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Divorce 101: Do You Need a Preliminary Hearing?

On Behalf of | Dec 12, 2014 | Firm News

What is a Preliminary Hearing? Preliminary Agreement? Preliminary Order?

A preliminary hearing is a hearing conducted by the Court that’s purpose is to set the rules for the spouses to abide by during the pendency of the divorce. The result of a preliminary hearing is a preliminary order issued by the Court. If the spouses are able to work out an agreement that addresses the preliminary issues without going to court, they can enter a preliminary agreement, which is the same as a preliminary order but does not require a hearing. Common issues addressed in preliminary agreements or orders are child support, child custody, spousal maintenance, payment of debts, and possession of the marital residence.

Do you need a Preliminary Hearing or Agreement?

Not every divorce needs a preliminary hearing or agreement. If you and your spouse can amicably deal with child custody and support as well as the payments of your debts during the pendency of the divorce then there may be no reason to address preliminary issues. If you and your spouse have separate finances and/or have been physically separated for some time, a preliminary agreement or hearing is typically not necessary.

For parties that cannot agree on these issues, a preliminary hearing should be requested. Oftentimes, parties are able to work out a preliminary agreement prior to a hearing date, but getting the issues set for a hearing can encourage both spouses to get the issues worked out between themselves, rather than attend a court hearing on the matter. Without a hearing date set, one party may have no incentive to reach an agreement.

When should you request your preliminary hearing?

When you file for divorce, your attorney should discuss with you whether or not you should request a preliminary hearing. A preliminary hearing can be requested in your initial filing for divorce . If you do request a hearing, the Court can set the matter for a hearing as soon as the Court’s calendar permits. This hearing can be heard before the 60-day cooling-off period is over.

A preliminary hearing can also be requested at a later time and it can also be requested by the party that did not file the divorce (this person is called the “Respondent” whereas the person that filed the divorce is called the “Petitioner”). Note, in most Indiana counties, the Court will not set your case for a preliminary hearing unless one of the parties requests that the case be set for a hearing.

To see where the preliminary issues fits into the process of divorcing in Indiana, check out our Divorce Roadmap .

If you would like to speak with an attorney, call us today at 317-953-2182 or complete our contact form and we’ll call you within one business day.