Every state has different processes for divorce. For instance, the waiting period for a divorce may be up to a year in some cases. In Indiana, it is sixty (60) days. News stories of the day report on large alimony awards ordered in some cases. Indiana does not have alimony, just child support, which is set under the Indiana Child Support Rules and Guidelines. This noted, this blog walks through how the divorce process begins in Indiana.
A divorce starts with the Petitioner filing a Verified Petition for Dissolution of marriage under the divorce. Although not required in a divorce case, the Respondent may file a response, but this is not required. Once this is done, if the parties are able to work through their issues and reach an agreement, the trial court can divorce after the sixty (60) day “cooling off” period passes. Unfortunately, this rarely happens.
In most cases, there is a dispute about property and/or custody. With such disputes, it is important to know the statutory presumptions as it relates to property division and custody. The rebuttable presumption in a divorce case is that anything acquired before the marriage up to the date of filing for divorce is marital property subject to an equal division between the parties. [hyperlink to Indiana code sections. Insofar as physical custody of any children is concerned; the rebuttable presumption is one parent will get physical custody and other Indiana Parenting Time Guideline time.
These presumptions noted, the next step that is normally followed in the divorce process in Indiana is the parties, by their counsel, conduct discovery. “Discovery” is legal terminology for getting the necessary information from the other side to know what they need to know to settle the case at mediation or take the case to trial. In domestic cases, these are normally questions, known as Interrogatories, posed to the other side or a request for documents, known as Request for Production of Documents. In addition, Depositions may be taken or documents requested from third-parties, known as Third-Party Requests for Production.
Once discovery is completed, the case is likely in position to go to mediation or trial. This noted, before the court will set a final hearing, it has the authority to and will likely order the parties to mediation. And a significant number of cases settle in mediation. The reason for this is because the parties choose to settle on their terms rather than have a judge decide their case. There is certainty in settlement at mediation, unlike trial.
If the case does not resolve in mediation, then the case will be set for a final hearing. A final hearing of any duration may take several months to get set. This is because Indiana’s trial courts in Indiana’s ninety-two (92) counties manage nearly one million cases per year. Additionally, an incarcerated defendant in a criminal case has a right to a speedy trial, and this may “bump” your final divorce hearing. Once the hearing is complete, the judge will not rule on the divorce from the bench but will take the matter “under advisement”, consider the evidence, and then issue a written divorce order that will be sent to the parties’ attorneys.
This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates who handle domestic cases across all of Indiana. This blog is not intended to be relied upon for any given legal issue or matter. This blog is not legal advice. The aim of the blog is to make you a more educated legal consumer. This blog is an advertisement.