Indiana Divorce & Family Law FAQs for Women: Clarifying Your Questions with Expert Answers

Navigating the intricacies of divorce and family law often presents women with unique stressors and pressures, leaving them feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about what lies ahead. The unique hurdles that women encounter in these situations necessitate the presence of proficient and compassionate legal guidance.

At Woodford Sathappan McGee, our seasoned attorneys are committed to strengthening and standing with women throughout their legal journey in Indiana. Our objective is to guide you through the complexities of divorce and family law cases, protecting your rights and interests at every turn. We appreciate the comfort many women find in being represented by female attorneys, and we cater to this preference. Two of our founding attorneys are women, each specializing in different areas, such as domestic violence and family disputes.

As the leading law firm dedicated to representing women exclusively in Indiana, Woodford Sathappan McGee, we work to ensure that your voice is amplified and your needs are prioritized in the intricate world of divorce and family law.

We welcome you to reach out to us by giving us a call at 380-212-3731.

What are the grounds for divorce in Indiana?

In the state of Indiana, the laws around divorce state that anyone is eligible to file for divorce under fault or no-fault grounds. This means that you do not need to have a reason such as adultery, extreme cruelty, habitual drunkenness, becoming mentally incapacitated, gross neglect of duty, or imprisonment to file for divorce, although you can use these reasons in what is known as an “at-fault divorce”.

If you do state reasons for your divorce, and you can clearly evidence them to the family law judge, you may gain an advantage when it comes to pursuing a larger share of the marital estate or custody of your children.

No-fault divorces are usually pursued under incompatibility issues, which means you and your spouse can no longer come together on important decisions regarding your marriage, have tried hard to reconcile, and no longer love each other.

If you are unsure of the route you should take, discussing your divorce with your attorney should grant you some clarity, as they will advise you on whether or not you will be able to file for an at-fault divorce or not.

How long do I need to be a resident of Indiana to file for divorce?

In the state of Indiana, either you or your spouse must have been a resident in the state for at least six months before filing your petition for divorce. This restriction ensures that the courts that reside over your case have jurisdiction to do so.

What is the difference between a dissolution and a divorce in Indiana?

Dissolution of marriage occurs when both parties are on the same page and mutually agree that they wish to end their marriage. When it comes to the dissolution of marriage, both parties need to agree upon all terms, which includes how the marital estate is going to be divided, who will get child custody if you have children, visitation schedules, and child support payments if you have children and whether or not spousal support, often known as spousal maintenance, will be paid and for how long.

A divorce is a court proceeding that is initiated by a single spouse seeking to end the marriage.

We highly recommend that no matter which route you are planning on taking, you speak to a dedicated divorce attorney about your case and obtain legal representation. Often, spouses who feel they are on the same page end up with conflicting opinions later on down the line, that cost them time and money.

How do I start the divorce process in accordance with Indiana Divorce Laws?

Under the divorce laws in Indiana, one spouse must have lived in Indiana for at least six months and in the specific county where the divorce will be filed for at least three months.

If you meet these criteria, you will need to prepare a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This document provides an overview of your marriage, your current financial circumstances, any children involved, and your specific requests in the divorce. This document is best filed with the representation of an attorney who can assist you in preparing the document correctly.

Next, you must file the petition with the court clerk in your county. This step usually comes with a filing fee. Once filed, your spouse must be formally notified about the divorce. This can be accomplished through various methods, like hiring a process server or a sheriff to deliver the papers.

If you have representation from the team here at Woodford Sathappan McGee, we will handle this on your behalf.

Once your spouse has been served, they typically have 30 days to respond to the petition. If they do not respond during this time, you may be eligible to proceed with a default judgment, which may result in the Judge agreeing upon all of your terms in a final hearing.

How long does a divorce typically take in Indiana?

Everyone’s marriage and circumstances are unique to them, meaning every divorce that occurs in Indiana, will be different and take a different length of time to complete.

A dissolution of marriage, or uncontested divorce, can take as little as a few months if you and your spouse can agree upon the terms of the divorce without any conflict. This is rare, as there is usually at least one issue that requires some negotiations or mediation.

More complex divorces, involving child custody battles and complex asset divisions, can take over a year to complete, and will depend on the number of hearings that the court considers necessary to finalize the divorce.

Can I file for divorce without a lawyer in Indiana?

Everyone in the state of Indiana has the right to file for divorce without legal representation if they can follow the process correctly. This is never recommended, as one spouse will usually have an attorney, and in this situation, you are at a disadvantage if you do not have your own legal representation. If this happens you may find yourself receiving an unfair outcome in your divorce.

The decisions made in your divorce are legally binding once finalized, meaning you will be dealing with the consequences for years to come if you do not receive the outcome you wish.

