Divorce vs. Legal Separation

We’re your legal guide to Indiana Legal Separation and Divorce laws

A highly skilled Indiana family law attorney at Stidham Legal can guide you through the process by assisting you with filing for Legal Separation or Divorce, inventorying your assets and debts, navigating mediation, protecting your children, and advocating for your best interests in court. While Legal Separation and Divorce are adversarial processes by their very nature, Stidham Legal can help remove some of the stress, trauma, and anxiety associated with a Legal Separation or Divorce by handling the difficult and complex matters.

Call or text us today (219) 232-6099 for your free case consultation. Let us guide you through the complicated laws regarding Legal Separation and Divorce and help you get what you have earned.

What’s the difference between Legal Separation and Divorce in Indiana?

Under Indiana law, married couples considering divorce may choose a legal separation instead of moving forward with a divorce filing.

What is Legal Separation?

Legal Separation, like divorce, involves one spouse filing a petition with the Court to establish. You do not have to file for Legal Separation before filing for divorce. Legal Separation provides each spouse a “cooling off” period of up to one year to consider future options.

During a Legal Separation, either spouse may ask the court to issue temporary orders regarding important matter such as child custody and support, temporary spousal maintenance, and payment of marital debts. The Court may also order the parties to attend counseling in an attempt to reconcile.

When Does Legal Separation End?

Legal Separation ends if both parties agree to dismiss the action, one of the parties files to convert the action to a divorce, or the parties take no action after one year. If the Legal Separation is converted to a divorce, the temporary orders regarding child custody/support, maintenance, etc, are ended and new orders may be issued in the divorce action.

Do I Have to File for Legal Separation in Order to Live Separate From My Spouse?

No. Either party may “move out” and live separate from the other without any court action. However, a spouse may not be able to require the other spouse to contribute to marital debts and child support with the court orders provided in Legal Separation or Divorce.

Important Issues in Indiana Family Law Cases

Do I need a lawyer if I’m getting a divorce?

An Indiana lawyer is highly recommended if you have children or assets that you want divided between you and your spouse. A lawyer serves as an advocate for you throughout the legal process, ensuring that you don’t lose your rights as a parent and that your assets aren’t taken away.

How long does an Indiana divorce take?

The length of the Indiana divorce process varies case by case, but typically depends on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. An uncontested divorce, one where both parties agree about the terms of the divorce, can be submitted to the court for approval in as little as 60 days. A contested divorce, one where you and your ex-spouse don’t agree on all areas of the settlement, can take 9-12 months or longer.

Do I have to go to court for my divorce?

If your Indiana divorce is uncontested, you probably will not go to court. The court typically approves the agreement submitted by Stidham Legal within a few days without a hearing. However, for a contested divorce, you will likely appear in court for one or more hearings. For either type, uncontested or contested, Stidham Legal, your Northwest Indiana attorney, can guide you through stressful proceedings.

How does a court determine who gets child custody?

If you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on child custody and visitation rights, the decision will be made in court by a judge. Indiana child custody laws requires the child’s “best interests” to be the most important factor in this decision. The court will take into consideration who has served as the child’s “primary caretaker” (i.e. which parent has been primarily responsible for meal planning and preparation, healthcare, etc.). Other factors also come into play such as the child’s age, the relationship with either parent, prior negative acts of the parents, and the living environment.

What does no-fault divorce mean?

Indiana law provides for no-fault divorce meaning the reasons causing a divorce are not considered by the court for purposes of allowing the parties to get divorced. Basically, if at least one spouse wants a divorce then the couple will be divorced.

What is “legal custody” versus “physical custody”?

In Indiana, legal custody refers to the authority to make major decisions regarding a child’s health, education, safety, and welfare. Physical custody means that a child lives with the custodial parent the majority of the time. The non-custodial parent typically has parenting time by schedule.

What are the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines?

Indiana divorce attorneys and courts use the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines, published by the Indiana Supreme Court, as a guide to establishing parenting time schedules for non-custodial parents. The typical “every other weekend plus a midweek visit” is found in the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. While the Guidelines are frequently used to establish parenting time, Stidham Legal, your Northwest Indiana child custody attorney, can help you adopt the parenting time schedule that works best for you and your children.

How is child support determined?

Indiana child support attorneys use the Indiana Child Support Guidelines to help clients calculate the correct child support for their situation. We help clients ensure they pay or receive the appropriate amount of support. Indiana child support factors include the amount of time spent with each parent, childcare costs, health insurance costs, and the parties’ incomes.