Obtaining a divorce can be a drawn-out process, but that doesn’t mean it has to be. If you live in the Indianapolis area, the divorce attorneys at ROBERTS MEANS, LLC are ready to assist with all of the legal aspects of the dissolution of a marriage.

To learn more about your options and the proper actions to take, contact us today at (317) 353-3600.

If you and your spouse are amicably parting ways (or reasonably close thereto), have no children, no business interests, and no significant financial interests to divide, you may be able to complete your divorce on your own and not have a divorce court judge make decisions for you. Sometimes a divorce consists only of dissolving the legal recognition of your marriage. If that is the case, the State of Indiana provides access to forms that can assist you through the process and can be found at this link: http://www.in.gov/judiciary/selfservice/2333.htm Feel free to give us a call to discuss if you can handle your case on your own and forego the services of a divorce attorney. We can assist with making that decision and will not hesitate to advise you to file for divorce without a divorce lawyer if the circumstances indicate you can handle it.

Where to File for Divorce

In virtually every case, the Petition for Dissolution – the document that opens up a divorce case – will be filed in the county in which you reside. Indiana statute sets forth that you must have lived in the state for 6 months and in the county where the Petition is filed for 3 months. As your divorce attorney, we can assist you with deciding where to file.

Does it Matter Who Files First?

Short answer: No. The only circumstance where it may make a difference is if the parties can file in two different counties. The judge will not assign any weight or preference to the spouse who filed for divorce. Sometimes it makes a difference to the person to be the one who filed, or to not be the one who filed. Beyond certain aspects of divorce court procedure which can be discussed should you call, it makes no difference.

Discovery

Discovery is how you find out what your spouse wants with regards to all aspects of the case – custody, parenting time, division of the marital estate. Discovery generally consists of two parts. Interrogatories are written questions that require written (or typed) answers. The key part to interrogatories is that they must be verified by the answering party. The answering party typically will be asked to state what orders they will request the divorce court enter. Our divorce court system is partially based upon an equal exchange of information so both parties can appropriately prepare for trial.

The second part of discovery is called a Request for Production of Documents. The title largely explains the process. You, or your spouse, will be requested to produce copies of such things as bank and credit card statements, retirement account balances, and other such financial documentation.

Some cases will also involve depositions. A deposition is an out-of-court proceedings where one attorney will ask a party questions which the deponent must answer under oath. 

How Does My Case End?

Once a Petition for Dissolution is filed, the question is where do I go from here? For starters, Indiana law requires that a minimum of 60 days passes from the date the Petition is filed before a Decree of Dissolution may be entered.

Once the case is opened, our goal as your divorce attorney is to reach a resolution as efficiently as possible. Cases generally reach a conclusion in one of three ways:

  • Informal settlement negotiations. Sometimes the spouses will talk with each other and reach an agreement as to all terms. Sometimes the divorce attorneys will talk or write each other and reach an agreement. And sometimes everyone will communicate and come to an agreement. This process is “informal” in the sense that the divorce court is not involved, except to review the terms of the agreement.
  • Mediation. Mediation is a process whereby the parties hire a neutral third party, almost always a divorce attorney experienced in family law, to help negotiate a settlement. The mediation will take place over the course of a day with everyone at the same place, though not usually in the same office. The mediator goes between the rooms proposing terms from each party with the goal of finding a common set of provisions to which each party can agree. If a mediation is successful, the divorce attorneys will assist the parties in drafting a settlement agreement which would be signed before leaving the mediation.
  • Final Hearing. Otherwise known as trial. Sometimes an agreement is just not possible. Every person has an “I just can’t do that” line. Maybe the parenting time just isn’t acceptable. Or perhaps the division of the financial aspects of the marriage is not fair. We understand that. You are not required to reach a settlement agreement. Our divorce court system is available to resolve cases if the parties cannot agree. And we are more than willing to take your case to divorce court if an agreement is not possible. If your case goes to a final hearing, it is imperative that you have the best divorce attorney on your side.

How Long Will My Case Take?

Per Indiana law, a minimum of 60 days. While we are not aware of any statistics on this issue, our experience is that 4-6 months is the average time it takes to resolve a case. There are many factors that influence how long your case will take. Does your spouse not want the divorce? How busy is the divorce court’s schedule? If you need a final hearing to resolve everything, it could be 6 months before the divorce court has an opening. There are a variety of factors which determine how quickly you can be divorced; chief among them is the attentiveness of your divorce attorney to your case. If you give us a call, we can discuss the specifics of your case in more detail.

A potentially critical issue in calculating the marital estate is determining what, if any, assets should be awarded to only one party without disturbing the equal division presumption or by justifying a deviation from that presumption. One circumstance could be whether certain assets were inherited by one spouse. If so, an argument may be made that the inheriting spouse is solely entitled to those assets. It is important that your divorce attorney understand these arguments and how to advocate for the most fair result for you.

Another factor to keep in mind is that a judge will divide the value of assets and liabilities. For example, a house obviously cannot be split down the middle. Let’s presume that the wife wants the house and it is determined that the house has $100,000 equity. Whether in settlement discussions or trial, it would generally be appropriate that the husband be awarded $100,000 in value from another asset, for instance a retirement account. The same would hold true for assignment of liabilities. If you are ordered to pay a $5,000 Visa bill, then it may be proper that you either receive $5,000 in assets to offset that obligation, or that your spouse be ordered to pay $5,000 towards a different liability. These are intended only as broad examples and the division of a marital estate can, and often does, entail many such decisions. It is critical that you and your divorce attorney evaluate the value of each asset that is to be divided so as to insure that you are not treated unfairly.

Please contact us if you have questions concerning how your assets and liabilities may be divided.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss whether you may potentially be entitled to maintenance payments in your divorce case.