Divorce – State FAQ – Indiana
Residency requirements, venue and procedures
Q: How long must I have lived in Indiana prior to filing for divorce in an Indiana court?
A: At least one of the parties must have been a resident of Indiana for a least six months prior to the filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage and a resident of the county where the petition is filed for three months immediately prior to the filing of the petition..
Q: What are the terms used to identify the parties in a divorce proceeding?
A: The party filing the action is called the Petitioner, while the other party to the divorce is referred to as the Respondent.
Q: What is “venue,” and what is the proper venue for a divorce case?
A: “Venue” refers to which type of court and in what locality the case is filed. In Indiana, proper venue for the divorce action is the Superior, Circuit or Domestic Relations Courts. The Petition must be filed in a county where one party has resided for at least 3 months.
Q: What is the title of the document initiating the action for divorce? The order granting the divorce?
A: The title of the document initiating the divorce proceeding is a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, while the title of the order granting the divorce is referred to as the Final Dissolution of Marriage Decree.
Q: Are there any waiting periods associated with a divorce action?
A: No decree of dissolution of marriage will be issued until at least sixty days have elapsed from the date of the filing of the petition.
Grounds for dissolution of marriage
Q: What is meant by “grounds for divorce”?
A: A “ground” for divorce is a “reason” for divorce. A set of judicially recognized reasons for divorce exist in Indiana. You must use one or more of these reasons to justify your divorce.
Q: What are the recognized grounds for divorce in Indiana?
A: The State of Indiana permits judgments of dissolution of marriage to be granted upon the following grounds:
1. Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage;
2. Conviction of a felony by either party;
3. Impotence which existed at the time of the marriage; and,
4. Incurable insanity of either party for a period of at least two years.
Q: What does the term “spousal support” (or, “alimony”) mean?
A: “Spousal support” (sometimes called “alimony”) is money paid by one spouse to the other due to the payee spouse’s loss of the benefit of the payor spouse’s income due to the divorce.
Q: Is spousal support available while the divorce is pending in court, or only after the divorce has become final?
A: The court may order that one spouse support the other during the pendancy of the divorce action and/or after the divorce has become final. Support awarded pending the final decree of divorce is not to extend beyond the period of time necessary for the prosecution of the divorce action.
Q: What factors will the court consider when determining how much alimony to award to a party?
A: If the court determines a spouse to be physically or mentally incapacitated to the extent that spouse is unable to support himself, the court may order support for that spouse during the period of incapacity. Further, if the court finds that a spouse lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her needs and is the custodian of a child whose condition requires that the spouse forego employment, the court will order support for that spouse in an amount and for a term that the court deems appropriate. A list of factors the court will consider in making this decision can be viewed in the Divorce Information section on the Indiana Divorce Main Page.
Distribution of property
Q: On what basis does the court decide how marital property is divided?
A: Indiana is a so-called “equitable distribution” state. This means that the division of property and debts between the divorcing parties should be fair and equitable, but not necessarily equal. While the trial court’s discretion will not be disturbed on appeal without a showing of clear abuse, the court will consider the factors enumerated on the Indiana Divorce Main Page.
Q: Is the “separate property” of one spouse subject to being divided up?
A: The question here is whether property “belonging to” one of the parties should be included in the marital estate for purposes of an equitable division. Generally, separate property acquired before the marriage or by gift or inheritance during the marriage may be excluded from the marital estate if neither the property nor its income has been used for the common benefit of the parties during their marriage.
Q: What if the parties occasionally use an item of separate property (for example, silver table utensils inherited by the wife) for the benefit of both parties?
A: The property may be subject to division. Where the parties regularly use property acquired by one party before marriage for the common benefit of the parties, it is more likely to be available for consideration in dividing property. The frequency of use may be considered by the court in making the decision.
Child custody and visitation
Q: What is child custody and visitation?
A: “Child custody” refers to which parent will have legal custody of the child(ren), i.e. with whom the child(ren) will live. “Visitation” is the topic of the non custodial parent’s ability to visit/spend time with the child(ren).
Q: Can grandparents seek visitation privileges?
A: Yes. A grandparent may seek visitation rights if the child’s parent is deceased, the child was born out of wedlock, or the parents’ marriage was dissolved in Indiana.
Q: If the parents cannot agree on child custody and visitation issues, on what basis will the court decide?
A: The court shall determine custody and enter a custody order in accordance with the best interests of the child. In determining the best interests of the child, there is no presumption favoring either parent. The court shall consider all relevant factors, including those listed on the Indiana Divorce Main Page.
Q: What is “child support”?
A: Child support is money paid by the non custodial parent to the custodial parent in order to meet the needs of the child(ren).
Q: To what should the parties look for guidance regarding amount of child support to be paid? What standard will the court use if the parties cannot agree?
A: In an action for dissolution of marriage, the court may order either or both parents to pay any amount reasonable for the support of a child, without regard to marital misconduct, after consideration of all relevant factors, including:
1. The financial resources of the custodial parent;
2. The standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had not been dissolved;
3. The physical or mental condition of the child and the child’s educational needs; and,
4. The financial resources and needs of the non custodial parent.