The Basics of Filing for Divorce

The decision to file for divorce is never easy to make. The Indianapolis divorce attorneys at Cairns Law have the experience and compassion to help you navigate through the complex process so whether you’re seeking guidance in filing for divorce in a traditional marriage or a same-sex marriage we’re here to help.


When you decide to file a divorce in Indiana, the first step is a petition for dissolution. A petition can only be filed if one of the spouses has resided in Indiana for at least six months. The petition generally includes a few basic issues such as the number of children of the marriage, the date of the marriage, and the requested relief. The petition is filed in the county where the parties reside (or at least one party has resided for at least three months), and is accompanied by a filing fee that ranges from $120 to $180 for most counties in central Indiana.

Preliminary Issues

After the petition for dissolution is filed, if necessary, the parties can request a preliminary hearing where the court can determine issues including temporary child custody and child support, temporary maintenance, possession of the marital residence, and payment of debts and liabilities. The parties may also negotiate a preliminary agreement without involving the court. In some limited circumstances, the parties may agree that a preliminary hearing is not necessary.

During a divorce, the Court has the ability to address the following issues:

  • Division of property
  • Child custody
  • Child support
  • Spousal maintenance

Finalizing a Divorce

Indiana law requires that parties in a divorce wait at least 60 days before a divorce is granted. To finalize a divorce, parties may either enter a settlement agreement or have the issues determined by a judge in a court hearing. A settlement agreement can be negotiated between the parties, between their attorneys, or with the assistance of a family law mediator. A contested court hearing requires each party to present evidence, which typically includes the testimony of the parties and any relevant witnesses, on all issues in the divorce that are in dispute including the appropriate property division, child custody, child support, and spousal maintenance.