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Does it matter who files for divorce first in Indiana?

Deciding to File for Divorce in Central Indiana: Navigating the Emotional and Legal LabyrinthDeciding to File for Divorce in Central Indiana: Navigating the Emotional and Legal Labyrinth

Whether you are in downtown Indianapolis, living in the suburb of Fishers, or anywhere else in Central Indiana, you have choices on how to file for your divorce in Indiana. Divorce is a complex and emotionally charged process, and understanding the legal intricacies in Indiana can make a significant difference. Whether you're facing an amicable separation or a contentious split, it's crucial to be informed about the two roads your case may take you: Contested vs. Uncontested (or Agreed).

Uncontested or Agreed Divorce: A Path of Less Resistance

The Ideal Scenario: Uncontested Divorce

Agreed, or uncontested, divorce represents the most straightforward path. This route is viable when both parties are in harmony about every aspect of the separation. The checklist includes joint assets, bank accounts, marital property, and issues related to children such as custody, visitation, and child support. It is a rare scenario where a couple agrees on everything.

The Reality Check: When Agreement Seems Like a Distant Dream

On the flip side, if discussing divorce with your spouse feels like stepping onto a battlefield, brace yourself for a contested divorce. This can even apply if you’ve been estranged for years and recognize the need for a legal closure. Are you prepared for this potential conflict?

Filing First in Indiana: Strategic Move or a Double-Edged Sword?

Pro - Convenience of Location

Filing first does offer some conveniences. In fact, in Indiana, you can even choose which county the case will be filed if the parties agree to not use the county of preferred venue. This can be a significant advantage, especially if your spouse lives out of state. This geographical leverage can sometimes make all the difference.

Con - The Cost of Taking the Lead

However, initiating the process means you'll pay the initial court filing fees, which in Indiana, ranges from $150 to $250 depending upon the county. Every penny counts in a divorce, especially if it turns into a financial tug-of-war. Are you financially prepared for these initial costs?

Pro - The Element of Surprise

Filing first can also provide a strategic advantage, for example securing the date of valuation of your assets or managing the availability of childcare. Sometimes it is best to be one step ahead. Sometimes there are good reasons to delay filing for a divorce but those reasons are very fact specific and only after a thoughtful and thorough attorney-consultation can you really evaluate a delay in filing.

The judge rules:

In the state of Indiana, it is valuable to remember that Indiana is a "No Fault" state. Meaning, hypothetically, one party may file first to end an abusive relationship, or one may file so their extra-marital affair is not considered cheating anymore. But the courts in Indiana generally do not take into affect why you want a divorce.

Indiana's Waiting Game: The 60-Day Reflection Period

Indiana law mandates a sixty (60) day waiting period from filing to the issuance of the divorce decree. This interval is designed to offer each spouse the potential for reconciliation. It is important to know that this is mandatory and there is not way to circumvent the waiting period.

Choosing to divorce is a life-altering decision, fraught with emotional and financial complexities. In Indiana, the path you take - be it agreed or contested - has significant implications. Understanding these nuances and preparing for the journey ahead is crucial in navigating the legal labyrinth of divorce in Indiana. The first step navigating the journey is with a real, confidential consultation where we can evaluate and review your case from beginning to end. Are you ready for the next step?

If you would like to speak with a practiced family law and divorce law attorney, you can contact our office to schedule a consultation! You can reach out to us online by submitting a Contact Form or by directly calling our office at (317) 743-7958.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for educational and informational purposes only and is not to be taken as legal advice in any capacity. Reading this blog does not constitute or establish an attorney-client relationship.
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