What is the role of a mediator in Indiana divorce cases?

If negotiation meetings between you and your spouse are unproductive, and you cannot reach agreements without conflict or arguments, your attorney may turn to mediation to help move the process along.

In Indiana divorce cases, a mediator can play a critical role as an impartial third party. Their primary goal is to encourage productive communication between the two parties, helping them reach mutual agreements on issues such as property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support.

Mediation can often help divorcing couples avoid a lengthy and emotionally draining court trial. Third-party mediators do not make decisions or offer solutions but guide the discussion in a structured manner, ensuring both parties have a chance to express their concerns and preferences.

It’s important to note that mediators cannot provide legal advice. For that, parties should consult their individual attorneys.

How is child custody decided in an Indiana divorce?

When going through a divorce as a mother, the issue of child custody and visitation is usually the most emotionally charged. Most of the time, both spouses are great parents, even if they are no longer great partners in terms of marriage. This means that both parties will fight fiercely for custody.

Sometimes this conflict can create a situation that is not conducive to the child’s best interests, and they can be impacted by the discussions.

This is why it is always important to obtain legal representation before entering a custody battle. Finding a law firm like ours that prioritizes your children’s needs above all else will help you keep on track. We promise to remind you what is important and will help you avoid involving your kids in any conflict.

It has been proven through research and studies that children who have access to both their parents after divorce have a better chance of developing healthily. This means working with your spouse is important unless they pose a threat to the safety of your children.

When it comes to child custody, you will need to understand the types of custody that can be awarded in Indiana.

Legal Custody

This is the term that is used in Indiana to describe the right to make all of the important decisions in your children’s lives. Being awarded legal custody grants you the right to decide what religion your child is brought up in, where they attend school for education, and gives you the power to make medical decisions on their behalf.

Legal custody can be awarded to one or both parents. Usually, both parents retain legal custody unless it can be proven that one parent should not retain the right. When both parents share legal custody, it is important that you work together when making decisions, as you both have the legal right.

Physical Custody

In Indiana, physical custody is the term given to the time that each parent takes responsibility for their children.

Sometimes parents will have an equal split when it comes to physical custody, and the child spends equal amounts of time with each parent, but usually, one parent will become the primary custodian. This means the child primarily lives with them and the other, known as the non-custodial parent, could be granted visitation rights.

A 50/50 split of parenting time is rarely in the child’s best interests as it may be too difficult for each parent to establish and may create a situation where the child is displaced from their daily lives too much.

The visitation schedule that is agreed upon in the majority of cases is a schedule where the child primarily lives with one parent and spends one night and alternating weekends with the other parent. Holidays are then split equally.

This is not always the case though and you can come up with your own parenting plan as long as each parent is allowed the minimum hours of visitation.

If one of the two parents has problems with drugs, alcohol, or abuse, they may lose their right to custody, or they may lose their right to visitation without supervision. You will need to work with your attorney to prove your claims and support them with evidence if this is the result you are seeking.

How does the division of property work in an Indiana divorce?

During your marriage, you and your spouse will likely have accrued a large number of assets together. Deciding upon a fair split of your marital estate can become difficult when you divorce as each spouse will have their own idea of what is fair and reasonable.

Our divorce attorneys here at Woodford Sathappan McGee bring a wealth of experience to the table when dealing with property division matters. This includes cases involving high-value assets, privately-owned businesses, concealed or offshore assets, and debts.

In the context of a divorce or legal separation in Indiana, it’s crucial first to categorize what is considered marital property and what is considered separate property when it comes to your marital assets.

Separate Property

Separate property refers to all assets and debts that you or your partner owned before the marriage. These remain in the ownership of the original owner even after the marriage dissolves. Assets or property that were received as gifts or inheritance also fall under this category.

Marital Property

Marital property, on the other hand, encompasses all assets and debts that you or your partner accumulated during the marriage. These are subject to division upon divorce.

Marital property can incorporate a variety of elements, from bank accounts, pensions, offshore accounts, real estate, and vehicles to privately-owned businesses and more. As Indiana follows the equitable distribution principle, marital property is divided in a manner that is fair and just, but not necessarily equal.

The determination of what constitutes a fair division involves consideration of several factors. These can include the duration of the marriage, contributions made by each spouse, the identity of the custodial parent, the needs of each spouse, and their respective earning capacities. At Woodford Sathappan McGee, we strive to ensure that your interests are represented fairly in this complex process.

How do child support obligations work following a divorce in Indiana?

As parents to children in Indiana, you have a legal obligation to meet the financial needs of your children together. Following a divorce, it is often the case that the parent who becomes the primary custodian is the one who has sacrificed a career and education to look after the children.

