Mutual divorce, sometimes called uncontested or agreed divorce, is when both parties agree on all terms of the divorce and do not need any hearings. Uncontested divorces are preferred by the court and can save the parties quite a bit of time, money, and stress. Oftentimes parties to a mutual divorce attempt to complete the process on their own using online forms, without hiring an attorney. In some cases, this may result in an outcome agreeable to both parties; in other instances, it can be a very bad idea. This blog discusses uncontested divorces in Indiana and the steps for a mutual divorce that the parties need to take.
The state of Indiana offers downloadable divorce forms for parties who do not wish to hire an attorney. These forms are provided in a packet with all the forms you may possibly need in one download and it is up to you to determine which forms are required in your case. While there are instructions that you can also download, some of the information you provide on the settlement agreement may affect your legal rights in ways that you have not anticipated, so it is always a good idea to have an attorney review your agreement before filing it with the court. However, the first step for a mutual divorce is to write out your agreement to ensure that there are no contested issues, so downloading these forms and completing the settlement agreement is a great way to start.
While filling out the settlement agreement, you may find that there are issues you wish to include that are not on the form. As long as you plan to consult an attorney before filing anything with the court, you can simply add whatever you would like by handwriting it in on the back of one of the pages of the agreement form. There is no need to worry about using the proper language in your additions, as your attorney can help with that. For those who are concerned about using the correct language or who wish to ensure they do not leave out items simply because they did not think about them, a quick internet search should produce many examples of divorce settlement agreements that can be used to guide you in reaching an agreement and correctly wording each item.
It can also be helpful when taking this first step, to know which statutes govern the particular issues in your case, and what those statutes say about how the court would make a determination on each matter. There are one or more statutes governing the individual issues that may arise in a divorce, such as property division, spousal maintenance, child custody, parenting time, and child support. If any of these may apply in your case, consulting the statute can help you make a more informed decision when settling any disputes by providing you with a basic run-down of your rights and obligations in relation to the issue.
There are two statutes governing property division in a divorce. The first defines martial property that is subject to division by the court. The statute provides that all property owned by either party, whether acquired before or during the marriage, is marital property. The second creates a presumption for an equal division of marital property and enumerates factors the court will consider when one of the parties wishes to rebut the presumption as unjust or unfair.
Spousal maintenance is basically governed by one statute which describes the conditions under which a maintenance order may be entered. There are three reasons why spousal maintenance might be ordered: (1) incapacity of a spouse (2) custody of a child whose incapacity requires them to forego employment and (3) lack of earning capacity and education or job training of a spouse due to homemaking and/or childcare responsibilities.
The main statute involved in child custody orders provides that there will be no presumption in favor of either parent and custody determinations will be made based upon the best interests of the child. The statute then lists some of the factors that the court should consider when making a custody decision.
For a parent who is not granted custody, reasonable parenting time rights will be granted, unless the court finds that parenting time may cause physical harm or impairment of emotional development to the child. The minimum amount of parenting time that a non-custodial parent should receive is the time outlined in the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines.
Child support is based on a mathematical formula and can be easily calculated using the Indiana Child Support Calculator. The Child Support Rules and Guidelines can help in determining the amount to use on each line of the calculator.
If you and your spouse are considering divorce and are in agreement on all issues, the experienced attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. can help you ensure that your agreement does not cause you any unforeseen complications and that all required documents are properly completed and filed with the court. 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.