Steps to Request a Custody Modification in Indiana

Many times after an original custody determination has been made, one or both parents may wish to request a modification of the custody order. Children growing older and changing circumstances can make an old custody order unworkable and no longer in the child’s best interests. This blog discusses the steps to request a custody modification. 

Before filing for a child custody modification, you should review Indiana’s custody modification statute to ensure that your situation qualifies for a modification. The standard for a custody order modification may be more difficult to meet than that required for an original custody determination. First, when making an original custody decision, there is no presumption in favor of either parent, but a custody modification favors the parent who is currently the primary custodian. While the court will consider that same factors when determining custody as it does when determining whether to grant a custody modification, before it will even consider the factors or a modification, it must first determine that there has been a substantial change in one or more of the factors (I.C. 31-17-2-21). 

Once you have verified that your circumstances qualify you to request a custody modification, the next step is to complete and file the correct forms for requesting a change of custody in the court that originally issued the custody order. The Indiana Bar Foundation provides forms along with instructions for modifying custody when the parties do not agree on the changes that should be made. The forms should be completed with precise and accurate information, while being as brief as possible. For information or assistance filing your completed forms, contact the court clerk

After filing your request for a custody modification, you will need to prepare for the custody hearing. This is the point at which you should seriously consider hiring an attorney. No matter how much evidence you have to support your arguments, there are many rules and procedures that must be followed in order for evidence to be found admissible in court. First, the evidence must be relevant, which means that it has the tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence and the fact is of consequence when determining the action (R. Evid. 401). Sometimes even relevant evidence may be excluded on the grounds that it confuses the issues or is cumulative of other evidence presented (R. Evid. 403). Witnesses may also not be required to answer questions about events or issues about which they lack personal knowledge (R. Evid. 602), concerning their religious opinions or beliefs (R. Evid. 610), privileged communications (R. Evid. 501, 502), or what they heard someone else say (R. Evid. 802). In order to prevent the other party’s attorney from asking inappropriate questions, you must object to the question at the time it is asked and state the legal grounds for your objection. Conversely, if the other party’s attorney objects to a question you ask of a witness, you will need to be prepared with a legally sound response if you wish to attempt to get the question in. 

Without an attorney, you may also need to prepare and send subpoenas, issue and respond to discovery requests, make legal arguments, and file and reply to motions yourself. While doing this, the court will hold you to the same standard that it does attorneys, which can put you at a real disadvantage. If your child’s other parent has an attorney, your case is complex, or you are unsure if you will be able to learn the necessary rules of procedure and evidence, conduct legal research, or meet any required deadlines, it is not a good idea to represent yourself. This is especially true as there are children involved who can be harmed by the courts custody determination. You might also have a very limited amount of time in which to prepare for the hearing, as custody proceedings are given priority when being set for hearing (I.C. 31-17-2-6). Most family law attorneys will work with you on payment arrangements, and when it comes to doing what is best for your children, you may want to go ahead and spend the money. 

The experienced attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. can guide you through the steps to request a custody modification and help ensure that both you and your child’s rights are protected throughout the process. 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.


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