No Fault Divorce in Indiana: How Does It Work and Do I Need a Lawyer to Represent Me?

Unlike fifty years ago, divorce is much more common today than it has ever been.  From both a cultural and social point of view, divorce is not only easier to obtain but is viewed with less stigma than it used to be in the days when it was rare to meet someone who had been divorced and this was something that a person would be ashamed of or even try to hide.  The law has changed to reflect this new reality in order to make divorce easier from both a procedural, financial and emotional perspective for a couple that no longer wants to stay married. This is particularly true in Indiana, which has a higher divorce rate according to U.S. Census Bureau data at 12.5% as compared with a national rate across the United States of 10.9%.  This means that 12.5% of adults aged 15 or older across the Hoosier State are divorced as compared with 10.9% of adults across the United States as a whole.  

There is now no-fault divorce as the rule in the majority of states in the United States, including in Indiana, instead of at-fault divorces where parties are required to prove that good cause exists for the divorce.  This old system required proving, for instance, that one spouse was or had been unfaithful to the other or had secretly drained joint bank accounts to finance a gambling addiction or some other similar sordid tale. Divorce used to be an expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally draining affair for couples that simply no longer wanted to be married to one another without having to explain why their relationship no longer worked in intimate detail to a strange judge who would then divide up the couple’s assets in an often arbitrary and punitive manner.  However, even though the process is now much less charged and adversarial than it used to be, it is nevertheless still important to have an experienced Indiana family law attorney in your corner to assist you through the divorce process in order to make sure that your interests are adequately protected. Given that divorce is a time when ownership of many joint assets that may have been accumulated over decades through the joint efforts of both spouses are divided up and responsibility for joint obligations like mortgages or student loans taken out in connection with paying a child’s college tuition are assigned, having an experienced family law attorney on your side will not only assist in making sure the process goes as smoothly as possible but will also ensure that you emerge from a tumultuous time in as good a position as can be expected.   David Frangos of Frangos Legal is an experienced Indiana family law attorney who has worked with clients in both the most difficult of divorces as well as more amicable proceedings to ensure their interests are protected every step along the way.  

What Are the Steps to a No-Fault Divorce in Indiana?

Obtaining a no-fault divorce in Indiana does not require proving that either spouse did something wrong, it instead merely requires that one of the spouses petition the court to advise the court that there has been an “irretrievable breakdown” of a marriage.  Once one spouse has filed a petition for a divorce, the court will hold a preliminary hearing on the petition, at which time the judge presiding over the divorce proceeding can and will issue temporary orders on issues like the disposition of property, visitation, child custody, and other related issues in order to get the ball rolling on the process of dissolving the couple’s marriage.  The parties must wait a minimum period of 60 days before a no-fault divorce becomes final. It can often take longer than 60 days to finalize even a no-fault divorce if there are issues remaining which need to be worked out by the parties (or their attorneys) on their own or that instead require judicial intervention in order to resolve. However, the parties are free to resolve all of the issues through a written agreement, which the court will then review and approve and finalize to end the divorce proceeding if the agreement adequately addresses all outstanding issues.

The court typically will divide a couple’s assets and debts on a 50-50 basis, but can divert from this general rule of thumb is there is good reason to do so, such as if one spouse incurred the debts on his or her own and did not have a good reason for doing so (such as a gambling debt or the like).  The parties to a no-fault divorce are permitted to come up with their own solutions to any issue, in particular, child custody, without court intervention, but the court will become involved if and when necessary. For example, if the soon to be ex-spouses cannot agree on a child custody and parenting plan, then the court will formulate a plan based on the best interests of the particular child.  In doing so, the court will look at factors such as the child’s wishes (if he or she is at least 14), the parents’ wishes, the age and sex of the child, etc.

Do I Still Need an Attorney To Represent Me in a No-Fault Divorce in Indiana?

The short answer is yes.  Simply because marriage is ending in a no-fault divorce proceeding does not mean that there are not still issues being contested or that will be contested between the spouses in the course of the divorce proceeding.  This is particularly true if there are significant assets owned by the couple which needs to be divided if only one spouse works, or there are children for whom custody and visitation arrangements will need to be finalized.  Having an experienced attorney on your side adds value to a divorce proceeding by ensuring that his or her client’s interests are protected in an arena in which a person can easily end up being taken advantage of or steamrolled by a more assertive spouse, particularly if that spouse has an aggressive attorney.

Divorces are incredibly emotionally charged proceedings in even the most ideal of circumstances and can have devastating financial consequences for the parties if not handled properly.  According to an April 2016 article from the Atlantic, women, in particular, see their income drop by 20% in the years after a divorce and the poverty rate for women in particular post-divorce tends to spike.  Therefore, even the most amicable break-up of a relationship is likely to become fraught with tension or break out in a fight when the issue of money, division of property and child custody and visitation arrangements come up.  In addition, issues also can arise during the pendency of the divorce proceeding itself even if the couple is cheerfully parting ways, such as if one spouse attempts to make unauthorized changes in the ownership of joint assets or use joint funds or savings in a way the other partner does not approve of.   In addition, the use of an attorney can also help to smooth the way in the negotiation and finalization of a written agreement that will end the proceedings if the parties agree to the material terms and wish to end their marriage through a written agreement rather than by orders entered by an unfamiliar judge.  

Contact Experienced Indiana Divorce and Family Attorney David Frangos Today if You Are In A Marriage that is Ending And You Need to Protect Your Interests

If you are having doubts about whether your marriage is going to last and are worried about the consequences of divorce and what could potentially be the outcome of divorce proceedings that you or your spouse have either talked about or are thinking about initiating, then you need to talk an experienced Indiana family lawyer as soon as possible. David Frangos of Frangos Legal is experienced in resolving some of the most challenging difficulties associated with divorce in Indiana, even if you are involved in a no-fault divorce, including child custody, the splitting of joint assets and other matters that routinely come up between even couples who are splitting up using the less adversarial process associated with a no-fault divorce.  A divorce is when someone is typically at his or her worst and David does his best as an experienced Indiana family lawyer to ensure that he is compassionate and empathetic throughout the process while also taking his professional and ethical responsibilities to zealously advocate for his clients seriously. If you are in need of an experienced Indiana divorce and family attorney, then contact David Frangos of Frangos Legal today for a Free Consultation and Case Review by emailing us, by telephone at 317-245-3707, or by booking online.