By: Associate Attorney
Muncie, IN—Divorce laws vary widely between states. In order to file for divorce, one of the spouses must meet the state’s residency requirement. In Indiana, that time frame is six months. (Across the nation, it varies from zero days to more than one year.) Some believe you must divorce in the state that sanctified the marriage. This is untrue. An Indiana court may dissolve any marriage formed and recognized by another state.
Indiana is a so-called “no-fault” divorce state, which means a party need only prove that irreconcilable differences exist in order to obtain a judicial order dissolving the marriage (this was not the case prior to 1973 when Indiana law required a party prove marital misconduct in order to obtain an order dissolving the marriage.) And like many states, Indiana imposes a waiting period before granting a divorce. That waiting period is 60 days from date the action is filed. Other states require a period of over two years.
A judge, not a jury, will hear all matters in a dissolution action, and the judicial officer holds the power to decide all disagreements regarding the division of property, child custody, and child support. The divorcing spouses are allowed, and even encouraged, to settle all issues by agreement. But if they fail to do so, the judge will hold an evidentiary hearing and make a decision as to the contested issues.
Generally, all property owned and debts owed by each spouse will be divided by the court. This is the case even if one spouse attempted to hold certain property as his/her separate property during the marriage (though the existence of a valid prenuptial agreement can produce a different outcome.) Indiana law usually requires the judge to divide the property and debts equally between the two partners.
The existence of alimony varies by state, and an Indiana judge cannot make such an award; however, one spouse may be ordered to pay spousal maintenance to the other. This is permissible in three specific situations: a spouse is incapacitated; a spouse must forgo employment to care for an incapacitated child; and the marriage interrupted a spouse’s education, training, or employment and that spouse requires additional education or training to find employment.
Indiana courts may address issues seemingly unrelated to property, child custody, and child support. In some instances, the court may order the parties to seek counseling for themselves or a child of the parties if either party asks the judge for such an order. If one spouse dies before the dissolution proceeding is completed, the divorce case will be dismissed. And what is to become of beloved family pet? That, also, will be in the hands of the judge unless the divorcing couple can arrive at an amicable arrangement.
Dissolving a marriage built over the course of years and even decades is an intricate and complicated process which involves many facets of the legal system. Before jumping in, find a competent attorney to guide you through the process. The attorneys at Beasley & Gilkison, LLP are ready to discuss all aspects of the dissolution process with prospective clients.
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