Child Custody

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Child Custody Overview

A dispute over child custody can be one of the most challenging (as well as mentally and physically exhausting) experiences of life. We know. We have been litigating contested child-custody matters for nearly thirty years. Every case is unique, personal, and the outcome matters.

In addition, it is easy for a party to get lost as to what the fight is about as child custody covers a vast legal area, collectively making up domestic law. The initial custody determination is normally the first fight. From there, there may be many other challenges to your custody. This includes third parties who seek custody to grandparent visitation.

Even without third-party interference with your child custody matter, there are often conflicts and challenges that follow the initial custody determination. For instance, the non-custodial parent may seek to modify custody. You may need to move with the children for a new love interest or job. And there may be many other battles, from chasing child support from a deadbeat parent to seeking or challenging higher education expenses if the children go to college. We will not back down from a fight, especially considering your children’s best interests are at stake. When it comes to complex child custody disputes, we are hands on, and gloves off.

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What Makes Us Unique

Bryan Ciyou, founder of Ciyou & Associates, P.C. will always be lead counsel for your case. Mr. Ciyou understands how nuanced and sensitive family law is. He is armed with the experience, knowledge, skills set, and credibility that is required for the complex matters that are inevitably involved in custody cases. Mr. Ciyou has successfully handled, tried, and won custody cases throughout Indiana and cases involving interstate and international courts. His cases decided by the Court of Appeals of Indiana and Indiana Supreme Court have literally shaped or changed Indiana family law; some of his appellate cases have also found trial court decisions to be unconstitutional—your most sacred legal right – in the Paternity of K.D. Opinion and Israel Case. Mr. Ciyou has also sought a grant of certiorari before the United State Supreme Court.

Ciyou & Associates, P.C. is the firm the other side wishes they hired; and it often becomes successor counsel in particularly contentious cases that may take several days of trial to present all the pending issues before the trial court. His professional success can be traced back to becoming an Eagle Scout; he practices domestic law by the simple Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared”. With this, Ciyou & Associates, P.C. begins preparing for trial from day one. Whether this be coming to the negotiation table or walking into the courtroom, we are prepared. See Bryan Ciyou’s Complete CV.

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Child Custody FAQ's

In a divorce or paternity proceeding (or third-party custody case), the court retains jurisdiction over the children until they are emancipated. During this time, the court may modify physical custody, parenting time, legal custody, and child support. The court can also enter a higher-education order whereby the parties are ordered to contribute a reasonable amount toward their children’s college degrees. 

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There are two types of child custody: physical and legal custody. Physical custody is who the child will spend most days and nights with. The non-custodial parent will receive Indiana Parenting Time Guideline time at a minimum. Legal custody is who makes the children’s medical, educational, and religious decisions.

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There is not a “technical” or “legal” definition of a child custody attorney. However, there are few attorneys who limit their practice to the practice of primarily domestic relations law. In highly contested cases, such counsel is more likely to help work through the case and help you obtain your legal goals.

There is simply no substitute for a great deal of experience in family law to be a good or great family law attorney. If an attorney limits his or her practice to family law, and has practiced for several years, there is a good chance he or she is a good family law attorney.

At the present time, one parent will be awarded sole physical custody and the other will have Indiana Parenting Time Guideline time at a minimum; this is the non-custodial parent and he or she pays child support. In addition, the court will order legal custody and may award joint and/or sole legal custody. Legal custody is who makes the children’s health, educational, and religious decisions. 

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“Legal custody” is a legal term of art referring to the parent who makes the children’s medical, educational, and religious decisions. Lawful custody, on the other hand, is the right to participate in the child’s upbringing versus any other person

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There is a strong public policy that favors permanency and stability for children. For this reason, a parent must show a substantial change in circumstances and that it is in the best interests of the children to modify physical custody. 

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A party may appeal any final order establishing initial custody or modifying child custody. To do so, he or she must file a Notice of Appeal within thirty (30) days after the issuance of the final order. Failure to timely file the Notice of Appeal forfeits the right to appeal. 

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A court always makes a child custody and parenting time (formerly known as “visitation”), decisions in the children’s best interests. The best interest standard is the driving principle behind Indiana trial courts’ decisions on child physical custody, parenting time, and legal custody. 

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In a divorce case, the trial court will receive evidence on the components of child support and enter a child support order for the non-custodial parent. In a case where a child is born out of wedlock, even if a hospital paternity affidavit is signed, one of the parents must open a paternity case to establish child support. 

