Maybe? In Indiana, almost all divorce laws are created by statutes, generally called the Divorce Act. The Legislature specifically created the right to divorce.1 As long as one party puts on evidence of a valid reason for divorce, the other party cannot refuse to divorce. The reasons are irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, conviction of either spouse subsequent to the marriage of a felony, impotence, and incurable insanity of either party for a period of at least two (2) years.2 Any of these reasons and social and/or religious stigma sometimes, will have a party asking if they can file their divorce in a different county than where they live. This blog focuses on residency and venue requirements for divorce and how a case could be filed in, moved to, or wind up in a different county.
Under the Divorce Act, in order to file for divorce in Indiana, at least one of the parties must have been a resident of Indiana or stationed at a United States military installation for six months immediately preceding the filing of the petition.3 This means that a mother or father living in another state may not take the children, move to Indiana, and file for divorce. Such a party would not meet the residency or venue requirements. In addition, under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Law, the state where the children had lived for the prior six months would be their “home state” where custody litigation would have to be filed. Further, under the Divorce Act, at the time of filing a divorce petition, at least one of the parties must have been a resident of the county or stationed at a United States military installation within the county for three months immediately proceeding the filing of divorce.4
There is one narrow exception in the Divorce Act that allows the case to be filed in a different county. This is where a court has authorized a guardian to filed a divorce petition on behalf of an incapacitated person. In this case, the divorce may be filed in the guardian’s county of residence if the guardian has lived in that county for three months. This is a situation that probably does not apply to address your desire to file in a different county. It is worth noting that even if the case is filed in another county, divorce proceedings in most all cases are open to the public and most of the filings and proceedings are not confidential.5
All said, a judge or judges in each of Indiana’s 92 counties have jurisdiction to hear divorce cases. What this means is that if your spouse agrees, you may file a case in a different county or transfer your divorce case to a different county. You can even agree to a specific judge to hear your case. However, any given judge can refuse to accept any given case. Normally, this is not an issue. So ultimately, if you have a high-asset case, are very private about your family, or have other good reasons—and your spouse agrees—you may be able to move your divorce case to a different county within Indiana. However, you cannot waive the residence requirement where one party has to live in the state for six months prior to filing as the trial court does not have jurisdiction over these cases.
Every divorce case is unique and has specific issues/problems that may be addressed in numerous ways through statutes in the Divorce Act, caselaw and/or agreements. Truly the statutes that comprise the Divorce Act provide innumerable tools a skilled lawyer may use to meet the unique needs of your case, such as potentially filing and/or transferring the case to another county. This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle domestic case of all types throughout State. This blog is written for general educational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice, or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.
- Indiana Code section 31-15-2-2.
- These grounds are contained in Indiana Code section 31-15-2-3. However, as a practical matter most every divorce petition cites irretrievable breakdown of the marriage as the basis of a divorce.
- Indiana Code section 31-15-2-6(a).
- Indiana Code section 31-15-2-6(b).
- Indiana Rule of Administrative Procedure 9(G) (addressing court records excluded from public access).