Indiana Divorce Guide

Do It Yourself Divorce

Indiana offers its residents both fault and DIY Divorceno fault divorces. Fault divorces require that one spouse accuse the other spouse of behavior that caused the demise of the marriage. Fault divorces go down a path toward trial, although most get settled prior to any actual trial. No fault divorces simply state that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

You must have established residency

In order to file for divorce in this state, you or your spouse must have been a resident in this state for at least 6 months just prior to the filing. You or your spouse must also have been a resident in the county you file in for 3 months.

The Process

Submit divorce papers to the court

The forms you submit establishes the course your divorce travels along. If you are doing the divorce yourself (sometimes referred to as Pro Se or Pro Per), you must follow the procedures of the court, including the submission of the proper forms correctly filled out (see our Divorce Forms tab above). Instructions on how to fill them out are included with our forms. The spouse filing for divorce (the plaintiff) begins the process with The Petition, which sets forth the grounds (no-fault) for the divorce and details how all issues will be resolved. The Petition must be filed in the Superior Court, Circuit Court or the Domestic Relations Court of the county where either spouse resided for at least 3 months. Filing fees range by county, and you can expect to pay more than $102.00. DO NOT SIGN any paperwork until you can do so in front of a notary. In addition to the Petition, you will need the following forms:

  • Summons
  • Financial Declaration, and
  • Child Support Obligation Worksheet (if you have minor children).

After you have filed, you must legally notify (serve) your spouse a copy of your petition. State law prevents you from serving your spouse yourself. You must use a process server or your local Sheriff’s Department. Either option will cost a nominal fee. Check with the clerk of the court for guidance when you file your Petition.

The Respondent must answer the Petition

Your spouse must then reply to (or Answer) your Petition. If your spouse fails to answer the petition, the court can declare a default judgment in your favor, and award you all or most of what you requested in your Petition. The court issuing a default judgment does not close the door though. If you both are in agreement, you should complete a Settlement Agreement, which details how you will divide assets and debt, any marital property, marital or child support and how you two will manage parenting if you have kids. The Respondent spouse may also choose to sign the Waiver of Service form, which acknowledges receiving the documents.

A hearing is scheduled

Generally speaking (county courts schedules and court dockets vary), a hearing is scheduled once your spouse has returned the answer to the petition. By law, 60 days or more will pass before the hearing gets scheduled. Both parties will be notified of dates and times. If you are the Petitioner, you must attend the hearing. It is optional for your spouse.

If there is a chance your Ex will try to manipulate you or the kids with the visitation schedule, put an on-line Parenting Plan in place. Nothing stops the game-playing like a schedule in black and white. Simply tell your Ex that in order for the schedule to be changed, it must be discussed and agreed to; otherwise it is not changing.
Parents must file a Parenting Plan

Within 30 days of the court receiving the Answer, one or both of you must file a plan with the court (see our section on Parenting Plans in the tab above). The court will determine if your plan meets state guidelines. If it is agreed to by both parties, it can be incorporated in the the final divorce decree and become part of the court order.

You divide assets or the court will
How to DIY Divorce If you both are in agreement about dividing the marital assets, you will detail that in a Separation Agreement and Property Settlement submitted to the court. If you cannot agree, the court will make the decisions for you (see the Property Division tab above).

The Hearing

At the hearing, the judge will ask you questions to be certain you understand what you are doing and to verify the facts and statements you have provided. If that hearing goes well, you will likely be divorced. Depending on the court, you could be divorced on the spot or be notified by mail weeks later.

Summary Dissolution – a fast track divorce

The court may grant a Summary Dissolution (a decree of divorce from the bench without a hearing) if all paperwork has been submitted correctly, signed by the parties, and a written Settlement Agreement has buttoned up any and all contested issues. You can merge settled issues like custody and support of the children, maintenance, and the manner of disposing of property into the divorce decree. If you have an agreement of the disposition of property, and you merge that into the final decree, that component of the decree will not be subject to modification. Special note: the court needs jurisdiction over both of you if it is to order spousal maintenance (alimony) or to divide property.

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