Man & Women Arguing

Who Gets the Dog? Outlining Divorce and Legal Separation

It's the age-old question, who in a breakup, in this case between spouses, gets the privilege of maintaining full rights to the dog? The answer can be complicated if you are unaware of how the divorce and legal separation process in Indiana works. Acknowledging that there are key similarities and differences between the two is a great way to start.

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Filing for Divorce

The technical phrasing for a divorce in Indiana is the dissolution of a marriage. Like most other states, a 60 day waiting period is customary before the court begins presiding over the case.

The grounds on which the court can decide to dissolve a marriage must fall into one of four categories:

  • Irrevocable breakdown of the marriage

  • Felony conviction during the marriage

  • Impotence during the marriage

  • Incurable insanity of either spouse over at least two years

While these are the standards for ruling on a divorce case, they are not the only aspects considered. When you file, you may also want to include any preferences in relation to child custody/support or property that the court should be ruling on.

If this seems intimidating, there is a legal separation process that may help you determine if you and your spouse want to endure the financial and emotional burden of a divorce.

Filing Legal Separation

While it is often thought that a legal separation is just a temporary fix while you and your spouse attend counseling or find other ways to reconcile, it historically has only been a short stop on the way to a divorce. Roughly 80% of couples who choose to legally separate follow through with the divorce process to end their marriage.

At its core, filing for legal separation indicates that the spouses no longer want to or cannot live with each other but still want to be viewed as married by the state. The grounds for ruling on a legal separation are:

  • the conditions of the marriage make it intolerable for the couple to live together,

  • the marriage should be maintained

If filed, this decision cannot last more than one full calendar year, especially if children are involved. So at the end of that timeline, you and your spouse would need to decide whether you are moving forward with a formal divorce process. However, it is important to note that you are not required to file for a legal separation before filing for divorce.

What Divorce and Legal Separation Have in Common

While these two methods differ on severity and logistics, the same factors are considered. Are children involved? Does one spouse plan on moving to another state or country during the process? These are all things to be considered before filing either agreement. You or your spouse may also be seeking:

  • Temporary maintenance

  • Temporary support or custody of a child

  • Possession of property

  • Counseling

  • A protective order

Having any of the above motions approved would be in favor of ensuring that each party's overall well-being is maintained - including any child. Regardless of which filing it is, child custody or support has to be included in the decree.

So, the question remains – who gets the dog? The answer might not be so cut and dry. Since pets are generally considered assets or property, the court may consider it as such and rule in favor of one person keeping it. More often than not, though, this matter is settled outside of the courtroom.

Have More Legal Separation Questions? Contact (888) 211-3888

If you have questions about whether you should file for legal separation for divorce, contact one of our Indiana divorce attorneys here at HOLLINGSWORTH ROBERTS MEANS when you call (888) 211-3888.