How Do I File for Divorce in Indiana?

In Indiana, you can choose to file a fault-based or no-fault divorce.

By , Attorney · UC Berkeley School of Law

Here's what you need to know to get started with your Indiana divorce (also called a "dissolution of marriage").

Residency Requirements for Divorce in Indiana

Before you can file for divorce in Indiana, at least one spouse must have been:

  • either a resident of Indiana or stationed at a military base within Indiana for the six months immediately before filing the divorce petition, and
  • either a resident of or stationed at a military base within the county where the petition is filed for three months immediately before filing.

(Ind. Code § 31-15-2-6 (2021).)

The Grounds for Divorce in Indiana

You can get either a "no-fault" or "fault-based" divorce in Indiana. In a no-fault divorce, you don't have to prove that your spouse's bad acts caused the end of the marriage. In a fault-based divorce, though, you'll have to demonstrate to the court that your spouse's actions caused the marriage to fail.

No-Fault Grounds for Divorce in Indiana

The no-fault ground (reason) for divorce in Indiana is the "irretrievable breakdown" of the marriage. (Ind. Code § 31-15-2-3(1) (2021).) As long as there is no reasonable possibility that the spouses will reconcile, the court will grant the divorce on this ground.

Fault-Based Grounds for Divorce in Indiana

No-fault divorces are more popular than fault-based—mainly because fault-based divorces are often more contentious, more expensive, and last longer than no-fault divorces. However, fault-based divorces in Indiana are still an option. The fault-based grounds for divorce in Indiana are:

  • Felony conviction. If either party is convicted after the marriage of a felony.
  • Impotence. If the impotence existed at the time of marriage.
  • Incurable insanity for a period of at least two years.

(Ind. Code § 31-15-2-3 (2021).)

How to File for a Divorce in Indiana

If you've decided to file a fault-based divorce, your divorce will likely be contested—in other words, you and your spouse won't agree on the terms of your divorce, such as property division, child support, and spousal support. On the other hand, if you and your spouse agree on all the issues, you can file an uncontested divorce.

Although many no-fault divorces are uncontested, not all are—it's possible that you and your spouse agree that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of your marriage, but you disagree about how to allocate property or parenting time.

How to File an Uncontested Divorce in Indiana

An uncontested divorce in Indiana is called a divorce "with agreement." The forms you'll use depend on your situation. Click on the link that best describes your situation to obtain the forms for filing your divorce.

Check out Indiana Legal Help's detailed instructions for help filling out these forms.

The court will schedule a final hearing no earlier than 60 days after you file your petition. The judge will finalize your divorce by signing a dissolution decree.

Summary Dissolution

You can avoid having a hearing in your agreed divorce by asking the court for a "summary dissolution." To get a summary dissolution, file the documents for an agreed divorce as well as:

  • a written waiver of final hearing signed by both parties and
  • either:

The court must wait at least 60 days after the petition is filed to enter the summary dissolution decree. (Ind. Code § 31-15-2-13 (2021).)

How to File a Contested Divorce in Indiana

When you and your spouse can't agree on all the issues in your divorce, you'll file a divorce "without agreement." The forms you use will depend on your situation. Click on the link that best describes your situation to obtain the forms for filing your divorce.

Check out Indiana Legal Help's detailed instructions for help filling out these forms.

Although you can represent yourself in your divorce, many people involved in a contested divorce choose to hire a lawyer to help them navigate the court system and present their case to the court.

Under Indiana law, the judge can't hold a final hearing on your divorce until at least 60 days after the petition is filed. (Ind. Code § 31-15-2-10 (2021).) Most contested divorces will take longer to finalize—up to a year and a half or more, depending on the circumstances.

Divorce Filing Fees in Indiana

You'll have to pay court fees when you file your divorce paperwork. As of 2021, the filing fee for a civil case (such as divorce) is $157. Your cost might be different if you pay to have the divorce papers served on your spouse or if the clerk of the court assesses other fees. Contact the court clerk in the county where you will file your divorce to find out the current filing fee.

If you can't afford to pay the filing fees, you can ask the judge to waive the fees. You can request a waiver by filing a Verified Motion for Fee Waiver (make sure you're using the correct fee waiver form for family law cases). If the court grants your request to waive fees, you will not have to pay any court costs—such as filing fees or fees for issuance of service of process—during your divorce.

Serving Your Spouse in Indiana

Once you file the paperwork, you will need to provide copies of all the documents to ("serve") your spouse and submit proof of service to the court. You can't serve the papers yourself—you must hire someone over age 18 and who is not a party to the case to serve them. Many people hire law enforcement (such as the sheriff) or a professional process server to serve divorce papers.

Service of divorce papers can be done by:

  • sending a copy by registered or certified mail with a written acknowledgment of receipt
  • personal delivery, or
  • leaving a copy at your spouse's residence (you must also send by first class mail).

If you're unable to serve your spouse this way, you can ask the court for permission to serve your spouse in another way, such as by publication or posting.

Waiver of Service in Indiana

You can avoid hiring law enforcement or a process server to serve your spouse if your spouse agrees to "waive" service. To waive service, your spouse must fill out and sign a Verified Waiver of Service of Process and Acknowledgement of Receipt of Petition and Summons. The form must be signed in front of a notary.

Indiana Legal Help provides a video with information about how to serve your spouse in Indiana.

Getting Help Filing Your Indiana Divorce

If you'd like to DIY your divorce, many of the forms you'll need are available on the Indiana courts' website.

If you're working with an attorney, your attorney will assess your situation and fill out, file, and serve all the necessary forms.

Many divorcing couples can't afford to hire an attorney to handle their entire case, but would like some assistance with completing and filing their forms. If this describes your situation, consider using an online divorce service or finding an attorney who will consult with you on an as-needed basis. Low-income individuals might qualify for reduced-fee or free legal aid.