Indianapolis Women’s Guide to Divorce

Whether you have already filed for divorce or are considering it, this Indianapolis guide to divorce will provide you with a foundational understanding. Every case is unique, and your divorce attorney can provide guidance based on your specific circumstances. However, there are factors that impact almost every divorce.

We always recommend that women faced with divorce contact an attorney as soon as possible so that they can begin to develop a strategy to benefit their case.

At Woodford Sathappan McGee, our divorce lawyers exclusively represent women. Our narrow focus means that we are deeply attuned to the difficulties women face and have successfully guided hundreds of women to feel confident about their future.

Our attorneys are highly skilled in both mediation and litigation. We have the resources and experience necessary to handle high-asset divorce, high-conflict custody cases, and other complex divorce cases. No one should face divorce alone, and when you secure representation from us, a divorce lawyer will be by your side from start to finish.

Remember that once your divorce decree has been issued, you will face legal obligations that you must adhere to. It is important that decisions are reached that serve your interests and prioritize your children’s needs if you have them.

Arrange a free consultation with an Indianapolis divorce lawyer today at 380-212-3731.

Indiana Family Law Considerations

There are some important family law considerations in almost every divorce, such as how your property will be divided, what your parenting plan will look like, and whether one party is required to pay support.

The outcome of these considerations can have a huge impact on your future. Therefore, it is important to have the guidance of a divorce attorney who has your best interests at heart.

Child Custody

In any divorce that involves children, decisions must be made based on their best interests. In most cases, that equates to formulating a parenting plan that keeps both parents involved in the child’s life, while creating a stable life.

In Indiana, parents are granted legal and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the right to make decisions on behalf of the child, such as decisions that involve education, religion, and medical care.

Physical custody refers to the time each parent spends with the child. Although both parents have a right to time with their child, it is often in everyone’s best interests to create a plan that involves one custodial parent, who the child lives with for the majority of the time, and a non-custodial parent, who is granted visitation rights.

Child custody arrangements can take many forms. For example, parents may share legal custody equally but not physical custody. Although equal physical custody may sound like the fairest option, an arrangement that involves visitation rights is often more stable for the child.

The only reason why one parent would lose their parental rights and, therefore, not be granted custody is if they pose a risk to the child’s wellbeing. Even if this is the case, the court may still award supervised visitation. If you believe that you should have sole custody, then you should contact an Indianapolis divorce lawyer quickly so that they can help you evidence your claims to a Judge.

Child Support

Child support is designed to ensure that both parents are contributing to their child’s upbringing. Usually, that involves the non-custodial parent paying child support to the other, which can be used to pay for needs, including housing, toys, meals, medical care, and education.

Usually, a child support order is in place until a child turns 19. However, if the child has ongoing needs, such as a physical or mental incapacity, then support payments could be indefinite.

Property Division

Dividing property can be one of the most complex tasks involved in a divorce. The first thing your attorney will help you do is separate your property into separate and marital.

Separate property are assets that belong to each individual and will continue to do so once the divorce has been finalized. Separate property includes anything either party owned before they married, as well as gifts, compensation, and inheritance.

On the other hand, anything that either party obtained while they were married is marital property and, therefore, subject to division. That includes bank accounts, real estate, pensions, stocks and bonds, offshore assets, vehicles, investments, debts, and more.

Indiana divorce laws prioritize equitable distribution, which means that property is not always divided equally. Instead, it must be split in a just and fair way. In order to determine what a fair division of marital property looks like, a Judge will consider factors such as:

  • How long the marriage lasted.
  • Who the custodial parent is.
  • The ability of each spouse to earn money.
  • The contribution of each spouse.
  • When dividing debts, the Judge may take into account whether one spouse was solely responsible for the debt.
  • The needs of each spouse.
  • Whether one party gave up a career to take care of children and the home.

At Woodford Sathappan McGee, we take a personalized approach and will take the time to understand what is important to you. If your divorce includes high, complex, or hidden assets, then we can help ensure that you receive what is rightfully yours.

Spousal Support

In the majority of divorce cases in Indianapolis, spousal support payments are not a factor. They are only awarded if they are necessary for a spouse to continue to maintain a standard of life.

When awarding spousal support, the Judge may consider the spouse’s ability to earn money and whether they sacrificed job opportunities to care for children.

Eligibility for Divorce in Indiana

In order to be eligible for divorce in Indiana, at least one spouse must be a resident or stationed at a military base in Indiana for at least six months before filing.

You must also have grounds for divorce. In Indiana, you can either file for a no-fault divorce or an at-fault divorce.

