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Indianapolis Family Law Blog

Important questions the court asks about child custody

If you end up in divorce court, with a judge determining how custody of your children should get divided between you and your ex, the judge is going to ask a number of questions to better evaluate the situation. The judicial preference is for shared custody between you and your ex, but they still have to decide if that is really best in your unique case.

Additionally, shared custody does not mean a 50/50 split in all cases. Even when the court knows that you will share parenting time with your ex, they still have to ask some questions to figure out exactly what that split will look like. A few examples of questions they may ask include:

  • Are there any claims of and/or evidence of abuse?
  • Does either one of the parents struggle with drug or alcohol addiction?
  • Is the home environment safe for a child?
  • Does the child have a preference or a request?
  • Have you or your ex been acting as the primary caretaker?
  • What does your physical health look like? What about your mental health?
  • How old is the child?
  • Is the extended family involved and what role do they play?
  • Where does the child go to school and how can the custody arrangement keep them in that school?

After divorce, children need support and routine

Parents often try to think about what their children need most after a divorce. Do they need less focus on rules and more fun time? Do they need more time with friends? Should they get them some of the things they have been clambering for, like the newest gaming system?

The idea behind these thoughts is simple: Divorce is hard. It's stressful. Parents just want to know what they can do to reduce that stress and make life go smoothly for their children.

You can often find hidden assets

Worried that your spouse has decided to hide assets so that you will not get what you deserve during the divorce? It does happen, despite being illegal. The good news is that you can often find these assets. Many of the schemes are quite transparent or count on people not looking closely enough.

For instance, some people will take out small amounts of money for years on end. Every time they go to the grocery store, they may get cash back. They can then set the money aside. A spouse who doesn't dig into the financial records may not realize the money is missing, but all of those transactions are on your electronic bank statements. You can trace that money or at least see that it is "missing."

Why would you modify a child custody arrangement?

The child custody arrangement that the court helps you set up when you get divorced is based on the facts of the case at that time. If those facts change, you may need to ask for an alteration later on.

For instance, maybe you got a job offer and you want to relocate. You can't keep the same schedule from your new location. You need to talk to the court and get permission to move and to change the agreement so that you do not violate your ex's rights.

Opinions on same-sex marriage flipped in just 15 years

In the last decade and a half, Americans have completely changed the way that they look at same-sex marriage. Their opinions on it totally flipped in the past 15 years.

Per the Pew Research Center, 60% of Americans were against same-sex marriage back in 2004, while just 31% said they were for it. By 2019, a similar study found that 31% were now against it, but a massive 61% supported it.

Are you and your spouse growing apart?

One common reason for a divorce is simply that two people grow apart over time. The relationship seems to fizzle out and die. Neither one of them can point to a certain event -- a missed anniversary, a string of questionable text messages to a co-worker -- that brought on the divorce, but they still know that's where they're headed.

There are a few ways that you can know if this is happening to you. Some signs include:

  • The physical intimacy leaves the relationship.
  • You would prefer to be on your own or with friends, rather than with your spouse -- even when you're just watching TV or getting dinner.
  • It seems like every conversation turns into at least a minor argument.
  • You stop doing anything new and fun together, instead falling into a rut of the same old activities.
  • You stop asking each other how you're doing or how the day went
  • Your spouse seems like someone who is not there to support you, but to criticize your decisions.
  • When things do go wrong, you just feel like you don't care. You're apathetic. You know your spouse is mad and that's fine with you.
  • Communication breaks down or stops. You don't know how to talk to each other. Eventually, you stop trying.
  • Trust also breaks down. You start wondering if your spouse is actually being honest. When they're out, you wonder who they're with.

Don't do this if your child wants to live with your ex

You got custody in the divorce, and your child lives with you most of the time. Your ex is still around, though, and the child lives with them every other weekend.

You think it's going well, but then your child says they want to live with your ex far more often. Emotionally, it's quite a blow. It's tough news to hear. As you work through it, talking with your ex and your child to decide if it's time to get the custody arrangement legally changed in court, here are a few things you should not do:

  • Do not get angry. You may feel angry and hurt, and that's understandable. But having an angry argument about it does not help.
  • Do not ignore it. Don't hope that your child will just give up on the idea or forget about it. Communication is key.
  • Do not start badmouthing your ex. Don't insult them in anger or to change your child's mind. Remember that you are both the child's parents, and you always will be.
  • Don't refuse to even bring it up with your ex. It may be hard for you to admit it or bring it up, but they need to be involved too.

You can take a team approach to divorce

People often think of divorce as a battle, with one spouse set against the other. While this may happen, it does not have to be that way. You can take a team approach.

In fact, if you have children, many experts believe that a team approach is the best option. You and your spouse can admit that you are both unhappy. You can acknowledge that you need some sort of change. You can then work together to find a solution that puts your children first, rather than yourselves.

Changed circumstances may lead to child support modifications

When the court sets up your child support obligations during a divorce, they look at all of your current financial information. This generally just means how much you earn, how much you owe, what other obligations you have and things of this nature.

However, your child support payments could last for a decade or more. Is your financial situation going to look the same in five or 10 years? Are the payments going to be affordable?

When co-parenting, don't compete with each other

Divorced parents often feel an inclination to compete with one another. You want your child to love you more than your ex. Or, at least, you want them to prefer you. When it's time in the custody schedule for your child to leave your ex's house and come to your house, you want them to be excited. On top of that, you want them to be disappointed to leave.

This feeling may be natural, but it is not wise for parents to compete and attempt to be the "best" or the favorite. You have to put your child's best interests first, and competing with your ex often does the opposite.