Disagreements over child rearing issues are oftentimes the main reason divorcing spouses or separating parents cannot reach a custody agreement or find themselves back in court once a custody order has been issued. Many of these disputes can be resolved without intervention of the court, or before any controversy even arises. This blog explores navigating child custody disputes in Indianapolis and how to settle issues outside of court.
The first thing that parents who may be separating should do is to become familiar with the child custody and parenting time statutes. These statutes govern how the court makes custody determinations and decisions about whether a parent should have unsupervised, supervised, or no parenting time. Indiana’s custody order statute provides that there shall be no presumption in favor of either parent and that custody will be awarded based on the best interests of the child. It then lists several factors that the court must consider, in addition to any other relevant factor, when determining the best interests of the child. These factors include, but are not limited to, the child’s age and sex, interaction and interrelationship with their parent, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests, adjustment to their home, school, and community, the mental and physical health of everyone involved, and evidence of a pattern of domestic violence or that the child has been cared for by a de facto custodian (I.C. 31-17-2-8).
A party not granted custody of the child is entitled to reasonable parenting time, unless the court finds, after a hearing, that it would significantly impair the child’s emotional development or endanger their physical health (I.C. 31-17-4-1). If a non-custodial parent has been convicted of a crime involving family or domestic violence that was witnessed or heard by the child, there is a rebuttable presumption that the parent’s parenting time should be supervised for one to two years following the crime or until the child is emancipated, whichever happens first (I.C. 31-17-2-8.3). A parent who overcomes the presumption may be required to complete a batterer's intervention program certified by the Indiana coalition against domestic violence as a condition of being granted unsupervised parenting time (I.C. 31-17-2-8.3(c)).
Once custody has been agreed upon or ordered by the court, the majority of disputes can be resolved by keeping your child’s best interests in mind to exercise common sense and use your communication skills in interactions with your child’s other parent, as well as consulting the parenting time guidelines for recommendations on dispute resolution. The guidelines were created by the Domestic Relations Committee of the Judicial Conference of Indiana (Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines). The purpose of the guidelines is to assist parents, attorneys, and courts in creating parenting time plans which are in the child’s best interest and to help parents resolve custody and parenting time conflicts on their own. In order to prevent conflict before it arises, the guidelines recommend that parents create a yearlong parenting time calendar including parenting time schedules, birthdays, holidays, and any agreements the parties have made to deviate from the guidelines (Ind. Par. Time. Guid. Pmbl. Comm. (B)(3)). Calendar templates are provided by the Indiana Courts.
The parenting time guidelines cover matters of potential conflict such as communication between the child and the parent not currently exercising parenting time (Ind. Par. Time. Guid. I(A)), transportation responsibilities and exchange of the children (Ind. Par. Time. Guid. I(B)(1)), provision and care of the child’s clothing (Ind. Par. Time. Guid. I(B)(1)), changes in scheduled parenting time (Ind. Par. Time. Guid. I(C)(1)), additional parenting time (Ind. Par. Time. Guid. I(C)(4)), make-up time (Ind. Par. Time. Guid. I(C)(2)), exchange of information concerning the child’s school, activities, and healthcare, and health insurance (Ind. Par. Time. Guid. I(D)), child hesitation to visit with the other parent (Ind. Par. Time. Guid. I(E)(3)), and holiday schedules (Ind. Par. Time. Guid. II(F)). Many of these provisions can help prevent or resolve a large number of child custody disputes without involvement of the court.
Navigating child custody disputes in Indianapolis, however, can be difficult and if you have attempted to work with your child’s other parent, to no avail, the experienced attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. can help. This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. It is for general educational purposes. The blog is not intended to be relied upon for any legal matter or issue. The blog is not legal advice. This is an advertisement.