Whether you plan to hire an attorney or handle your divorce yourself, you should know the basics of Indiana divorce law. This will help you feel more comfortable divorcing without an attorney or if you intend to hire one, have a better grasp on what issues are involved and what information your attorney may need and why. It can also facilitate a more efficient and intelligible conversation with the attorneys you meet so that you can make a better choice about who to hire. This blog discusses familiarizing yourself with Indiana divorce laws.
The first law anyone wanting to divorce in Indiana should know is if Indiana courts have jurisdiction to hear your divorce and if so, in which court should your divorce be filed. To file a divorce in Indiana or in any specific county in Indiana, at least one of the parties must meet the statutory requirements of residency. The requirements are that at the time of filing the petition for divorce one of the parties has been a resident of the state or stationed at a U.S. military installation within the state for at least the six months immediately preceding the filing of the petition and a resident of the county or stationed at a U.S. miliary installation within the county for at least the three months immediately preceding the filing of the petition (I.C. 31-15-2-6). Once it has been determined that you can file your divorce in Indiana and you have chosen the proper county in which to file, the next group of codes with which you should become familiar are the two most general and important statutes governing the distribution of property.
The first of these is the statute defining marital property, or what property can be divided by the court. This division of property statute (I.C. 31-15-7-4) defines marital property as any property owned by either party whether acquired before the marriage, during the marriage in their own right, or during the marriage by the joint efforts of both parties. This concept of marital property is commonly known as the “one pot theory”. The second of these statutes provides that an equal division of marital property is presumed to be just and reasonable, but the presumption can be rebutted by a party who submits relevant evidence that in their particular situation an equal division would not be just and reasonable. The statute contains a list of factors the court must consider before deviating from an equal division of property (I.C. 31-15-7-5), including, but not limited to: the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the property, regardless of whether the contribution was income producing, the extent to which the property was acquired by each spouse before the marriage or through inheritance or gift… the conduct of the parties during the marriage as related to the disposition or dissipation of their property.
Divorcing parties with children should become particularly familiar with physical custody and parenting time laws. The main statute governing physical custody of a child is Indiana’s custody order statute (I.C. 31-17-2-8) which provides that there shall be no presumption in favor of either parent and custody shall be decided based on the best interests of the child. The statute then enumerates factors that the courts must consider when determining a child’s best interests. These factors include, but are not limited to the age and sex of the child, the child’s adjustment to home, school, and the community, the child’s interaction and relationship with each parent, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests, and the child’s wishes, with more weight given to the wishes of a child who is at least 14 years of age. Parenting time is governed by several statutes, the most important of which is the parenting time rights statute (I.C. 31-17-4-1) which provides that a parent who is not awarded physical custody, or the non-custodial parent, shall be entitled to reasonable parenting time unless the court finds it would endanger the child’s physical health or emotional well-being. Reasonable parenting time is considered and defined by the Indiana parenting time guidelines, with which every divorced or divorcing parents should be intimately familiar.
It should be noted here that Indiana recognizes two types of child custody, physical and legal custody. The laws described above concern only physical custody, which is the child’s physical location at any given time. Legal custody addresses which parent has the authority to make important decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, such as educational, religious, and healthcare arrangements and accommodations (I.C. 31-17-2-17). Legal custody may be granted to either the custodial or non-custodial parent (I.C. 31-17-2-14) or jointly to both parents. Matters considered in making an award of joint custody (I.C. 31-17-2-15) include, but are not limited to the suitability of each parent, whether the parties are willing and able to communicate and cooperate in advancing the child's welfare, whether the parties: live in close proximity to each other and plan to continue to do so.
This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. It is for general educational purposes. The blog is not intended to be relied upon for any legal matter or issue. The blog is not legal advice. This is an advertisement.