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What Is In Your Child’s Best Interests?

Indiana grants child custody based on a child’s best interests. At Cross Glazier Reed Burroughs, PC, our experienced family law attorneys know how stressful questions around child custody can be for parents. We can guide you through the process and help you understand how it might work for your family.

In many cases, a separating or divorcing couple will try to negotiate an agreement covering custody and parenting time, also known as visitation. The judge will often approve the agreement but must determine that it is in the child’s best interests. If the parents cannot come to a negotiated agreement on matters of custody, the judge alone will make those determinations.

Indiana’s Different Types Of Custody

In a legal proceeding that includes child custody, like a divorce case, the parents and the court must determine the following types of custody:

  • Physical custody – Who will have 182 or more overnights with the child.
  • Visitation – The parenting plan. What overnights will be spend with each parent. Detailing overnights on a calendar is preferred by Indiana courts.
  • Legal custody – Determines who makes medical, religious and schooling decisions for the child if the parents reach an impasse on these decisions.

Physical custody can be joint (roughly, a 50-50 split) or sole with one parent, with the other parent usually having parenting time. Legal custody signifies which parent has decision-making authority. Joint legal custody gives both parents the authority to make decisions regarding the children. This means that they may have to reach an agreement as to major life issues affecting the child, such as religion, health care and education. Many families find that a parenting coordinator can help them learn to work together. Regardless of legal custody, both parents have to be good gatekeepers of information and allow both parents input on decisions before a final decision is made.

What Are The Best Interest Factors?

Indiana law requires the judge to consider particular factors in determining whether joint legal custody is in the child’s best interests, including whether the parents agree to this arrangement and whether they can work together to make decisions that promote the child’s welfare. These laws have been recently updated.

Custody law provides that there is no presumption that either parent would be a better custodial parent. The judge must consider all relevant factors pertaining to what would be in a child’s best interests as to custody. The statutory factors are as follows:

  • Child’s age and gender
  • Parental wishes
  • Child’s wishes, especially if they’re at least age 14
  • Child’s relationships with parents, siblings and other significant people
  • Child’s adjustment to current home, school and community
  • Everyone’s physical and mental health
  • A pattern of parental domestic violence

In certain circumstances, the judge may order a custody investigation and report to assist in ascertaining the child’s best interests. If a “de facto custodian” or third party is filing for custody, the court will consider that person’s history in caring for the child. The law sets out special factors for consideration in these cases.

Contact Us For A Consultation

Our attorneys know how difficult child custody cases can be for everyone involved, and they will always do their best to find a solution that will allow for a strong relationship between you and your child. To schedule a consultation, please call our office in Carmel at 317-669-9134 or fill out our online contact form today.