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How to File for Divorce in Fort Wayne, Indiana

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How to File for Divorce in Fort Wayne, Indiana

Before diving into the specifics of filing for divorce in Fort Wayne, Indiana, it’s important to understand some key aspects of divorce law in the state of Indiana.

Indiana is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that you do not need to prove fault or wrongdoing by your spouse in order to obtain a divorce. The only requirement is that one party states that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” or there has been a breakdown of the marriage.

Indiana has a mandatory 90-day waiting period between the time you initially file for divorce and when the final decree can be granted. During this time, you and your spouse will be given the opportunity to reconcile if desired.

However, if after 90 days both parties still wish to proceed with the divorce, the court can finalize the divorce at a hearing.

In addition to the basic divorce grounds of the marriage being irretrievably broken, Indiana law also allows for divorces to be granted on the grounds of impotency, felony conviction, abandonment, and in some cases addiction or mental illness.

Divorces can also be granted based on a legal separation of at least 2 years, if one spouse has committed adultery, or if one spouse has been diagnosed as incurably mentally ill.

When filing for divorce in Indiana, the petitioner (person filing) must establish residency in the county where the petition is filed. This means having lived in that county for at least 6 months immediately preceding the filing date.

The court that grants the divorce will determine child custody, parenting time/visitation, child support, spousal maintenance, and division of property and debt.

Let’s dive deeper into the specific steps for filing for divorce in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

How to File for Divorce in Fort Wayne, Indiana

If you meet the residency requirement and wish to file for divorce in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which is located in Allen County, here are the basic steps:

1. Gather Documentation

You will need to gather documentation like marriage license, birth certificates for any children, tax returns, property/asset information, financial statements, proof of address/residency, and possibly other materials related to child custody/support or property/debt division. Having documentation organized will make the filing process smoother.

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2. File Divorce Petition

Visit the Allen County Courthouse located in downtown Fort Wayne at 1 E Main St. to pick up the necessary divorce petition forms. Fill out the petition completely including sections on custody, parenting time, child support, property, debt, and basic case information. Pay the required filing fees which are currently $236.

3. Serve Notice

Once your petition is filed, you must serve your spouse official notice of the filing. This is usually done by a process server. You can request service of notice forms from the court when filing your petition. Your spouse must be properly served as required by law, usually by certified mail or in-person delivery by the process server.

4. Mediation or Settlement Conference

In many cases, the court will require you to participate in at least one mediation or settlement conference to discuss resolving custody, support, property/debt issues before a hearing. Try to resolve as many issues as possible through this process if you can come to an agreement.

5. Final Hearing

If all issues cannot be settled through mediation or agreement, request a final divorce hearing before the judge. At the hearing, present evidence and testimony to finalize unresolved matters like the exact terms of the divorce decree. The judge will then issue a final divorce decree officially ending the marriage.

6. Process Divorce Decree

Once the judge issues a final decree, process the decree through the court clerk’s office. Request certified copies of the decree for your records and to prove your divorced status, necessary for changing names, benefits, insurance, and other legal matters. Congratulations, you are now divorced!

Let’s dive deeper into some of these core steps in the Fort Wayne divorce process.

Filling Out the Divorce Petition

The divorce petition is the initial document filed with the court to begin the formal divorce case. It is critically important to fill it out completely and accurately. The standard Allen County divorce petition form requests information like:

  • Petitioner and Respondent names, addresses, dates of birth
  • Date and place of marriage
  • Names and dates of birth of any minor/dependent children of the marriage
  • Property owned individually or jointly, including real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement funds, etc.
  • Debts accumulated individually or jointly during the marriage
  • Request for temporary or permanent custody, child support, parenting time for any minor children
  • Request for maintenance/alimony if applicable
  • Statement that the marriage is irretrievably broken
  • Signature and verification under oath
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Be sure to disclose all relevant information to the best of your knowledge. Review the completed petition thoroughly before filing to ensure accuracy.

Incomplete petitions can delay the process. Consider using a divorce lawyer experienced in Allen County for complex divorces involving extensive assets/debts or child custody issues.

Resolving Issues Through Mediation

As mentioned earlier, Allen County Local Court Rule 18-TR-DR-23 requires parties to participate in at least one mediation session in most divorce cases before a final hearing can be scheduled.

Mediation is an opportunity for both spouses to calmly discuss issues, share perspectives, and hopefully come to an agreement on as many matters as possible. A neutral mediator will facilitate the discussion.

Issues commonly mediated include:

  • Child custody schedules and decision-making arrangements
  • Specific parenting time/visitation schedules and procedures
  • Calculation of child support amounts per Indiana guidelines
  • Division and distribution of property like the marital home, vehicles, bank accounts, investments, retirement funds, etc.
  • Allocation of marital debts and responsibility for repayment
  • Potential spousal maintenance amounts and duration of payments

While an agreement is not guaranteed, mediation gives both parties a voice and chance to find win-win solutions whenever possible. Seeking compromise shows good faith to the court as well.

Mediation costs are typically a few hundred dollars split between the spouses. Consider mediation an important investment in your family’s future and reduced conflict.

Preparing for the Final Divorce Hearing

If mediation does not fully resolve all issues, hold a final divorce hearing presenting any unsettled matters to the judge for a final decree. Proper preparation is key:

  • Review your complete petition and case file for accuracy
  • Gather documentation supporting your claims like property values, debt statements, childcare receipts
  • Arrange for witnesses if needed, like an appraiser, employer, doctor (notify other party of witnesses)
  • Consider consulting an attorney to represent you at the hearing if against self-representation
  • Dress professionally and conduct yourself politely and respectfully before the judge
  • Present clear evidence and arguments logically through direct testimony and cross-examination
  • Be prepared for the other party to do the same as they argue their own desired terms
  • Take time to think before speaking and avoid unnecessary hostility or complaints
  • Request final orders from the judge that resolve all issues for the official decree
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Having your case organized, evidence prepared, story clear, and temper composed under pressure can go a long way in obtaining a fair outcome from the judge’s final ruling. Consider mediation success the more issues resolved beforehand.

After the Final Divorce Decree

Congratulations on reaching the final decree stage! Be sure to properly process the judge’s orders through the clerk’s office to obtain certified copies of the signed decree on certified paper. These are needed for important tasks like:

  • Changing your name back if applicable through the Social Security Administration
  • Updating titles, insurance policies, beneficiary designations post-divorce
  • Proving marital dissolution for taxes, benefits like health insurance, pensions, etc.
  • Enforcing child support, alimony, or parenting time arrangements if not followed
  • Obtaining remarriage license down the road
  • Providing closure and legal certainty for moving forward after divorce

Take time to process your emotions and make needed adjustments post-divorce for you and any children involved.

Consider counseling if struggling. Always put children’s well-being first through open communication and cooperation with your former spouse going forward. With preparation and understanding of the process, you can successfully navigate divorce in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

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