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Dissolution of Marriage

posted Dec 1, 2017, 6:49 AM by Lane Siekman
Just an update to provide you with some general principles and concepts that relate to dissolution of marriage proceedings in the state of Indiana:

1.  Residency Requirement: In order to file a divorce petition in Indiana, you have to be a resident of the State of Indiana for six (6) months prior to the filing and a resident of the county where you are filing for three (3) months prior to the filing of the petition.  Parties can, by mutual agreement, file in a county where they do not reside.  As long as neither party contests the jurisdiction of the non-resident county, the divorce can proceed in that county.

2.  Divorce Workshop: In Southeast Indiana, when a divorce involves minor children both the mother and father are required to attend a divorce workshop.  Mother and father are not required to attend together.  No mandatory counseling exists in Indiana.

3.  Sixty Day Waiting Period: Once a dissolution petition is filed, you must wait sixty (60) days before the divorce can be finalized.  This is a “cooling off” period required by state statute and cannot be waived. This doesn’t mean your divorce will be finalized on the 61st day, it just means your divorce is eligible to be finalized.

4.  Child Support: The Indiana Supreme Court has issued child support guidelines for the calculation of support to be paid by a non-custodial parent.  These guidelines include child support worksheets.  Various factors can affect the amount of support that a non-custodial parent may have to pay.  The child support guidelines also deal with payment of college expenses.  Worksheets exist in calculating who has what responsibility for college expenses.

5.  Parenting Time:  Parenting Time is the current legal term for visitation. The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines are presumed to apply in a divorce situation and set out minimum parenting time expectations.  Parenting Time is increased as a child gets older.  The parenting time guidelines also deal with issues of how Mom and Dad should conduct themselves for pick up, drop off and other parenting time matters.

6.  Custody: There are three basic types of custody arrangements.  These include sole custody, joint custody with one parent having primary physical possession and joint legal and physical custody.  Various factors in a divorce situation effect which type of custody arrangement is appropriate.  Even though you may be divorced from your spouse, you will have to deal with them forever because of your kids.  This fact requires that you, at a minimum, maintain a cordial and working relationship with your ex-spouse for the benefit of your kids.

7.  Property and Debt Division: The presumption in the State of Indiana is that all marital debt and property is to be divided on an equal basis between a husband and wife.  The definition of a marital asset includes employment retirement/pension plans and insurance policies with cash value.  The 50/50 presumption can be rebutted if you can meet certain criteria set out by statute.  For example, if you inherit property from your family and can show that this inherited property has been kept separate from other marital assets, you have grounds to rebut the 50/50 presumption.

8.  Finalization of the Divorce: A divorce can basically be finalized in one of two ways.  If the parties are unable to agree on issues, the matter is set for a final hearing , evidence submitted and a judge decides issues for the divorcing couple.  The other way to finalize the divorce is for the parties to reduce their agreement to writing and submit a waiver of final hearing to the court.  With an agreement, the divorce can be finalized without ever seeing the inside of a courtroom.

9.  Self Help. The Indiana Supreme Court has some general information and forms to be used in representing yourself in a divorce situation. These forms can be found at www.in.gov/judiciary/selfserve/forms  .  It is possible to represent yourself in a divorce situation.  However, I raise an old adage as a warning:  “A person who represents himself has a fool for a client.”

10.  Mediation:  There is no mandatory mediation for divorce cases in Southeast Indiana.  However, a family mediation may assist to help resolve contested issues in divorce cases through mediation. 

If you are in the middle of marital difficulties, seeking professional or pastoral counseling is an excellent way to address issues that are causing strife.  I’ve seen counseling do a lot of good for a lot of people, but it really only works if both parties want it to work. Remember that the Court can only resolve the legal issues before it and that a lot of emotional trauma occurs in a divorce. Often the emotional issues overshadow the legal matters in a case.  

Every legal situation is different and what is appropriate in one matter may not be appropriate in another setting.  
Because each case is fact sensitive, you need to seek competent legal counsel to assist you.