What happens in the state of Indiana when you are served with divorce papers? What steps should you take first? What are your legal rights and options? Where can you turn for help? Can a Lake County divorce lawyer help?
WHAT COMES FIRST WHEN YOU ARE SERVED DIVORCE PAPERS?
The first thing that you must do when you receive divorce papers is to maintain your emotional composure. Divorce is always stressful, but catch your breath and talk with your trusted friends. Sending out angry texts or emails will not help you.
A Petition for Dissolution is simply the start of the Indiana divorce process. It does not mean that a divorce has to be acrimonious or that you and your spouse can’t find common ground and avoid a contentious courtroom trial.
Do not let the language in a divorce petition upset you. It is standard legal language that will have virtually no bearing on the actual final outcome of your divorce.
SHOULD YOU RESPOND TO A PETITION FOR DISSOLUTION?
Unlike most other states, Indiana does not require you to answer a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, but you will need to file a counter-petition if you are requesting spousal maintenance, child custody, child support, or legal fees.
The state of Indiana has established a sixty-day wait period after divorce papers are filed before a divorce may be finalized, but if there are any disputes over the division of property and assets, spousal maintenance, or child custody or support, a divorce will take longer.
Whether or not you file a counter-petition, you will need an attorney’s help as soon as you are served divorce papers. Don’t even think about going through a divorce without a good lawyer’s help. You could lose assets, alimony, or even the custody of your child or children.
HOW WILL A GOOD DIVORCE LAWYER HELP YOU?
You’ll need a lawyer with substantial family law experience, someone who gives you confidence and puts you (as far as possible) at ease. You will need a qualified Lake County divorce attorney who will make certain that you are treated fairly at every stage of the divorce process.
If you believe that you cannot afford a good attorney, speak with one anyway. In some cases, a court can order your ex to pay your legal fees as part of your divorce settlement. A court will consider these factors to decide if your legal fees should be paid by the spouse you’re divorcing:
1. each partner’s income and assets
2. the employment and employability of the partners
3. the general economic standing of each partner
SHOULD YOU BE CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS?
After you are handed divorce papers, do not post anything about your divorce on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else on the internet. Anything that you post online – comments, photos, or videos – could be used against you in a divorce proceeding.
You need to know that nothing that you post to Twitter or Facebook is ever really, absolutely private. In an Indiana divorce, your spouse’s lawyer might be able to obtain even your deleted posts and “tweets” – and to use them against you.
If you are seeking custody of your child or children, online photos that show you drinking or partying will not help you. In fact, many Indiana divorce lawyers suggest that divorcing spouses should entirely refrain from using social media once the Petition for Dissolution is in your hands.
Social media, of course, can work both ways in a divorce. The person you are divorcing may have left evidence on Facebook or Twitter that your own attorney may be able to use to your advantage.
WHAT IF YOU MUST CONTACT YOUR SPOUSE WHILE A DIVORCE IS PENDING?
If you must contact your spouse for any reason while your divorce is pending, you must see to it that any emails, texts, or voicemails are “civil” and to the point.
After you are served divorce papers, it is wise to presume that anything you record or put in writing will be seen or heard by your spouse’s attorney and by a judge – and used against you.
If, for any reason, you must meet with your spouse face-to-face after you have received divorce papers, take a trustworthy witness with you. Keeping your relationship civil can help you reach agreements more quickly during the divorce process, and that saves both of you time and money.
WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS?
If you are a parent who is divorcing, it is important to keep the kids out of it as far as possible.
Everyone knows that divorce is extremely difficult for children, so you must not allow yourself to use them as pawns, and you must not talk negatively about the other parent in front of them. If the court finds that you are disparaging the other parent, it will not help you in a custody dispute.
Indiana divorce court judges want to see that divorcing parents are cooperating and putting the children’s needs first. Overlooking your children and their needs is a mistake that you must avoid after you have been served with divorce papers.
WHAT ARE THE RULES FOR FILING DIVORCE PAPERS?
To file for a divorce in Indiana, one spouse must be a resident of the state (or assigned to a military installation here) for six months (and a resident of the county where the petition is filed for three months) immediately preceding the filing of the Petition for Dissolution.
A Petition for Dissolution must be filed in the Domestic Relations Court in the Indiana county where the party is a resident. Let your divorce attorney help. A woman who wants to restore her maiden name must express that desire in her petition or counter-petition.
If you will need to receive spousal maintenance (alimony) payments or child support payments, you must specifically request it from the court. A skilled divorce law firm will fight aggressively for the spousal maintenance or child support payments you may need.
If you are getting a divorce in Indiana, you must have the insights, guidance, and services of an experienced Indiana divorce lawyer. That is your right, and your future could depend on it.