Getting a divorce in Indianapolis
Explore your options in Marion County
In one of her monthly columns, Marion County Clerk Beth White takes on the question, “Dear Beth, I am currently going through a divorce and do not think that I will be able to afford the services of an attorney. Is there anything I can do? Sincerely yours, Concerned Carl.”
Pitfalls of pro se representation
In her response, Ms. White acknowledges the pain and grief that often accompany divorce, counsels against the man’s representing himself and reveals that the man might qualify for a pro bono attorney:
I am sorry to hear that you are going through this difficult process. Before we get started, it is important that you understand that this information should not replace the advice of an attorney. The court does not encourage individuals to file and prosecute their own divorce without the help of an attorney. If you are unable to afford counsel you may speak with the Family Court Coordinator in Room W-125 of the City-County Building to be screened for the appointment of pro bono counsel.
If you do choose represent yourself (pro se) in any legal proceeding you are bound by the same
procedural rules as an attorney. You should also know that the court’s staff are not attorneys. They
cannot advise you regarding the form and substance of the pleadings you must file. Their only
responsibility is to accept and process your pleadings and to set hearings.
Advantages of mediation
Next Ms. White explains mediation, a process which might yield an uncontested divorce, in which both parties agree to all the terms and conditions of the divorce, thereby requiring no trial. She says some couples might even qualify for reduced-rates mediation:
In order to avoid going to court, you may submit an agreed decree or consult with a mediator for assistance reaching an agreement. Mediators are available in the Family Resource Center and are paid on an hourly basis. Couples that meet certain financial requirements may take advantage of mediation through the Family Court Project. You can reach their office at (317) 327-4575 or visit them in room W-125 of the City-County Building during regular business hours.
Workshop required when children involved
If minor children are involved, says White, “there are additional forms that need to be filed. Furthermore, couples with children are required to attend and complete the ‘Children Coping with Divorce’ workshop before the dissolution can be finalized.” Contact info is provided.
More online resources are provided:
- Indiana State Supreme Court: www.in.gov/judiciary/selfservice/forms/
- Indiana Child Support calculator: www.in.gov/judiciary/childsupport/
- Marion County Superior Courts:www.indy.gov/eGov/Courts/Superior/Resources/Pages/forms.aspx
- Going Pro Se’ video: www.indy.gov/eGov/Courts/Superior/CourtInfo/Pages/home.aspx
She ends by emphasizing the need for an attorney and provides a referral link.
[Next: Divorce in Indiana.]
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