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The Difference Between a Divorce and an Annulment in Indiana

Divorce and annulment put an end to marital unions or partnerships in different ways. While divorce is a legal termination of a marital union or partnership, annulment renders a marital union or partnership void, as though the marriage or partnership did not exist, to begin with. In Indiana, divorce and annulment are different events, with different processes and requirements. Indiana state statutes and the judiciary provide guidelines for these events, including definitions, requirements, and processes. The Superior Court and Circuit Courts in Indiana hear civil family-related cases such as divorce and annulment.

What is an Indiana Divorce Decree?

A divorce decree is a court record that contains information about the divorced parties and the parties’ divorce. Divorce decrees are proof of divorce and contain information such as the names of the divorced parties, the date the court finalized the divorce, the county where the divorce event took place, and the name of the court. Divorce decrees also contain the parties’ financial information and divorce agreements, including alimony, child custody, visitation plans, property, asset division, child support, the divorce judgment, and any other record generated in the process of the divorce.

The records contained in documents related to family court include both marriage and divorce records. Both types of records contain information that is considered very personal to the parties involved, and it is recommended that those parties maintain these records with care in order to make changes in the future. The personal nature of these records results in both being considerably more difficult to find and obtain when compared to other types of public records. In many cases, these records are not available through either government sources or third party public record websites.

What is an Annulment in Indiana?

In Indiana, an annulment renders a marital union void. Indiana state statutes provide information about void and voidable marriages and actions to annul said marriages. According to Indiana state laws (IN Code § 31–11–8),, the following types of marriage are void:

  • Where one of the parties was mentally incompetent at the time of marriage
  • Where one of the parties was not of legal marriageable age
  • Where the marriage solemnization did not involve any legal proceedings
  • Where either of the parties had a living spouse at the time of solemnization
  • Where parties are closely related
  • Common law marriages
  • Where parties, which are Indiana residents, solemnize the marriage outside the state to evade state laws

In Indiana, annulment records are public records and are therefore available to interested parties on request. Parties interested in obtaining annulment records may contact the Circuit or Superior court clerk where the divorce was finalized.

Annulment vs Divorce in Indiana

While a divorce terminates a marital union, annulment renders the marriage void, as though it never existed. In Indiana, divorce and annulment have different requirements and processes; however, at the end of either process, a marital union will no longer exist, and parties may get married again.

Divorce may be contested or uncontested. To qualify for divorce in Indiana, parties must have been residents of the state for no less than six (6) months. Additionally, a member of the United States Armed Forces stationed in Indiana for at least six (6) months may file for divorce in the state. To file for a divorce, an interested party must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the Circuit or Superior court in the county where the couple or either party resides. The petitioning party must then serve the spouse with a court summons and a copy of the petition; the party may serve the summons through a private process server, by certified mail, or through the Sheriff’s office in the county.

On receiving the summons and petition, the respondent may file a counter-petition or accept service and begin divorce proceedings. Indiana has a minimum waiting period of 60 days before the court grants a divorce. (IN Code § 31–15–2–8 ).. Depending on whether the parties agree on divorce terms such as alimony, child custody, and child support, qualified parties may have an uncontested divorce or summary dissolution. Parties may also settle divorce terms through mediation. When parties agree in mediation, the mediator drafts an agreement and collects both parties’ signatures. The agreement cannot be enforced, except it has a judge’s signature. The mediator presents the agreement to the judge for signature and final divorce decree.

Parties who do not agree on divorce terms such as alimony, property distribution, and child support will have a contested divorce. If such parties cannot come to a settlement through mediation, the divorce will proceed to trial.

In Indiana, persons incapable of contracting marriage or such person’s guardians, victims of fraud, and other parties in voidable marriages may file a legal annulment action. Parties who are incapable of contracting a marriage on the grounds of age or mental fitness may file a Petition for Annulment at the Superior Court or Circuit court. Alternatively, such persons’ guardians may file for annulment on the person’s behalf. However, the guardian must provide the guardian’s name and address in the petition. Additionally, the guardian must submit a court order granting the guardian the authority to file for annulment on the married party’s behalf. The guardian may file for an annulment in the county where the guardian has been in residence for at least three (3) months.

If a marriage is voidable as a result of fraud, that is, one of the married parties is fraudulent, the other party may file for an annulment in the Superior or Circuit court. However, if the petitioner continues to live with the respondent after discovering the fraud, it is a defense against the petition (IN Code § 31–11–10)..

When both parties agree to an annulment, the parties may file an Agreed Annulment. The annulment process is complete when the judge signs the agreed annulment.

Is an Annulment Cheaper Than Divorce In Indiana?

In Indiana, annulment and divorce are financially tasking as both processes often require court appearances and a divorce or annulment attorney’s legal services. Except for persons who have legal reasons to get an annulment or parties in voidable marriages, parties seeking a dissolution may file a petition for a divorce, as there are no significant differences in cost between both options. In divorce and annulment cases, parties must pay filing fees, service fees and other court fees, and attorney fees.

What is an Uncontested Divorce in Indiana?

An uncontested divorce or summarily dissolution is one where both parties agree on divorce terms, including alimony, child support, child custody, property division, asset/debt division, and visitation. Uncontested divorces are typically quicker and less expensive than contested divorces as the court may grant a divorce without a hearing (IN Code § 31–15–2–8)..

Where to Get an Uncontested Divorce Form in Indiana

Interested parties may file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the Court Clerk at the Circuit court or Superior Court in the county where either party resides. Parties who agree on divorce terms and choose to file for an uncontested divorce or a summary solution must file pleadings verified and signed by both parties. The pleadings must contain:

  • A hearing waiver
  • A statement of no contest or
  • An agreement that settles all divorce terms and issues, signed by both partiesdivorce decrees On

The waiting period for an uncontested divorce in Indiana is 60 days.

Divorce records such as divorce certificates are public records in Indiana unless the court seals such records. Divorce certificates are accessible to the public on request. Divorce decrees, on the other hand, contain confidential information about the parties, and as such, may not be accessible to the public. To find information about divorce records, interested parties may contact the County Clerk in the county where the court granted the divorce.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How Do I Get a Copy of my Divorce Decree in Indiana?

Indiana does not offer access to divorce records online. Interested parties may request divorce decree copies by contacting the Court Clerk in the county where the court granted the divorce. While it may be possible for authorized persons to inspect divorce decrees at no cost, the court will charge fees to produce copies of divorce decrees.

Divorce and marriage records may be available through government sources and organizations, though their availability cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these organizations are not government-sponsored and record availability may vary further. Finally, marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information they contain, and are often sealed. Bearing these factors in mind, record availability for these types of records cannot be guaranteed.

How Do I Get an Indiana Divorce Decree Online?

While divorce records are generally not available online in Indiana, some counties, such as Indianapolis and Marion, provide online request forms for divorce decrees. Where it is impossible to submit requests online, interested parties may submit written requests by mail or in-person to the Court Clerk in the county where the court granted the divorce.

Divorce and Annulment Differences in Indiana
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