If you’re contemplating filing for divorce, you may be wondering,
“What happens next?” Taking that first step can be scary, can leave you feeling sad, can sometimes
even offer forms of relief, but often it just leaves a sense of anxiety
because of the unknown. If you take out all the different complexities
that can convolute each individual divorce, the legal process itself can
be broken down into straightforward steps.
Indiana law requires a 60-day cooling-off period. Once divorce paperwork has been filed, a court cannot legally dissolve
a marriage until after 60 days have passed. This 60-day waiting period
gives couples an opportunity to reconcile before any final court orders
are entered, but in the event reconciliation is not possible, this time
should be used to determine what will happen with the marital estate and
any children of the marriage.
Preliminary orders may be necessary. Preliminary orders, often also referred to as “provisional”
orders, are one of the first steps to consider after filing for divorce.
You can get provisional orders two ways: by agreement or via a hearing
with the court. The benefit of these preliminary orders is that they lay
out the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of each party during
the 60-day waiting period. Who will pay the mortgage? Who will live where?
Will I get any maintenance? How about child support?
Depending on your own personal family situation, you may or may not need
provisional orders. Regardless of the method used, the terms will be binding
on both parties until further order of the court or until a final settlement
agreement has been entered in the case.
Discovery is an important tool and shouldn’t be ignored! You’ll hear the term “discovery” throughout your divorce
proceedings. Discovery, simply put, is a way for each party to lay all
their assets and liabilities on the table; it provides a means to an end.
Why is this important? Because Indiana law presumes a 50/50 split of all
marital assets and debts.
You can expect to have to fill out forms regarding information such as
your weekly income, monthly expenses, any liabilities you owe, as well
as any assets you own, including but not limited to bank accounts, retirement
accounts, and even life insurance accounts. You may hear the term Interrogatories
or receive Requests for Production of Documents, which are the most common
forms of discovery used in a divorce. Although they can be time consuming,
these types of discovery requests are an important step in the process
because they’re used to gather necessary information to settle a
divorce. Discovery is typically crafted entirely around the specifics
of your family situation so, if you have children expect to see some questions
and requests that specifically pertain to those children. If you’re
a business owner, you can expect to see the same type of requests surrounding
Mediation is a great way to customize an agreement specifically to the
needs of your family. After preliminary orders, if any, have been issued and after discovery
is complete, the next thing to consider is whether mediation is a viable
option. In fact, many courts require parties to at least attempt to settle
the divorce at mediation before a final hearing in the matter. Mediation
allows the involved parties to negotiate settlement terms without the
necessity of attending court.
A final hearing is the last step in the process of divorce. When it’s not possible to come to terms on your own, through the
attorneys, or via mediation, you can expect you’ll be heading to
court. A judge will hear the case and then issue orders regarding property
settlement and custody, parenting time, and child support orders. Keep
in mind that this step in the process doesn’t afford couples the
same flexibility as mediation.
Hollingsworth & Zivitz, P.C., our team has the experience, the understanding, and the compassion to
assist with your family law needs. If you have questions or concerns regarding
divorce, custody, mediation, collaborative law or any other family law
concerns, please contact our firm at
317.DIVORCE or visit our website at