either parent.
There are two types of custody that a court can order in Indiana. The Court can grant “joint” custody in either situation:
Legal Custody is major decision making power concerning the children (such as decisions about education, religion, health). Joint legal custody is where parents will share decision making for big decisions concerning the children. The court can order it even if both parents don’t agree to joint custody if the judge finds it is in the best interests of the children and if the judge finds that the parents will be able to communicate and make decisions together concerning the children.
Physical Custody involves where the children will physically reside. Joint physical custody is where the parents will each have the children one half of the time.
The most common court order concerning custody is where the parents share joint legal custody (major decision making power), one parent has primary physical custody (where the children live most of the time), and the other parent has parenting time.
The court will generally grant parenting time to the non-custodial parent (the parent who does not have physical custody), unless that parenting time would be physically or emotionally harmful to the children. The Court will often grant parenting time pursuant to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. If standard parenting time would be harmful to the children, then a court can order restricted or supervised.
The Court will generally order the non-custodial parent to pay child support pursuant to the Indiana Child Support Guidelines (unless that parent’s only income is SSI, or that parent is incarcerated). There is a special child support prosecutor in each Indiana county that can assist with establishing and enforcing child support. You can estimate the child support obligation and do a Child Support Worksheet at the following website:
The Court will issue orders about which parent claims the children on taxes, and who is to provide health insurance for the children. The IRS rule is that the custodial parent claims the children for tax purposes. The Court can order that the non-custodial parent claim one or more children in certain tax years. If the Court orders that the non-custodial parent can claim a child for tax purposes, then that parent can claim the child ONLY if that parent has paid 95% of the child support the non-custodial parent was ordered to pay for that tax year.
If you and your spouse agree on all issues to be decided in the divorce (issues related to your children and about division of property and debts) AND if you and your spouse put that agreement into writing and file the agreement with the Court, the divorce can be finalized without a hearing. You and your spouse must also sign a waiver of final hearing. There are specific forms the Court typically wants you to use to submit an agreement which can be found at https://indianalegalhelp.org/.
Even if you think you and your spouse have reached an agreement, if there is a hearing set, you should go to the hearing to make sure your spouse does not ask for court orders that you don’t want.
The Court’s final divorce order on the issues of property and debts almost never can be changed. The Court can change custody, parenting time and/or child support as future circumstances change.