How to File for a Divorce in Indiana
By Beverly Bird
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There is usually an easy way and a hard way to get a divorce. If you and your spouse are contesting any issues, you’re probably stuck with doing it the hard way. If you live in Indiana, however, the state streamlines the process a little to make it as painless for you as possible.
Research Indiana’s residency requirements to make sure you meet them. You must have lived in the state for at least six continuous months, and those months must immediately precede the date you file for divorce. For instance, if you live in Indiana from January through June, then leave for a month and return, you can’t file for divorce in August. You must wait until the following January.
Access a form for a verified petition for dissolution of marriage. Indiana has different petitions for different circumstances, such as whether you have children. You can visit your county courthouse and explain your situation to the clerk there, who can give you the correct form. You can also find petitions online at the Indiana.gov website and elsewhere, but make sure you get the correct one to match the personal details of your divorce.
Complete your petition by filling in the spaces on the form. If you’re the one filing for divorce, you’re the petitioner and your spouse is the respondent. Give your names, the date of your marriage, and the date you separated. Provide the names and birth dates of your children, if you have any, and tell the court which parent you want them to live with the majority of the time. Fill in the boxes explaining what property you own together and how you would like to see it divided.
Decide if you want to request a provisional hearing. If you ask for one, the court will send you a notice soon after you file your divorce petition. The notice will tell you when to appear in court so a judge can make decisions regarding anything you'd like him to address while you’re waiting for your divorce to become final. This might be a request for temporary child support, spousal support or a visitation arrangement for your children. Indiana lets you ask for this hearing before the final trial date at the end of your divorce petition so you don’t have to file extra motion papers or pleadings with the court later.
Sign your petition and have three copies made, two for the court and one for your records. One of the court's copies should be on white paper, and the other should be on pale green paper. The green paper provides an alert to court personnel that your document contains confidential information, such as identifiers for you or your children.
File your petition with the court. Indiana makes this an easy step as well. You have the choice of submitting your petition to either Superior Court, Domestic Relations Court or the Circuit Court, whichever is most convenient for you. However, whichever court you choose should be in the county where you reside. Call ahead to learn the filing fee because this can vary a little from county to county.
Under Indiana’s law, court documents are public records, and anyone can have access to them. When submitting your petition, delete your confidential information, such as Social Security numbers and birth dates, from the white copy but leave the information in the green copy. The white copy will be the one that’s open to the public.
Beverly Bird has been writing professionally since 1983. She is the author of several novels including the bestselling "Comes the Rain" and "With Every Breath." Bird also has extensive experience as a paralegal, primarily in the areas of divorce and family law, bankruptcy and estate law. She covers many legal topics in her articles.