Indiana has a fairly straightforward divorce process. It is only available to people that have been a resident of the state for at least six months, and have been a resident of the county where they are filing for at least three months. Here are some basics on the process.
Grounds for divorce
In Indiana, a no-fault divorce can be granted on the ground of an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.”
That means that neither spouse necessarily did anything wrong. Instead, the couple has simply chosen to end their marriage. Fault grounds for divorce are still available. This allows a spouse to get a divorce by proving that the other spouse did something wrong. This can include conviction of a felony, impotence, or incurable insanity.
Indiana law says that the final hearing dissolving a divorce cannot be held until at least 60 days after the petition for divorce was filed. For many couples, this rule is not a big deal because it will almost always take longer than that for a divorce to be worked out. A couple with a simple divorce, however, should probably go ahead and file quickly to get the clock ticking.
Issues resolved during the divorce
One important issue generally resolved during a divorce is the splitting of property owned by the couple. Indiana calls this the “disposition of property.” Property that one spouse brought into the marriage (or acquired after separation) is separate and each spouse keeps that. The property acquired by “joint efforts,” meaning during the marriage, must be split.
A court is supposed to divide the property “in a just and reasonable manner,” but the law creates a presumption that an equal split is the right thing to do.
That can be changed by evidence from one of the spouses, including evidence about who contributed to acquiring the property.
If the court finds that one spouse will struggle to fend for themselves the other spouse can be ordered to pay spousal support for up to three years. In the old days, a husband might be ordered to pay lifelong alimony to his ex-wife because it was presumed that she could not work. Today, it is more of a limited remedy to help a wife (or husband) get back on his or her feet after relying on a spouse for so long. The classic example is a hommemaker wife that is suddenly divorced at age 50. That is a tough time to start a new career, and in Indiana, that ex-wife could possibly get some financial support from her ex.
A court will also generally resolve any issues related to child custody. That means deciding where the child will live, or more commonly how the child will split time between the parents. One parent may also be ordered to pay child support to the other. The law says that “marital misconduct” should not be a factor in determining child support. Instead, the court should look at the financial resources of the custodial parent, the standard of living the child would have enjoyed if not for the divorce, and the financial resources of the noncustodial parent.