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Typically, this comes up when a party moves out, takes the children, and files for divorce. Until there is an agreement or preliminary hearing and order, the parents are equally entitled to physical custody of the children. This can result in the crazy scenario of the parents “kidnapping” the children back and forth until there is an agreement or “order”. 

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A parent can have sole physical custody, and the other parent gets Indiana Parenting Time Guideline time at a minimum. Additionally, a parent can have sole legal custody; legal custody is who makes decisions about the children’s educational, medical, and religious decisions.

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The parties can share joint physical and legal custody. With joint physical custody, the parents equally divide the time they have with the children on a rotating daily basis, such as 3-2-2-3, or weekly basis, such as week-on, week-off parenting.

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Indiana has moved away from the tender year’s presumption where young children were thought to need to be with their mothers to a gender-neutral standard. A father now is on equal footing to obtain sole legal custody. A father must present evidence to establish it is in the children’s best interests that they get sole physical custody.

A temporary or pendente child custody order is an order the trial court enters after a preliminary hearing indicating who will have physical custody of the children while the divorce case pends and is worked up for trial. The preliminary order stands unless modified by another preliminary order, agreement of the parties or divorce trial and decision by the court as to the initial custody award. 

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Unfortunately, some spouses lie in preliminary or final hearings to try to obtain custody. However, judges who are skilled at judging character can identify an untruthful or distorted testimony, thereby making a child custody order that is truly in the children’s best interests. 

There is no longer any presumption in the law that favors mothers in child custody cases. A father is just as likely to obtain custody as a mother if he identifies and presents the necessary evidence that sole physical custody to a father is in the children’s best interests.

Clearly, at one point in time in the past the legal standards the court was directed to follow by the Divorce and Paternity Acts favored mothers. However, times have changed, and when the court makes the initial custody decision, it does not favor either parent. 

Unfortunately, there is no way to know how much a child-custody battle will cost. A great deal of the answer lies in how hard each party will fight for physical custody. The harder the fight, and the longer it drags on, the more it will cost. 

There is no rule that allows a party to change a venue (county) for a case unless the parties agree. However, at certain points in the beginning of a case or after the divorce has been decided, they may have the ability to change judge.

At one time, the law favored mother’s having custody of younger children under the law called the “tender-years presumption”. Now, the standard is gender neutral, and fathers are on equal footing with mothers in custody disputes. 

In all litigation, each side pays their own legal fees. However, under the Divorce and Paternity Acts a court may order legal fees if there is a large disparity in income between the parties. 

If you think your relationship has broken down with your counsel, you should discuss your concerns with your counsel about his or her representation. If after this conversation, you are not satisfied your counsel can handle the case the way you desire and direct, you should “fire” your counsel as soon as possible as successor counsel will have to relearn your case from the beginning.

Yes. If you do not appear on time at your trial, the judge may proceed without you and only hear one side of the evidence, awarding the appearing parent child custody. In such a case, you should retain counsel to try to set aside this default judgment against you.

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Fathers have the same child custody and parenting time (formerly known as “visitation”) rights as mothers do. The key is to present to the court, as a father, what you propose for custody and parenting time and why it is in the children’s best interests.

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In a child custody battle, your case needs a theme as to why you should obtain custody in the child’s best interests. With this theme, you develop the evidence to support your theme and desired child custody outcome.

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Under the Indiana Parent Time Guidelines, the custodial parent is responsible for getting the child to go to parenting time. With teenagers, this may take a serious discussion as they would probably prefer to be with their friends rather than either parent. Failure to get the child to go to parenting time may result in a contempt being filed by the non-custodial parent.

If you choose a child custody attorney who limits his or her practice to domestic relations, the more trial experience he or she has in developing the evidence to help you attain your custody goals. In addition, a very seasoned domestic lawyer has had about every curve ball possible thrown at him or her in trial and can respond to about anything that comes up in a custody trial and avoid it hurting your case. 

Over time, a series of subtle events that amount to a substantial change may occur that could be helpful for your custody case. However, the fine details, dates and time will be forgotten over time. The key is to keep a journal and write out what happened that was not in the child’s best interests, with the time and date of the entry. This can be used at trial in a variety of ways, such as to refresh your recollection. This evidence can make your case. 

With joint physical custody, the major decision for the court is to first have credible evidence that the parents want to and will make joint custody work. The second consideration the court must have presented in the evidence is what schedule will work in children’s best interests. 

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