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Child Custody

Is there anything more important in your life than your child? Is your child why you work so hard? Is there anyone you think about more? If you live in Indiana and are involved in a child custody dispute Church, Langdon, Lopp, Banet Law can protect your rights and work to make sure the best interests of your child are served.

What are Indiana child custody rights?

Child custody involves rights a parent has to make decisions concerning his or her child

  • Legal custody involves the ability to make important, long-term decisions about the child, including education and health care.
  • Physical custody covers the ability to make practical, daily decisions that come when a child lives with a parent.
  • Most often parents share custody, though one parent will probably be considered the custodial parent, which means most of the child’s time will be spent with that parent, while the other parent is considered a noncustodial parent.

Child custody disputes are often part of the divorce process, and linger long after a divorce has been finalized or may involve parents who never married. Normally it’s a good idea for a parent to be flexible and cooperate with the other parent because, generally, the law favors child custody arrangements that involve both parents. Joint custody is common, but not always the case. If one parent has serious problems, the other parent should have custody with the noncustodial parent having only a right to visit the child.

Courts decide child custody issues based on what the judge sees as being what is in the child’s best interests. Most custody disputes are decided through an agreement between the parents. If they can’t agree, it will be up to a judge to decide the issue. This can involve testimony by parents, family members and expert witnesses who are child psychologists. Litigating child custody disputes can be highly emotional, time consuming and expensive, all good reasons why these disputes are most often resolved by agreements.

Custody agreements and orders often include these elements:

  • Set schedules as to how much time or days of the week each parent has with the child, which holidays will be spent with which parent, with whom summers or school vacations will be spent
  • Decisions about education, extracurricular activities, transportation, and moreA mechanism by which parents can try to work out future disagreements.

How are Indiana child custody disputes resolved?

When disputes arise, neither parent has more rights than the other. The rights that should always be considered first and foremost are those of the child. In determining custody, the courts and attorneys often refer to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. They were created by the Indiana Supreme Court and are updated periodically to reflect societal changes in parenting norms.

Parents are always free to agree on different arrangements and schedules, but if agreement isn’t made, the courts will fall back to the Guidelines.

There are things that you can do to help or harm your chances of getting the custody rights you want.

  • Being flexible, open and cooperative as much as possible when it comes to your child’s relationship with the other parent will be viewed positively by a judge.
  • Trying to play your child against the other parent, saying negative things about him or her, manipulating your child as a pawn in this dispute (known as parental alienation) are sure ways to get a judge to view you very negatively and will likely impact a custody order. If you feel anger or bitterness toward the other parent, don’t vent it around your child or let it impact his or her relationship with the person.

A custody agreement, when approved by a judge, becomes part of a court order. If the situation changes, an order can and should be modified if circumstances affecting the children change significantly. In these situations a parent may…

  • Want to move far from the other parent and take the child with them.
  • Suffer from serious physical or psychiatric issues.
  • Have been convicted of a crime.
  • Suffer from substance abuse.
  • In some way have demonstrated a serious problem that impacts the person’s relationship with the child.

Just as with the original custody order, if changes can’t be negotiated between the parents, it’s up to a judge to decide to keep the original order as is or to make changes, based on the child’s best interests.

Church, Langdon, Lopp, Banet Law can help you with an Indiana child custody issue

Whether you are divorcing, ending a relationship with the child’s other parent or wanting to enforce or modify a current custody order, you need help navigating the legal system. We are in that system every day and are ready to help you and your child. We proudly serve communities throughout Kentucky and Indiana, including, but not limited to, Jefferson County, KY; Floyd County, IN; Clark County, IN; and Harrison County, IN. Contact us by calling (812) 725-8224 or using our online form today.

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