When contemplating a divorce, or “dissolution of marriage,” it is important to understand the unique laws and procedures governing legal separations and divorces in Indiana. If you obtain a divorce in Indiana, your marriage will legally end and you and your ex-spouse will be considered single and may re-marry. There are other options to consider besides divorce, such as legal separation or annulment. Divorce can be a lengthy and emotional process so it is important to contact an Indiana divorce attorney to help you.
Indiana Legal Separation / Separation Contracts
Legal separations are allowed in Indiana and are granted on the same grounds as divorces (see “Grounds for Divorce” below). However, a legal separation is not a divorce. The parties will remain married, and are unable to re-marry. Legal separations are granted in circumstances when the court finds that conditions in or circumstances of the marriage make it intolerable for both parties to live together, but that the marriage should be maintained.
Indiana Grounds For Divorce
In the petition for divorce you will need to state your “grounds for divorce,” or the reasons why you are seeking a divorce in Indiana. You will have the option to file for a fault or no-fault divorce. For no-fault divorces, the parties must show an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage” to establish grounds. For a fault based divorce, you must demonstrate one of the following grounds in Indiana: (1) conviction of either of the parties, subsequent to the marriage, of a felony; (2) impotence, existing at the time of the marriage; or (3) incurable insanity of either party for a period of at least 2 years. It is important to discuss this matter further with an Indiana divorce attorney.
Indiana Divorce Residency Requirements
To file for divorce, either party must have been a resident of Indiana or have been stationed at a United States military installation in Indiana for at least 6 months prior to filing for divorce. The petition must be filed in the circuit court with jurisdiction over the county in which either party resides.
Obtaining an annulment in Indiana declares your marriage invalid, such that it never properly existed in the first place. You will not need to file for a divorce, as the granting of an annulment means that you were never married. Indiana has specific reasons for granting an annulment including, but not limited to: (1) one party’s being underage; (2) fraud; (3) incompetence to consent; (4) bigamy; and/or (5) attempting to evade Indiana marriage laws by marrying in another state. Annulments are uncommon so it is important to discuss these matters with an Indiana divorce attorney.
Indiana Property Division
Indiana is an “equitable distribution” state. Equitable distribution means that the court will divide marital property on terms considered to be fair, which does not necessarily mean equal (50/50). In an petition for dissolution of marriage, the Indiana court will divide the property of the parties based on whether the property was: (1) owned by either spouse before the marriage; (2) acquired by either spouse in his or her own right: (A) after the marriage; and (B) before final separation of the parties; or (3) acquired by their joint effort. In making the equitable distribution determination, the court will consider, among other things, the contributions of each spouse to the marital estate, the total value of the parties’ property, the economic circumstances of each party, any misconduct that may have occurred, and the amount of spousal support awarded. Property distribution in a divorce can be a lengthy and emotional process; it is advisable to contact an Indiana divorce attorney.
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