Most couples opt for a no-fault divorce, which means that they agree to the separation on the grounds that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. There is a very little burden of proof for a no-fault divorce which can move things along quicker in the beginning.

However, sometimes it is appropriate for one spouse to file for an at-fault divorce. Justifications for an at-fault divorce include:

  • Incurable insanity that has lasted two years or more.
  • Discovery of impotence that existed at the time of the marriage.
  • Conviction of a felony, after the couple were already married.

Unlike some other states, adultery is not a justification for an at-fault divorce in Indiana.

There can be benefits to filing for an at-fault divorce if you meet the criteria. For example, judges may consider it when dividing assets, awarding spousal support, and determining child custody. However, it can also create more hostility which could draw out the process. It is, therefore, important to weigh the costs carefully with your divorce attorney before making a decision.

The Divorce Process in Indiana

It is often beneficial to reach out to an Indianapolis divorce lawyer before you begin the divorce process. They will help you form a strategy from the beginning, will ensure all the legal paperwork is filled out correctly and will move things along in the most efficient way possible.

Step One: File for Divorce

In order to file for divorce in Indiana, you will first need to submit a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage to your County Clerk.

Filing requirements include:

  • A Petition for Dissolution of Marriage – an original and one copy must be filed, and the original petition must be verified
  • A Domestic Relations Appearance Form
  • A Domestic Relations Summons – an original and one copy must be filed

Once the petition has been filed, there is a minimum 60-day waiting period before the final hearing. However, if there are contested issues, then more time will be required to come to a settlement.

Step Two: Serve The Forms

When you file for divorce, your spouse will need to be made aware and will need to receive copies of the paperwork you have filed. This is called serving your spouse, and it is usually completed via certified mail.

Step Three – Request Provisional Orders

Motions for provisional orders can be filled with the petition for divorce or at any time afterward.

Divorce can take many months to finalize, and while you are waiting for the Judge to rule on key issues, you may need guidance on factors such as who lives in the family home, how debts will be paid, and who cares for the children.

Step Four: Provisional Agreement

At the provisional hearing, both parties can present evidence and testimony to support their requests. The Judge will consider them and will place obligations on divorcing spouses for a set time period (usually until the divorce has been finalized).

Divorcing spouses can also come to their own provisional agreement without a court hearing. If they are able to come to an amicable agreement with the help of their divorce attorneys, it will be submitted to the Judge for approval.

Step Five: The Discovery Process

After one spouse has filed for divorce, the other can file an Answer, which then begins the discovery process. This is a formal process that involves both parties exchanging important information.

The discovery process could involve evidence of assets, written answers to questions, or testimonies under oath (known as depositions).

Step Six: Attend a Preliminary Hearing

Shortly after filing for divorce, you may be asked to attend a preliminary hearing to discuss your divorce terms.

You will need to prepare for this with your attorney by collecting documents regarding your income, expenses, assets, and debts. You will also need to provide some evidence for grounds for divorce.

In this hearing, the Judge will get a clear picture of what you agree on and what you do not. The Judge will expect you to at least try to come to your own agreement, usually with the help of a trained mediator, who can be your attorney.

If you already have an agreement, the Judge will review it, and if they have the documentation they need and believe your agreement is in line with Indiana divorce laws, then they could approve it right away.

Step Seven: Additional Hearings

If you and your spouse cannot agree on everything, then you will require additional hearing dates for each contested issue.

At Woodford Sathappan McGee, our attorneys are experienced trial lawyers. If your case does require multiple court dates, we will be prepared to advocate fiercely on your behalf.

Step Eight: Finalize The Divorce

Once every issue has either been approved by a Judge, then they will approve and sign the divorce decree.

Once your divorce decree has been signed, it will be filed with the court, and you and your ex-spouse will receive copies. At this point, the process is over, and you can finally transition to your new way of life.

How to Find the Best Indianapolis Divorce Lawyer

No women’s guide to divorce would be complete without some advice about finding the right attorney for you. If you have never required legal representation, then it can feel like an overwhelming decision.

Firstly, it is important to find a local law firm that can support you in every negotiation and hearing. Family law is also largely dictated by state law, so a local law office will have a deep understanding of the laws surrounding your case. They may even have worked with the Judge overseeing your case before and can tailor their strategy.

A narrow focus is also a positive sign; if a law firm only practices family law, then the attorneys will be helping people in a similar position to you on a daily basis.

Divorce proceedings can be highly emotional, and it is important that you feel supported throughout. Although the best Indianapolis divorce lawyers may have a full caseload, they should have excellent time management skills and be able to answer your questions promptly. They should also take the time to inform you about the laws surrounding your case so that you can make decisions from a place of clarity.

