Divorce is a legal proceeding within the court to formally dissolve a marriage between a couple. Divorce terminates a marital union, allowing the two people to pursue a new life personally and legally.
A divorce can be granted only by a court, upon the filing of a petition for divorce by one of the parties to the marriage. An Indiana court can grant a divorce only if at least one party has been an Indiana resident for six months immediately before the petition is filed. The petition must be filed in the county where one party was a resident for three months immediately before the petition was filed.
Indiana statute identifies four grounds for obtaining a divorce. Of those, the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is the most commonly-cited. To justify a dissolution on the ground of irretrievable breakdown, the court must be satisfied that the parties can no longer live together because of difficulties so substantial that no reasonable efforts could reconcile them. It is up to the court to decide whether the divorce should be granted, based upon evidence presented at a hearing.
One critical issue to be resolved in divorce proceedings is the division of marital assets between the parties. It is important that all assets of the marriage be identified and accurately valued as part of the proceedings. In cases where one spouse owns his or her own business, it can be challenging to assign a fair value to that business. Our attorneys are experienced obtaining information and documents necessary to identify all assets of the marriage, and in presenting business valuation expert witnesses in divorce proceedings to assist in protecting our clients’ interests.
Another important question is the payment of costs associated with the divorce proceeding. The court may award costs—including attorney’s fees—to either party in an action for divorce or the dissolution of marriage, but is not required to do so. In determining a reasonable attorney's fee award, the factors the court may consider include: the resources of the parties and their relative earning abilities, the complexity of the case and the difficulty of the issues involved, and any misconduct by one of the parties resulting in the other party incurring additional fees. However, the trial court is not required to give a reason for its decision to award attorney's fees.
A court may also order one party to pay maintenance to the other party, either in a decree of legal separation or in the final dissolution decree, if one spouse is incapacitated and incapable of supporting himself, or if a spouse is the custodian of a child whose physical or mental incapacity requires the custodian to forgo employment, and the spouse is otherwise unable to support herself. In addition, if one spouse needs additional education and training to find appropriate employment following the divorce, a court may also order rehabilitative maintenance, for a period not to exceed three years.
If have questions about Indiana’s divorce laws, feel free to contact one of our attorneys below.