Making the decision to file for divorce can be a tough one. In order to make it through divorce proceedings with little stress and conflict, it can be helpful to know what you are getting yourself into. Divorce proceedings can be broken down into a series of steps. Of course, every situation is different, but the following steps are what usually occur in a divorce.
- Deciding to File a Petition
The first step in obtaining a divorce is making the decision to divorce. It is often one of the most difficult decisions a spouse can make. It is important that the decision will well thought out and never rushed into. Also, it’s important to know what a divorce entails so that you make the decision with the knowledge of what’s to come. Filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and other required forms are the first steps in notifying both the courts and your spouse that you want to legally seek an end to your marriage. The forms are available online, but it is important to seek the help of an experienced attorney to make sure they are filled out properly.
Since only one person is filing the initial petition to start divorce proceedings, the other spouse needs to be served with the divorce papers. Even if the other spouse knows their soon-to-be ex-spouse is seeking a divorce, they need to be formally served with divorce papers. This can be completed by the sheriff’s office or by a process server.
- Financial Disclosures and Records
One of the biggest most important aspects of any divorce is accurate financial and income records. These will shape what marital property is to be divided and how the parties calculate child support. Indiana is an equitable distribution state. This means that marital property should be distributed equitably between the spouses. Equitably does not necessarily mean that the property will be divided equally; rather, property is to be divided “fairly.” Indiana law does presume that the division of marital property should be 50/50 but there are several different factors the Court will consider in making that determination, such as, if the property was acquired before the marriage and who acquired it.
There will be a preliminary hearing regarding the divorce proceedings and a judge can make a preliminary ruling regarding aspects of the couple’s future (parenting time, financial support, etc.), but before a trial is also the time for the couple to enter into negotiations and try to come up with an agreement both people are comfortable with. Couples can work together and come to their own agreement about how their marriage should end without a judge making the final decisions. If the parties cannot come to an agreement, then a trial will take place and a judge will make the final decisions despite what any one party may request.
- Court Proceedings
The final step in divorce is getting the divorce finalized. Depending on the outcome of your negotiations, your case may end at trial. At trial, the judge will hear evidence and will decide all aspects of your case that has been settled: property distribution, and if you have children, custody, child support and parenting time. After the trial, the judge will issue a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. This decree legally ends the marriage.
The family law attorneys at Beers Mallers Backs & Salin, LLP are here to guide you through your divorce. We know that this is a difficult time and want you to be aware of the proceedings every step of the way. Our attorneys are dedicated to helping you and your spouse come to an agreement to end your marriage, or fight for your rights should an amicable agreement not be possible. Contact us today for a consultation.