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How Indiana determines child custody

On Behalf of | Jun 26, 2020 | Child Custody

Indiana law presumes that both parents have a legal right to time with their minor children, as well as a responsibility to support children financially. Divorcing spouses can make a parenting plan that fits their needs or ask the court to do so if they cannot agree. 

If you are facing a divorce and you live in Indiana, explore the factors the courts use to determine a fair custody arrangement. 

Types of custody in Indiana 

When parents desire equal time with their children, they can arrange for shared physical custody. Alternatively, one parent can have primary physical custody while the other has a regular parenting time schedule. In both cases, parents may share legal custody. This type of custody gives parents the legal right to make important decisions for their child, such as where he or she will go to school, attend religious services and receive medical care. 

The best interest custody standard 

When parents do not agree to share physical custody and cannot reach an agreement about parenting time, the court will determine the custody arrangement that serves the child’s best interests. Among other factors, the judge will consider: 

  • The child’s wishes if he or she is at least 14 years old 
  • The physical and mental health status of the child and both parents 
  • How well the child has adjusted to his or her current community, school and home 
  • The relationship the child has with each parent, siblings and other family members 
  • Each parent’s wishes for custody 

The custody determination process 

Based on the above considerations, the judge may award either joint or sole custody. Parents receive visitation only when the court determines that a relationship with that parent supports the child’s best interests. When visitation may put the child at risk, the judge can order supervised visitation. 

If you and your spouse cannot agree on custody, the court may order alternative dispute resolution such as mediation. Otherwise, you will both attend a hearing where you can present evidence to support your custody case.