The divorce process varies from state to state and case to case. However, Indiana has a relatively short divorce “cooling off” period compared to some states. While a marriage is favored in Indiana, and there is a “cooling off” period it is relatively short. That said in any state, notwithstanding the cooling off period, a divorce can drag on for months or years in some cases. This blog explores the length of the divorce process in Indiana.
The place to start with any legal query is the controlling law. Under Indiana law, a court may not hold a final hearing “earlier than sixty (60) days after the initial [divorce] petition was held. That said, most divorces—even those with little-to-or no disputes—are rarely set and hear of a divorce decree entered on the sixtieth day. The reason for this is attorneys have to do due diligence and to discover or conduct third-party discovery which generally takes around two (2) months. Thus, a generally uncontested divorce may be accomplished in three (3) to four (4) months.
Unfortunately, most cases take several months to a year or more to resolve because of disputes between the parties. For example, if the parties have custody disputes, they may have a court-ordered custody evaluation which take between three (3) to six (6) months to complete before the case would be in a position to resolve or try. In addition, before the court will set a final hearing, it has the authority to and will likely order the parties to mediation. A significant number of cases settle in mediation.
This noted, many cases drag on much longer because one (1) spouse is fighting a legal battle and the other an emotional battle. An example would be where a husband cheats on his wife (the inverse could just as easily be true). The wife may seek retribution through the divorce process and drag it on even if it does not make financial sense. In many respects, the litigation itself becomes “therapy” for the scorned spouse and the cost loses meaning. While a party will be divorced by the Indiana courts if they allege the marriage is “irretrievably broken”, this does not mean that it will be a smooth process.
Another reason a case often pends for a protracted period is if the parties need a lengthy trial (e.g., two to three) days because of complex custody or financial issues. This may take a court several months to provide the parties that much time as Indiana’s trial court manage around one million cases per year for all cases in Indiana’s ninety-two (92) counties. Thus, a long court setting may take months to get.
In addition, a civil/criminal court has to address and provide speedy trial to criminal defendants who demand it and this may further push out any hearing or make a final hearing second-choice to a criminal jury trial. What this means is if the jury trial goes (most resolve by way of plea), the divorce case will be “bumped” and not heard. The court will re-set the case for a later date. Thus, this may also be a reason a case is delayed weeks or months.
Ultimately, how long a divorce case takes is decided by external variables (such as how long an expert takes to prepare a report for filing and trial) or how acrimonious the parties are as this translates into the litigation and its duration. It is not uncommon for a divorce to drag on for a year or more despite how much one party just wants to be done and move on with their life.
This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. who practice domestic law throughout Indiana. This blog is not intended to be relied upon as legal advice or for any specific matter. Additionally, the blog is not legal advice and cannot be relies upon for any legal matter. It is an advertisement.