Serving Divorce Papers in Indiana: An Overview
A spouse filing for divorce must serve the other spouse with divorce papers to notify them of the pending legal action. Here’s all you need to know about serving divorce papers in Indiana.
Any individual over the age of 18 not involved in the divorce case may fulfill the service of process on behalf of a filing spouse in Indiana. The paid process server or county clerk may personally deliver the divorce papers, send the divorce papers by registered or certified mail, or leave a copy at the spouse’s residence. The recipient does not need to respond to the divorce notice within a specific time frame, but the court will schedule a hearing after a minimum wait time of 60 days.
Divorce Requirements in Indiana
Before filing for divorce, Indiana law requires at least one spouse to:
- Have been a resident of Indiana or stationed at a U.S. military base for at least six months immediately before filing the divorce, and
- Have been a resident or stationed at a U.S. military base within the county of the divorce petition for at least three months immediately before filing for divorce.
Indiana allows “no-fault” divorces wherein the filing spouse does not need to prove the other spouse’s misbehavior caused the marriage’s dissolution. Most divorces in Indiana cite an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage.
Fault-based reasons for a divorce include:
- A spouse obtains a felony conviction during the marriage.
- A spouse becomes impotent during the marriage.
- A spouse was incurably insane for at least two years.
Spouses filing a fault-based dissolution typically undergo a contested divorce. In a contested divorce, the spouses disagree over areas like child support, property division, or alimony.
Indiana Service of Process Laws
To initiate the divorce process, a spouse must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The petition form differs depending on if the marriage involved children and the divorce was without agreement. Upon filing the petition, the court will schedule a hearing in a minimum of 60 days.
The service of process requirement signifies the filing spouse must provide a copy of the summons and complaint to the other spouse. The summons states information on the recipient, the petitioner’s attorney, and the case. Recipients who do not respond to the summons within the specified time limit may face a judgment by default. While the recipient is not required to respond to divorce papers in Indiana, the filing spouse can still obtain a divorce after the 60-day waiting period without the recipient’s response.
Any person over 18 may represent the filing spouse in service of process and personally deliver the divorce papers. Indiana law does not allow the filing spouse to serve the divorce papers directly. The county clerk may serve the documents by certified or expedited mail or other public means with a requested return receipt.
The paid process server or county clerk can send the divorce papers to the recipient’s home, place of employment, or business location. Regardless of the original service of process location, the server must send a copy of the papers to the recipient’s last known address through first-class mail.
A clerk or court-appointed server can fulfill the service of process by publication if the petitioner cannot locate their spouse after a diligent search. A service of process by publication states the spouse must respond within 30 days of the last published notice of action to avoid a default judgment. After the initial publication, two succeeding publications must appear in a newspaper legally authorized to publish notices. The publications must be at least seven and no more than fourteen days apart.
FAQs About Serving Divorce Papers in Indiana
Can I waive the service of process requirement in Indiana?
Indiana law allows a filing spouse to waive the service of process requirement with a “Verified Waiver of Service of Process and Acknowledgement of Receipt of Petition for
Dissolution (Divorce) and Summons” form. Both spouses must agree to waive the service of process, and the Respondent spouse must fill out and sign the form. A notary must be present when the spouses sign the form.
How much are divorce filing fees in Indiana?
Divorce filing fees in Indiana vary by county and whether the marriage involved children. The costs usually range from $132 to $177. Spouses may need to pay for other fees related to administration, documents, or couriers.
Can I avoid a hearing in an agreed divorce?
In an uncontested divorce, spouses may ask for a “summary dissolution” by filing both of the following:
- A written waiver signed by both spouses
- A statement denying contested issues or a signed settlement agreement