What Should I Know About Child Custody in Indiana?

What Should I Know About Child Custody in Indiana?

Child custody determinations are made by the court in divorce and paternity proceedings when the parties cannot reach an agreement on their own. In both cases, the courts in Indiana prefer that the parties create their own custody and parenting time plans and provide the Indiana Child Support Rules and Guidelines from which they can start when negotiating the various issues involved in custody and parenting time. This blog explores child custody and related statutes for what you should know about child custody.

The statute governing child custody provides that the court will determine custody based on the best interests of the child and there shall be no presumption in favor of either parent. The statute further provides that the factors the court will consider when determining the best interests of the child include: “(1) The age and sex of the child. (2) The wishes of the child's parent or parents. (3) The wishes of the child, with more consideration given to the child's wishes if the child is at least fourteen (14) years of age. (4) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with: (A) the child's parent or parents; (B) the child's sibling; and (C) any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests. (5) The child's adjustment to the child's: (A) home; (B) school; and (C) community. (6) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved. (7) Evidence of a pattern of domestic or family violence by either parent.”

A parent not granted custody rights shall have reasonable parenting time unless the court finds that parenting time would physically endanger the child or impair their emotional development. The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines were designed to assist parents when negotiating custody and parenting time and also provide for the minimum time that a parent should have to maintain a relationship with the child in the absence of an agreement between the parties resulting in court ordered custody and parenting time arrangements.

Aside from physical custody, Indiana also recognizes another type of custody, referred to as “legal custody.” Legal custody is the right to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, such as education, healthcare, and religious training. Unless a court determines otherwise, the custodial parent has the right to make these decisions. Joint legal custody may be awarded if the court finds it to be in the best interests of the child, but only after considering the following factors “(1) the fitness and suitability of each of the persons awarded joint custody; (2) whether the persons awarded joint custody are willing and able to communicate and cooperate in advancing the child's welfare; (3) the wishes of the child, with more consideration given to the child's wishes if the child is at least fourteen (14) years of age; (4) whether the child has established a close and beneficial relationship with both of the persons awarded joint custody; (5) whether the persons awarded joint custody: (A) live in close proximity to each other; and (B) plan to continue to do so; and (6) the nature of the physical and emotional environment in the home of each of the persons awarded joint custody.”

While there is no joint physical custody in Indiana, there are custody agreements and court awards granting the non-custodial parent an equal amount of parenting time as the custodial parent. This is commonly referred to as shared custody. These arrangements can be very different for each family and the specifics depend on all of the parties wishes, the parents and the child’s schedules, and how closely the parents live to one another. Shared custody is most often an arrangement agreed to by the parents, as when custody disputes are brought in front of the court, the parents are generally not likely to be able to work together in a shared custody arrangement.

Whatever custody and parenting time arrangement you are seeking, cooperation is the key. It is not only necessary when attempting to convince a court to rule in your favor or when working out an agreement with your child’s other parent, but when raising your child once an agreement is reached or an order issued.

If you are involved in a child custody case, the experienced attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. can help you protect your rights. 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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