How to Contest a Divorce Petition in Indiana

By Elizabeth Rayne

In Indiana, couples often disagree on property division, child custody or other terms of the divorce. You have the right to contest your spouse's divorce petition, but state laws make it tricky to challenge the divorce altogether. Many couples in Indiana try to come to their own agreement for the terms of the divorce in order to avoid the time, costs and unpredictable nature of going to court.

In Indiana, couples often disagree on property division, child custody or other terms of the divorce. You have the right to contest your spouse's divorce petition, but state laws make it tricky to challenge the divorce altogether. Many couples in Indiana try to come to their own agreement for the terms of the divorce in order to avoid the time, costs and unpredictable nature of going to court.

Grounds for Divorce

In Indiana, most couples divorce on the grounds that the marriage is irretrievably broken, meaning that neither spouse is to blame for causing the divorce. The only other available grounds for divorce are incurable insanity, impotency or a felony conviction. When the grounds asserted do not place blame on either spouse, it is difficult to challenge the reason for getting divorced. As a result, the grounds for divorce are generally not contested, but rather the disagreement is usually over the terms of the divorce, including property division, support and custody.

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Divorce Process

In Indiana, the divorce process begins with filing a petition in the Domestic Relations Court, a division in the Court of Common Pleas, in the county where either your or your spouse lives. If your spouse filed the petition, she must serve you with a copy of the petition. After receiving the documents, you have 60 days to respond to the contents of the petition or assert any "counterclaims," claims you may have against your spouse that she did not bring up, such as spousal maintenance. If you do not respond within 60 days or show up at any scheduled hearings, the court may dissolve the marriage without your input and give your spouse everything she asked for in the petition.

Provisional Hearing

When the divorce is contested, the court may schedule a provisional hearing to determine temporary arrangements while the divorce is in progress. At the provisional hearing, either spouse may request temporary child support or spousal maintenance, ask the court to temporarily set the child custody arrangement, or provide who has temporary ownership of certain property such as the marital home. Temporary orders only last until the divorce is finalized.

Mediation and Trial

If you and your spouse are unable to agree to a divorce settlement, an Indiana court may require that you attend mediation. During the mediation, a neutral third party will help you and your spouse come to an agreement on unresolved issues. If you cannot come to an agreement, the remaining issues will be decided by the court following a trial. At trial, you must present evidence to demonstrate why you should receive what you are asking for in the divorce, such as spousal maintenance, child support or custody of the children.

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How to Contest a Divorce

References

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What Does Notice Mean in Divorce Proceedings?

Spouses have a right to participate in the divorce process. An important part of exercising this right is being made aware that a divorce has been filed and the nature of any other legal action taken as the case progresses. However, the exact form the notice must take and paperwork involved is governed by state law, which can vary between jurisdictions.

Answering a Citation of Divorce

Being served with a divorce citation, or summons, often results in hurt and anger. However, you need to keep a cool head and decide if and how to answer the petition. This answer is a specific document filed with the court, in which you respond to the statements made in the petition. The amount of time you have to respond varies from state to state, but it is usually no more than 30 days.

Ohio's Steps for a No-Fault Divorce

Ohio offers two ways to end a marriage: dissolution and divorce. Both processes are similar, but dissolution is often faster and cheaper because the spouses file jointly and agree on all terms. The dissolution method requires that both spouses agree their marriage should be terminated and reach mutual agreement on the details of their separation, including child custody and property division. Spouses can file on no-fault grounds whether they choose divorce or dissolution.

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