Is It Better to Be the First Person to File for Divorce in Indiana?
Filing for divorce first in Indiana does not provide any significant advantage over a court’s final decision, as Indiana family law judges are required to consider both spouses’ evidence and testimony equally, then determine other matters such as support, custody, and property division. However, other advantages may exist that can help an individual feel more in control of the process.
In this article, we will explain a few of the potential advantages of filing first for divorce in Indiana so that you can understand if it will be better to be the first person to file for a divorce. If you are facing a divorce (either as the petitioner or the respondent), you should seek legal counsel from an experienced Indiana divorce lawyer, as the matters adjudicated in a divorce can have significant and long-lasting financial and lifestyle ramifications.
At Mattox & Wilson, we possess the knowledge and skills to vigorously represent clients in contested and uncontested dissolutions. If you are contemplating or facing divorce, we invite you to call our office at 812-944-8005 to schedule a consultation to learn more about how we tenaciously fight for our clients’ rights.
What Are the Benefits of Filing First for a Divorce in Indiana?
While filing first for divorce does not by itself impact the outcome of a divorce case, it can be advantageous for a number of reasons, including:
- Evidence Protection. All assets and debts must be inventoried so that the marital estate can be divided. By filing first, an individual can begin the process of collecting vital evidence before the other party has an opportunity to conceal or destroy any documentation.
- Best Attorney Selection. If you are contemplating divorce and have children, significant assets, or a business, it is critical to secure the representation of the best divorce attorney possible. By taking the first step toward the dissolution of your marriage, you can secure a top-rated divorce attorney before your spouse has a chance to even start looking.
- More Time to Prepare. To initiate the divorce process, an individual must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. While your spouse may only have a limited amount of time to find an attorney and prepare for the divorce, if you file first, you can take the time you need to fully prepare yourself before filing a petition.
- Proximity. As a petitioner, an individual can decide in which county to file for divorce; however, they must have resided in Indiana for at least six months. It is advisable to file for divorce in a county where you or your ex-spouse have lived for at least three months to avoid future transfer issues. For example, if an individual files in a county where neither they nor their spouse has lived for the last three months, the spouse’s attorney can file a Motion to Transfer, requesting that the case be transferred to a county where one of the parties have lived in last three months. If this occurs, you may be responsible for paying transfer costs that could have potentially been avoided.
- Provisional Orders. When parents separate, it can be difficult to decide who should be the primary caregiver for the children. It is important to consider all of the factors involved and make sure that the best interests of your children are taken into account. Unfortunately, if you and your ex-spouse disagree about who should be the primary caregiver or if there is an issue of abuse or lack of trust, then it may be necessary to seek outside help in order to resolve this issue. To protect you and your child’s interests, a party can ask for provisional (temporary) orders to establish a parenting time schedule, to set up temporary support, to establish possession of the residence, or to allocate the payment of marital debts. If an individual is not ready to file for divorce but needs protection from an abusive spouse or partner, we can assist in seeking a protective order which is a separate proceeding from the divorce case.
At Mattox & Wilson, we would be happy to discuss the facts of your case and explain whether filing first may be in your best interests. Call our office today to schedule a consultation with an experienced Indiana divorce attorney.
What Issues Are Commonly Contested in Indiana Divorces?
Indiana divorce cases can involve a range of issues that are commonly disputed, including matters involving:
- Property Division. Indiana is an equitable distribution state, meaning that assets and debts acquired during a marriage are divided in an “equitable” or “fair” manner, not necessarily as a 50/50 split. Divorce typically requires an inventory of bank accounts, retirement accounts, real property, and other assets. Beginning this process before filing can help ensure that your spouse does not have the opportunity to move or hide assets.
- Child Custody. When divorcing partners have children, determining custody arrangements can be a highly emotional and hotly contested issue. Indiana courts determine child custody matters based on what is in the best interests of a child, which may involve considering factors such as parenting skills, the wishes of the children and parents, history of abuse or neglect, and other factors.
- Child Support. When one parent is awarded primary physical custody of a child, the other parent is typically required to pay child support. Disputes frequently arise over how much child support should be paid and for how long.
- Domestic Violence. If a divorce involves a history of domestic violence, this can complicate many aspects of an Indiana divorce case, including property division, custody, and even divorce proceedings.
What Happens If I Do Not File For Divorce First in Indiana?
Although there may be some advantages to filing for divorce first, you should not worry if your spouse has already filed. In Indiana, judges give equal weight to each side, allowing for a fair and equitable outcome in divorce matters. As such, you will still have the opportunity to work with an experienced Indiana divorce lawyer who can help present a compelling case.
If you are contemplating divorce or have been served with divorce papers in Indiana, you need a tenacious divorce advocate by your side who can help fight for the best outcome possible. Call us today to schedule a consultation with an experienced New Albany divorce lawyer to learn more about your divorce and legal options.