This means that they will usually require some financial support in order to provide the quality of life their children deserve. This financial support is called child cusp port and is paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to help with the costs of housing, clothing and feeding the children.

For many mothers leaving a marriage, child support is a lifeline that allows them to get back on their feet whilst still ensuring their children’s needs are met.

How do spousal support obligations work following a divorce in Indiana?

Spousal support, which may be referred to as alimony or spousal maintenance is similar to child support, but is paid to a spouse in order for them to support themselves while they retrain, re-educate and get back into the workplace.

Unlike child support, spousal support is not awarded in every case. The only time where spousal support will be awarded is when one spouse has sacrificed their career or their chance at pursuing further education and will struggle to support themselves once the marriage ends.

Also unlike child support, spousal support is usually offered on a temporary basis, designed to last long enough to allow the spouse to get back on their feet before the payments end.

However, in some circumstances, it could be awarded indefinitely, especially if the receiving spouse is unable to work due to age or disability.

What happens if I have been subjected to domestic violence during my marriage?

Here at Woodford Sathappan McGee, our dedication to women means that we are uniquely positioned to help women that have suffered domestic abuse or violence at the hands of their spouse. Our team understands the difficulty, stress and danger that you may feel when deciding to divorce an abusive spouse and we have measures in place to protect you and your family if you do make that decision.

The first step and top priority in this situation is your safety, and when you contact us we will implement measures to ensure your safety. We can begin the process of filing a protection order, which keeps your abusive spouse away from you and your children while you file for divorce. A protection order is even stronger than a restraining order, and can be enforced by law enforcement not just the courts.

Once we have done this you will have the space and the time to begin planning your next moves. We will help you evidence the abuse you have been through so you can use it in your case against your spouse and we can make sure the courts understand what has happened so it is considered during important decisions.

Can I get my divorce decree modified in Indiana?

In a divorce, the agreements you have come to in your divorce decree are made legally binding once the divorce is finalized. Having legally binding court orders changed can be exceptionally difficult, which is why it is so important to seek legal representation for your divorce.

However, it is possible to have your decree modified in certain situations. Indiana family courts understand that certain court orders that worked in the past for you and your family, may no longer be sensible or fair.

If your life has undergone a drastic change in circumstances, such as the development of a serious illness or disability, the loss of a career, or you have remarried and have a new family, you may be able to pursue a modification of your order.

The ease at which you can obtain a modification will depend upon two things, the severity of your change in circumstances, and the willingness of your ex-spouse to co-operate. Obtaining a modification when you and your ex-spouse agree it is fair is relatively easy. If your ex is opposing your decision, it will require a hearing and for you to put forward a compelling case for why you need the modification.

Under Indiana law, the courts will also listen to any case where one ex-spouse is accusing the other ex-spouse of being a danger to their children. You will need to work with your attorney to put forward the most compelling case possible but if you can prove that they are a danger, the courts must listen and will act accordingly.

What do I do if my spouse is refusing to pay their child/spousal support or withholding visitation?

Obtaining your divorce decree can provide a significant sense of relief, as it gives you a concrete plan for your future as well as your children’s. However, if your ex-spouse fails to honor child support payments or disrespects the court’s order in other ways, it can be incredibly frustrating.

It’s important to note that child support obligations do not get erased over time; your ex-spouse will be legally obligated to fulfill the payments they owe eventually. We can assist you in initiating a mediation process with your ex-spouse to negotiate a repayment plan. This approach is the best one, as it protects your relationship, especially if you have kids, and also offers them an opportunity to provide an explanation.

However, if they decide to carry on neglecting their payment responsibilities and will not pay child support or spousal maintenance, our team here at Woodford Sathappan McGee is ready to help. We can file contempt proceedings, and the court may decide to resort to measures such as wage garnishment, asset seizure, or even imposing a jail sentence.

One thing that is extremely important to understand is that visitation and child support/spousal support payments are separate legal issues and court orders. This means that in no situation can you withhold visitation of your children in order to punish your ex-spouse as you are in contempt of court if you do so.

How do I find the best divorce lawyers for women in Indiana?

With your future, and the future of that of your family on the line, finding the right divorce lawyer to handle your case is exceptionally important. There are so many law firms around that promise to be the best that it can be difficult to choose, especially if you have never had the need to hire representation before.

Here are some key things to look for when making your decision:

Find A Local Family Law Firm

We always recommend finding a law firm that practices in your local area as it comes with a number of advantages. These law firms will have working relationships with local courts, and opposing attorneys and this can help smooth the process. It will also mean they have a full understanding of the specific laws that apply in your local jurisdiction.

