Indiana Laws for Separation Before Divorce

By Tom Streissguth

Indiana law provides couples with two options if they want to end or change their marital relationship: dissolution of marriage, which is a divorce, or legal separation. A dissolution of marriage officially ends a marriage, while a legally separation simply allows the couple to live apart for a specified amount of time to decide whether they want to save the marriage or divorce. Before seeking a legal separation, it’s essential to know the rights and responsibilities of each party.

Status and Residency

In Indiana, to obtain a legal separation, one of the parties must file a Petition for a Legal Separation. The petition must include the reasons why the parties cannot live together. The law requires that at least one of the parties be a resident of Indiana for at least six months and the petitioner has been a resident of the county where the petition is filed for at least three months. While separated, the parties remain legally married; each spouse will continue to enjoy the same legal rights as someone who is married but not separated.

Time Period

Legal separation is not a final or permanent status in Indiana. The court can only grant a legal separation for up to one year. After that time, the couple must either file for divorce or return to their marriage. If a couple has already filed for divorce, they may not petition for a legal separation while the divorce is pending.

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Grounds, Custody and Support

Couples who wish to separate in Indiana must petition a family law court for recognition of their separated status. They must provide grounds for the separation and show that living together is not fair or tolerable to the parties. A court may grant the separation as well as temporary orders of child custody and support payments from one spouse to the other. The court may also order counseling with the goal of saving the marriage.

Property and Debts

Indiana law allows a family law court to draw up temporary orders regarding division of property between separated spouses. During the separation, both spouses are still liable for any debts contracted by either spouse, including personal debts contracted by one party without the knowledge of the other. In contrast, divorce agreements finalize the liability of each spouse for debts contracted during the marriage.

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References

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How to File for a Legal Separation in Massachusetts

Massachusetts courts do not issue judgments for legal separation. However, if spouses choose to separate without getting a divorce, a "judgment for separate support" is available for a spouse seeking spousal support and child support. Some spouses do not want to divorce for religious purposes, for tax purposes or for purposes of maintaining medical coverage on a spouse's health insurance plan. If you or your spouse move out of the marital home with the intention of permanently living separately, it's wise to consult an attorney to find out exactly what you may be entitled to after the separation, including alimony, custody and child support.

Marital Status: Difference Between Separated & Divorced

Most states recognize three ways to legally alter a marital relationship -- separation, divorce and annulment. Among these, separation and divorce are the most commonly used. A legal separation involves many of the same legal complexities that divorce does. Divorce and legal separation are also available for domestic partnerships and civil unions in states that recognize these relationships. Always check your state laws for requirements for obtaining a legal separation.

Common Law Divorce & Kansas Custody Rules

When we think of marriage, we often picture a ceremony presided over by a judge or clergyman before family and friends. However, some states still recognize marriages that are not formed in this manner, but rather arise from a couple living together and holding themselves out to the public as married. Such relationships are known as common law marriages, and Kansas is one of the few remaining states that still recognize them. In Kansas, common law spouses are subject to the same divorce and custody rules as traditionally married couples.

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