Under certain circumstances spouses can divorce without the participation of a lawyer, and this is quite legal. Indiana allows its citizens to independently represent their interests before the court. A divorce without an attorney means that the claimant and the defendant themselves prepare all the necessary papers and go through the judicial procedure. This is quite doable if the dissolution is amicable and the spouses are willing to compromise.
A divorce without a lawyer has every reason to be if it is uncontested and the spouses are ready to settle all their differences together. Otherwise, it makes sense to use the services of a qualified divorce specialist. But if the spouses nevertheless decided that an attorney is not needed for them, below are listed main steps on how to get a divorce without a lawyer.
Step 1. Make sure you meet state requirements.
Indiana has its own conditions for filing a lawsuit with a court, which must be met by either of the spouses. In order to file for a divorce case in Indiana one of the spouses must be a state resident for at least 6 months prior to filing documents with the court. If you already know in which county you want to get a divorce, then someone from your couple must live in this county for at least 3 months.
Step 2. Make sure that there is no disagreement between you and your spouse.
If you conflict with any circumstances of your termination, a divorce without a lawyer becomes a mission impossible. You do not need a lawyer if both of you want to dissolve a marriage and both agree with all the peculiarities of a divorce such as: the reasons that led to the desire to dissolve the marriage, the division of property and custody of common minor children, alimony and any other nuances that may cause controversy. Before proceeding with a procedure of divorce, it makes sense to settle all your differences and find solutions that would satisfy the interests of both of you. The result of your discussions should be the Settlement Agreement, which describes in detail how you resolve all differences regarding your divorce.
Step 3. Deal with paperwork.
You need to collect and fill out all the necessary papers for divorce. You can get them from your court clerk or download from the Indiana Judicial Branch website. Basic papers you may need:
- Petition for Divorce – in this document you ask the court to grant a divorce.
- Financial Affidavit – with this document you show the court your and your spouse financial situation.
- Settlement Agreement – your agreement with your spouse, which indicates that all disputes have already been resolved.
- Summons – a document on the basis of which your spouse will be notified that you filed a lawsuit. Summons is needed if you do not file a Joint Petition for divorce.
- Notice of Hearing – a document that is needed for the court to set a date of your hearing.
- Divorce Decree – a document that must be signed by a judge in order for your divorce to become official.
Depending on the circumstances of your marriage or county, you may need to collect additional forms. All papers you fill out yourself which is known as Do-It-Yourself Divorce. Perhaps the step of filling out forms is one of the most important, because if the papers contain errors or inaccuracies the court will not grant a divorce. That is why it is needed to submit a package of documents carefully prepared according to all the rules of the law.
For those spouses who wish to get a divorce without a lawyer, but are afraid of legal nuances or mistakes there is an excellent way out and it is Online Divorce. Spouses can prepare the entire package of forms through special online services, for example CompleteCase.com or OnlineDivorce.com. These are websites where spouses answer questions regarding all the circumstances of their dissolution and married life, after which the site’s services send them totally completed forms. This is a very convenient way to collect a package of documents, as the opportunity to make a mistake when filling out forms here is minimized. In addition, almost all such sites provide instructions on how to get a divorce without a lawyer.
Step 4. File documents with a court.
You need to make copies of your entire document package and file it with the clerk’s office. The clerk will register your case and stamp your copies. You will also need to pay a court fee of $132 to $152, depending on the county. After you pay the court fee, the clerk will give you a case registration number.
Step 5. Serve a spouse.
If you do not file a Joint Petition, your spouse must be notified of the commencement of the lawsuit, which is called ‘serving a spouse’. In Indiana this is pretty simple, after you file a case with the court the clerk will send a copies of all your forms to your spouse by Certified Mail.
Step 6. Waiting period.
Indiana has a mandatory waiting period. The court will begin to consider the case only after 60 days have passed from the moment all papers were filed with the clerk. Nevertheless quite often this period is increased, since the courts are fairly busy and cases are considered in order.
Step 7. Final hearing.
When the date of your hearing comes, you must be present in court. If your documents are ok, the judge will grant a divorce at the first hearing. There are also situations when there is no disagreement between the spouses at all, in this case the divorce will be granted on the basis of a settlement agreement and the spouses will not even have to visit the courtroom.
Divorce without a lawyer is not so difficult, in addition, it saves a lot of money. In fact almost anyone can deal with the procedure of divorce in Indiana without difficulty and do everything on their own, especially since now there are many reliable services that help spouses arrange a DIY divorce.