The term divorce refers to a court procedure in which the legal marriage between two parties is dissolved. Each state has their own specific laws regarding divorce, such as residency requirements, as well as their own procedure for divorce. However, the majority of states follow two main types of divorce: no fault divorce, and fault based divorce.
As is implied by the name, a no fault divorce does not require that either party prove any wrongdoing or fault in order to grant the divorce. In some states, simply declaring that you no longer wish to be married, or no longer get along with one another, is enough. However, in other states, you may be required to live apart from each other for a specified amount of time before you are allowed to file for a no fault divorce.
The grounds for a no fault divorce are incompatibility, irreconcilable differences, or irremediable breakdown of the marriage. Essentially, all three reasons amount to the same thing: the parties cannot get along and would like to dissolve their legal union.
Fault-based divorces are granted when the party filing for the divorce is able to provide a specific reason as to why their spouse is responsible for the failure of their marriage. There are several traditional grounds for a fault divorce, including but not limited to:
- Cruelty, such as physical abuse;
- Desertion for a specific amount of time;
- Confinement in prison for a number of years; or
- Inability to consummate the marriage.
One reason why a party may want to file for a fault divorce, as opposed to a no fault divorce, is that doing so may eliminate the mandatory separation period that is required of no fault divorces.
Additionally, some states may distribute a greater share of marital property, or alimony, to the party able to prove that the other party is at fault. Several states, including California and Florida, do not allow for fault divorces at all. In those states, only no fault divorces may be granted, even in cases in which a spouse has violated the traditional grounds for a fault divorce.
It is important to note that Indiana is a no fault divorce state. However, there are a few major differences between Indiana and other no fault divorce states. One of these is that Indiana provides the filing spouse only a limited number of grounds on which to file for divorce.
There are only four reasons you may claim for filing for divorce in Indiana:
- Physical inability to reproduce since the beginning of the marriage;
- Incurable insanity of either party for two or more years;
- An irretrievable and complete breakdown of the marriage; or
- A felony conviction of either spouse at any point during the marriage.
Although counseling cannot be court ordered when a separation is being sought after, Indiana courts do have the power to order counseling when a couple is seeking a divorce. The court can order counseling if they believe that there is a possibility of reconciliation. Indiana courts may also require counseling if the couple has any children under the age of eighteen, or if either spouse requests counseling before proceeding with the divorce.
Additionally, the state of Indiana maintains residency requirements in order to file for divorce. At least one spouse must live in the state for at least six months. Additionally, at least one spouse must live in the county in which the divorce petition is filed for at least three months. Further, one or both spouses may move out of Indiana during the divorce proceedings if there are no minor children involved. However, if there are minor children involved, moving out of state may be prohibited as the spouses are expected to attend all divorce proceedings.
What Paperwork is Required to File for Divorce in Indiana, and Do I Need to Serve My Spouse with the Divorce Petition?
No matter the circumstances of the divorce, you will need the following forms to start the divorce:
- Verified Petition for Dissolution of Marriage;
- Financial Declaration;
- Summons; and
- Child Support Obligation (only if the couple has minor children).
All of the above are standard forms that are available through Indiana Courts’ Self-Service Legal Center. If you have already legally separated from your spouse, you will need to file divorce paperwork through the same court in which you filed for your separation.
Indiana expects that the petitioner will serve their spouse with divorce papers. This can be done either through a private process server, certified mail, or sheriff’s service. A sheriff’s service will require a fee, which should be issued to the county as well as the sheriff’s office.
Once the divorce petition has been filed, there is a sixty day waiting period before the divorce can be finalized. Once the sixty days are up, a hearing is held. At the hearing, if both spouses agree on all terms, they will receive their divorce decree. However, if either spouse contests any of the terms, the spouses will need to resolve those issues before receiving their final divorce decree.
You should absolutely consult with a skilled and knowledgeable divorce attorney when dissolving your marriage. The divorce process can be complicated and requires a good working knowledge of local and state laws.
An experienced family law attorney in your area can assist you in the entire divorce process, as well as ensure all necessary paperwork is filed on time. Additionally, they can represent your interests in court, as necessary.