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Two Decades of Guiding Clients Through The Trials Of Divorce

Last updated on May 31, 2024

I bring more than 20 years of hands-on litigation and mediation experience to my cases, representing clients in divorce and family law courts throughout Indiana. My focus on achieving favorable outcomes, whether in court or through mediation, has earned me a reputation for transparency, knowledge, reasonableness and success. When I handle your case, I prioritize not only your triumph but also your long-term emotional and financial well-being.

No two divorce cases are the same; the circumstances of your divorce are different from another’s. With an impressive track record of success in complex divorces, you can trust Smith Legal LLC with your very important issues.

No matter how unique, complex or specific your circumstances are, allow me to assist you in litigating or settling your case.

What Are The Grounds For Filing A Divorce In Indiana?

In Indiana, as in many other states, you can file for a divorce on no-fault grounds. No-fault grounds means there is an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage without any wrongdoing or marital misconduct between the husband or wife.

What Are The Steps Involved In Filing For A Divorce?

The process of filing for a divorce generally involves several steps. These steps are:

  1. Residency requirement: Before filing for a divorce in Indiana, you or your spouse must have been a resident of the state, or stationed at a U.S. military installation within the state, for at least six months prior to filing. Additionally, you must have resided in the county where you are filing for at least three months (90 days).
  2. Prepare the documents: The first official step is to prepare the necessary legal documents. The primary document is the “Verified Petition for Dissolution of Marriage,” which includes basic information about you, your spouse, your marriage and any children you may have. Many other forms are typically required depending on your situation, such as summons, confidential information documents, notices of exclusion, financial disclosures, child support worksheets, marital estate balance sheets and financial declarations.
  3. File the petition: You will need to file your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the Clerk of the Circuit or Superior Court in the county where you or your spouse lives. There will be a filing fee, which varies by county. Parties can agree to waive jurisdiction and file in counties in which they do not reside.
  4. Serve the papers: After filing, you must provide legal notice to your spouse by “serving” them with a copy of the divorce petition and any other relevant documents. There are several methods to do this, such as waiver of service (most common), sheriff’s service or private process service, and in some cases, by certified mail.
  5. Waiting period: Indiana law requires a waiting period of at least 60 days from the date the petition for divorce is filed before the divorce can be finalized. Most divorces take much longer than 60 days to complete.
  6. Temporary orders: Either party can request temporary orders from the court for things like child custody, child support, spousal support and possession of property while the divorce is pending.
  7. Discovery: During this phase, both parties may exchange information and documents related to assets, debts, income and other relevant matters.
  8. Negotiate a settlement: Many divorce cases are resolved through negotiation between the parties, resulting in a settlement agreement on all issues, such as property division, child custody and support. Mediation is the common event that helps parties reach amicable resolution.
  9. Divorce trial: If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will go to trial, where a judge will make decisions on all unresolved issues.
  10. Final decree: Once all issues are resolved, either through settlement or trial, the court will issue a Final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage, which officially ends the marriage and outlines the terms of the divorce.

It’s critical to seek legal counsel to navigate the complex divorce process and ensure you meet all the legal requirements.

Do You Need To Hire An Attorney?

Although you are not legally required to hire an attorney for a divorce, it is extremely advantageous, if not critical, to do so. Many of the reasons are as follows:

  • Legal experience: Family law can be complex, so an experienced attorney like me can help you understand the procedures, legal standards, local rules and many other challenges and requirements to complete the divorce.
  • Representation in court: If your divorce case goes to trial, Smith Legal LLC can represent you in court, advocate on your behalf, and present your case to the judge.
  • Negotiations: Smith Legal LLC can help negotiate the terms of the divorce settlement, including the division of assets, custody arrangements and support payments.
  • Protection of rights: I can help protect your rights and interests throughout the divorce process.

Especially if your spouse has legal representation, you will need independent representation: an attorney cannot represent two adverse parties. If you want candid, honest, no non-sense, well-informed and serious legal representation, contact Smith Legal LLC.

How Much Will My Divorce Cost?

Determining the exact cost of a dissolution action is not realistically possible. A number of factors must be considered in order to determine even an estimated range of costs, including attorney fees and court costs. Most dissolution actions involve services for drafting all initial pleadings; gathering information and documentation related to the parties’ assets, debts, income and expenses for children; and then drafting all settlement documentation, attending mediation and potentially participating in a contested final hearing.

The total cost for cases varies greatly depending on the number of disputes between the parties, the cooperation or lack thereof between the parties and their respective counsel, the number and character of their assets and debts, the involvement of experts and issues pertaining to children.

Smith Legal LLC via Scott Smith charges a minimum of $300 per hour and an initial advance fee of no less than $3,000 on all cases.

How Long Will My Divorce Take?

After the initial filing of a petition for dissolution of marriage, a court cannot grant the divorce for 60 days.

The time frame by which a divorce will be concluded, either by agreement or a contested hearing, cannot be determined. A number of factors impact the time it takes to complete a divorce, such as: cooperation between the parties, knowledge and skill of the attorneys, the parties’ and attorneys’ availability, the mediator’s schedule and especially the court’s docket.

Can We Settle Without Going To Court?

Absolutely. Smith Legal LLC has a track record of resolving over 90% of its cases without actual in-court litigation via settlement or mediation. Learn more about resolving a divorce out of court.

When Should I Consider Litigation?

How should you determine whether a trial is right for your divorce? After sitting down with me and speaking in-depth about your circumstances, we may decide to proceed to litigation if:

  • Your spouse refuses to compromise
  • You and your spouse are not on speaking terms
  • You and your spouse have tried mediation but cannot agree on key issues
  • Your marriage involved the presence of domestic abuse, mental illness or substance abuse
  • You would prefer to have a judge make major decisions for your divorce settlement

Generally, litigation is the last resort only when forms of alternative dispute resolution have not proven beneficial. I always prepare for the possibility of a trial – both to cover all contingencies and to have a strong position in negotiations.

Ask Me About Divorce

Call Smith Legal LLC today at 317-953-2572 to schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation about your case or contact me through email. Whether you live in Noblesville, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield, Cicero, Zionsville, Lebanon, Anderson, Avon, Plainfield, Brownsburg, Greenwood, Greenfield, Indianapolis or the Central Indiana area, let’s discuss your case and find a resolution to your divorce.