Mediation and Litigation

Almost all divorces are going to involve some disagreements or conflict at some point and this means that you will have to sit down and negotiate with your spouse. Finding a law firm that has an excellent record of facilitating negotiations is essential if you want to be able to move through the process. 

While these qualities are immensely important, you should also ensure that your attorney has a track record for success when it comes to litigation as there is a good chance that they will have to stand up for you in court if mediation and negotiation does not work.

Personality and Ideals

Divorces can take over a year to complete and during this time you will need to spend a lot of time discussing personal matters with your attorney. This means you should always ensure that you and your attorney have a good rapport. You should make sure their ideals align with yours and that you feel comfortable in their presence.

Most law firms offer a free consultation, so you will have an opportunity to decide how you feel about your potential attorney.

Do Indiana family law courts favor the mother over the father?

While in the past it is true that there was a lot of bias that meant courts favored the mother in certain decisions, such as custody, this is no longer the case. Under Indiana family law, all courts and all family law Judges must make decisions that are in the best interests of the children, regardless of the parents gender.

When making decisions on child custody arrangements and child support, Judges will examine each parent. They will look at a range of factors with both parents entering this examination with equal rights.

This is why it is so important that you secure legal representation that can put forward the strongest possible case on your behalf.

When do child support payments stop in Indiana?

Child support in the state of Indiana usually ends when a child turns 19. If the child has ongoing needs, such as a mental or physical disability, then it may need to be paid indefinitely, however.

How much will my divorce cost me?

The cost you will have to pay for your case will depend upon a huge variety of different factors. The length of time, the complexity and the level of conflict will all influence the overall cost. The more hearings you need from the court and the more court involvement necessary the higher the cost of the divorce.

Can I be represented by a female family law attorney?

At Woodford Sathappan McGee, we were founded by three women, and many of the members on our team are women too. We understand that many women wish to deal with and be represented by women, and we are more than happy to facilitate this request.

What is the difference between legal separation and divorce in Indiana?

In Indiana, the law acknowledges the option of legal separation. This arrangement permits a couple to remain legally married but live separately while seeking court orders concerning typical divorce decree issues like child custody and asset distribution.

Couples might opt for legal separation due to various reasons. These can range from religious beliefs, the hope of future reconciliation, the need to retain health insurance benefits, or an array of other considerations.

Contact Woodford Sathappan McGee Today for Expert Guidance and Support!

At Woodford Sathappan McGeee, we have garnered a reputation that we are proud of. Through our years of service to the state and through our unique dedication to representing women we have created a team that fully understands what women go through when it comes to family law.

Each member of our team has a unique skill set, allowing us to assign you an attorney that is best suited to your case and your needs.

Because every attorney on our team has exceptional negotiation skills we can help you avoid court involvement wherever possible and we can help you work through your agreements, even with the most difficult spouses.

However, if your case requires litigation, we are more than prepared for it. Our attorneys are fierce litigators and have a long history of success under their belts.

Regardless of the complexity of your family law issue or the degree of stress and anxiety you might be experiencing, our firm is here to provide compassionate, trustworthy legal advice throughout your divorce or other family law proceedings.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us today at 380-212-3731 to arrange a complimentary consultation with one of our Indiana family law attorneys.

Child support can be used to pay for anything that contributes to the child’s upbringing, including shelter, toys, food, and clothes. Child support can also contribute to educational costs, such as private schools. However, optional activities such as school trips or summer camps are not included in this, and parents are expected to agree on how these will be paid for.

Child support is commonly established during divorce proceedings. However, if the parents of a child were never married, then it can be enforced as a stand-alone order.

The cost of a family law attorney will depend on the complexity of your case. When you contact our law firm for a free consultation, we will break down our fee structure so you can make an informed decision about your next steps.

If you are pregnant, but you and the child’s father are not together, it is important to know that the father must pay at least 50% of all pregnancy-related costs, including prenatal care, delivery, and postnatal care.

No. Parenting time and child support must be treated separately. If you refuse visitation, you could also be found in contempt of court. We understand how difficult it can be if you are missing child support payments, but the best thing you can do is contact an experienced attorney for help.

Speak to a Child Support Lawyer Dedicated to Women in Indiana Today!

At Woodford Sathappan McGee, we are proud to provide unparalleled support to women navigating family law issues. We believe that our commitment to women and their children allows us to meet their needs so that they can move forward with confidence and security.

We believe that every case should start by empowering women with knowledge of their rights. We will keep you informed and engaged at every stage so that you can make informed decisions that will impact your future.

Utilizing negotiation and litigation, we have the skills, resources, and knowledge necessary to guide you, no matter the complexity of your case.

If you are facing child support issues or any other family law matters, then do not hesitate to arrange a free consultation today.

We are here to help. Call an Indiana child support attorney now at 380-212-3731.