Divorce can be a stressful, time consuming, and expensive life event. It can also be unpredictable. For those about to go through divorce proceedings in Indiana, it is helpful to understand what will happen.
There are many events that occur both in and outside actual court proceedings, but this article focuses on what to expect in Indiana divorce court.
Before court proceedings begin, documents must be filed with the court, and your spouse will be served with an official copy of those documents. The documents your spouse receives depends on how your attorney has decided to proceed.
If your attorney asked for a provisional hearing, your spouse should receive an Order to Appear, an official copy of the Appearance, the Petition, and the Summons. These documents are either delivered by certified mail or by a professional process server.
This is a court appearance where the judge will issue provisional orders. These are temporary orders related to issues that need to be handled first or right away. These orders are often related to time sensitive family and/or monetary matters, including spousal maintenance or support, child custody, and issues surrounding the marital residence.
Note that a provisional hearing is only scheduled if you or your attorney request one. Any orders made at the provisional hearing will remain in place until the divorce is finalized. These decisions, however, can be canceled (vacated) if you and your spouse come to an agreement outside of the court. This agreement can be submitted in writing to the court, along with a request that the provisional orders be vacated.
These do not always happen in court, and often take place between the attorneys involved in the matter. They are also the part of the process that takes the longest, and can vary based on financial, family, and other circumstances. Either spouse may also cause the negotiations to take longer, depending on their willingness (or lack of willingness) to compromise.
Common items negotiated include time with children, allocation of assets, child support responsibility, alimony responsibility, and any review of pre-marriage contracts such as pre-nuptial agreements.
Often, things are hashed out in negotiations or mediation. However, in some circumstances, things play out in a final hearing. These are often combative, and do not end well for the person with the bad lawyer. Preparation is key, and the decision of the judge in these matters is final and binding. In other words, you should go to court with a top Indiana divorce attorney, if possible.
If at all feasible, you should try to work things out in negotiations or mediation with your spouse, and not let the courts decide what’s best for you, your children, and your assets. If you wind up in this type of situation in court, chances are you will not like the outcome as much as if you and your spouse had just agreed on a common dissolution plan.
Divorce can be extremely messy. There is often a great deal of emotion tied up in the process, which makes rational decision-making very difficult. Your best bet is to be prepared and make sure you use an experienced attorney who has your best interest at heart. It’s also important to be realistic. Working amicably with your spouse can produce the best outcome for everyone involved.