Child Custody

Child custody is a legal process that occurs at the time of divorce and later if modification occurs. The child custody agreement outlines which parent(s) can make decisions about the child’s education, medical needs, and religious practices. The child custody agreement also outlines the amount of time that the child(s) will spend with each parent, known as visitation rights. Child custody laws focus on an evaluation of the “best interests” of the child(s), including among other factors:

  • Parents’ physical health, mental health, lifestyle habits, decision making capacity, neglect or abuse risks.
  • Parent’s ability to perform daily living skills that provide the child with food, clothing, shelter, educational support, emotional support, and medical care.
  • Continuity in the child(s) living quarters, school, religious organization, community and social activities.  Quality of these factors is also considered in the evaluation of child custody.
  • Child’s preference depending on the child’s age.

Child custody laws vary among the states such as noted below in Variances in Custodial Law for Indiana. Child custody may involve physical and legal custody rights. The child custody agreement may also include a spousal support agreement to determine the financial obligation of each parent to the child or children.

Variances in Custodial Law for Indiana

De Facto Custodian

Indiana law has a provision for a De Facto Custodian in which a non-custodial adult who provides substantial ongoing care to a child in the custody of another may file for custodial rights. The court will examine the evidence that the non-custodial person has to demonstrate their provision of care and financial support to the child. The court will evaluate the circumstances surrounding the custodial parent and identify the “best interests” of the child.

Relocation Law

Indiana law requires a parent who is moving to provide a Notice to Move and a proposed parenting plan to other parent before the move. The parent who is not moving has the right to object to the move. If a parent files an objection, a hearing is set to determine the “best interests” of the child. The parent that is not moving also has the right to obtain a Restraining Order which forbids the move until the time of a hearing.

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