Another important consideration is whether you feel comfortable speaking with your potential attorney. If a law firm offers a free consultation, you can have an opportunity to decide if you like your potential attorney and feel positive about working with them.

When you arrange a free consultation, it may be helpful to be prepared with some questions, for example:

  • How many years of experience do you have helping people through a divorce in Indiana?
  • Are you a trained mediator?
  • Do you have experience in divorce litigation?
  • How much is my divorce likely to cost?
  • How soon can I expect a response from you if I have questions?
  • Can I see testimonials from previous clients?
  • Do you have experience helping people in a similar position to me? i.e., if your case involves hidden assets or cross-country parenting, then you should look for an attorney with experience in these areas.

Why Choose Woodford Sathappan McGee?

Our law firm is dedicated to helping women through divorce and other family law matters in Indiana and Ohio. We are dedicated to empowering women with knowledge of their rights so that they can make informed choices at every stage.

Our goal is for you to feel confident about your future. To do that, we offer personalized support throughout your divorce.

We are trained mediators and will help you and your ex-spouse come to amicable agreements wherever possible. This can save time and money but also helps protect the relationship between you and your ex-spouse, which is especially important if you have children.

That being said, we are also uniquely prepared to handle complex cases. We are skilled litigators and have experience in divorce cases involving abuse, cross-country parenting, high-conflict custody cases, complex assets, physiological evaluations, and more.

Whatever your case throws at us, we will be by your side from start to finish.

Domestic Violence

As the only law firm in the Indianapolis area to exclusively represent women, we are proud to have created a supportive and safe space.

If you have suffered domestic abuse, then there may be difficulty in taking those first steps. However, we are here to support you and will help you to feel heard and cared for.

We can advise you on how to get to a place of safety. We will also get to work quickly to file for a protection order with the court. A protection order is a temporary order for your spouse to keep away from you and your children. This will give you some space to make some decisions and move forward with your divorce.

Your divorce lawyer will help you gather evidence and will present this evidence to the Judge so that they consider your experiences when making important decisions, such as those involving child custody.

Indianapolis Women’s Guide to Divorce FAQ

How long does it take to finalize a divorce in Indiana?

There is a mandatory waiting period of 60 days after filing for divorce for it to be finalized. However, if there are any contested issues, then the divorce may take over a year.

What does it mean to be a resident of Indiana?

You are a resident of Indiana if you live in the state and you intend it to be your home. Evidence of residency could include paying state taxes, being registered to vote in Indiana, or having a state-issued driver’s license.

Can I be represented by a female divorce attorney?

Woodford Sathappan McGee is proud to be female-led. Although we have experienced divorce attorneys, both male and female, if you have a preference, then we are happy to accommodate.

Do family law courts favor the mother over the father?

No, mothers and fathers are equal under the law. Ultimately, all decisions must be made based on the child’s best interests and not on gender.

What if my spouse doesn’t pay child support?

Missed child support payments never disappear, and your ex-spouse will need to pay what they owe you eventually. A family law attorney at Woodford Sathappan McGee will help you mediate with your ex-spouse to arrange for manageable payments.

If they still refuse, then your attorney will help you file contempt proceedings. The Judge may garnish their wages or threaten a jail sentence if they do not comply.

It is important that you seek legal help, continue to facilitate visitation, and comply with other court orders. Otherwise, you could also be guilty of contempt.

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

In Indiana, couples may choose a legal separation, where they stay legally married while separated. Legal separation allows couples to seek court orders on child custody, support payments, division of marital assets, and any other issues that would typically be decided in a divorce.

There are many reasons why a couple may choose this option. It could be religious reasons, to maintain health insurance, or because they hope to reconcile one day.

However, the decision should be made with great care as it can have financial and legal repercussions. It is important to speak to a family law lawyer who can talk through your options and help you make a decision that fits your needs.

How much does a divorce cost in Indiana?

Divorce involves filing fees, attorney fees, and court costs. These can vary widely depending on the number of contested issues in your case. In your free consultation, you can get an idea of the cost so that you can decide what your next steps should be.

Usually, each spouse is responsible for their own legal fees, and the filing spouse pays the filing fee. However, if there is a significant wage disparity between you and your ex-spouse, they may be ordered to cover some of your costs.

Speak To an Indianapolis Divorce Lawyer Today

To arrange a free consultation with a divorce lawyer who is committed to securing the best possible outcome for your divorce, contact Woodford Sathappan McGee today.

We believe in empowering women with knowledge of their rights and giving them the confidence they need to begin moving forward. Utilizing a firm grasp of the law and dedication to women, we will be your advocates throughout your divorce.

Contact us today at 380-212-3731 to arrange a free consultation.

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