Child Custody Modification in Indiana
Managing Life’s Changes and Their Effect on Your Family
Life is full of changes. But, you already know that. You’ve been in a relationship, now separated — and maybe even divorced. And, you have been through the process of creating a custody agreement to determine the care for your minor children.
Finalized in family court, child custody agreements are designed to provide for the best interests of your children. But the law recognizes that life is unpredictable and that, over time, the documents may need to be modified in order to meet the changing needs of your child’s life.
If the situation surrounding the decision you initially made with your partner or spouse has changed, you may want to petition for a modification. Working with an experienced child custody lawyer in this situation is wise. The counsel provided by this professional can help you both substantiate the need for a change and accurately request exactly what you need.
At Church, Langdon, Lopp, Banet (CLLB) Law, our child custody modification lawyers can help you through this process. We have extensive experience practicing family law in Indiana and can leverage our knowledge to help you make changes to your agreement and provide your children the care and support they need. Contact us today at 812-725-8224 to schedule a consultation and learn how we can best help you.
Child Custody Agreements and Modifications: An Overview
What Child Custody Agreements Determine
As divorced or separated (in the case of unmarried couples) parents, you have been through all of the relevant legal proceedings. You likely worked with an attorney to develop a child custody plan that protects the best interests of your child or children.
These agreements are not always easily reached. There is often a great deal of animosity between couples who are separating, and their ideas regarding raising their children can be vastly different. Issues including parenting time and child support are often disputed.
In Indiana, modification of child custody agreements are governed under § 31-17-2-21.
Understand, there are two specific aspects of child custody: physical and legal. Physical custody refers to where the children are spending their time, with which parent they are staying on a particular day. It is also referred to as “parenting time.” On the other hand, legal custody is the right to make critical decisions regarding your child’s upbringing, including those concerning education, religion, and healthcare.
In Indiana, shared custody is a reality. However, in most cases, the child will spend more time at one residence. The individual at that residence is referred to as the custodial parent, and the other is the noncustodial parent.
Even in cases where joint physical custody is an impossibility, joint legal custody is commonplace. The courts believe that if it is in the best interests of the child, both parents should have input into how they are raised.
When determining child custody in Indiana, family court judges take a number of things into account. These include, but are not limited to, the relationship between the parents and children, where each parent lives, and even the child’s wishes (for those aged 14 and older).
Child Custody Agreements in Indiana are Legally Binding
Once you sign an agreement regarding child custody and support, the agreement is legally binding. This means that you must abide by its terms, as written. Once a judge signs it, it is also a court order that must be followed.
Your agreement most likely specifically outlines the responsibilities of each parent. It communicates the parenting schedules, including weekends, holidays, and vacations; plans for school and extracurricular activities; and child support payments. It may also provide provisions for dispute resolution.
All of these decisions are made at a unique point in time and protect your child’s best interests under a very specific set of circumstances. But, what do you do if things change?
Child Custody Modifications Are a Reality
Change is commonplace. When relationships end and individuals go their separate ways, life happens. And, children grow up, and their needs evolve, and parental time modifications may be necessary.
Child custody agreements are legally binding, but can also be modified to meet the changing needs of your family.
A significant change in the circumstances of your life, or situations in which your child is in danger, are both causes for a modification of your existing agreement, including parenting time modifications.
If either of these circumstances mirrors your life, you may need to make some changes. When doing this, the assistance of a reputable child custody modification lawyer is incredibly valuable. These professionals understand Indiana family law and are knowledgeable regarding the process; they can help you complete all child custody modification forms. Don’t undertake this alone. Instead, leverage the experience of a seasoned professional at Church, Langdon, Lopp, Banet.
Our Child Custody Modification Lawyers Address Change Head-On
What Are the Reasons to Modify Child Custody?
Child custody modification agreements are common in Indiana and across the country. It is unrealistic to believe that your life, the life of your ex, and those of your children will remain static. As time passes, each parent works on building a new life, and their children grow. Needs change, as do the circumstances of the parents. It’s not bad . . . it’s just different. But it must be addressed.
If there have been material changes to the lives of you, your ex and your child, a judge may grant a modification of your child custody agreement if it is in the best interests of your child. Some reasons for modifications include, but are not limited to:
- Relocation: Both in-state and out of state
- Change in financial capacity: Increase, decrease or termination of child support
- School activities
- Change in parent’s work schedules
- Not abiding by the current custody plan.
Other issues, including domestic or child abuse, substance abuse or even neglect, also make a modification necessary. These issues may require immediate intervention.
How Do I Modify a Custody Agreement in Indiana? Our Attorneys Can Help.
If you believe you have the grounds necessary to modify your child custody agreement and that your requests are in the best interests of your children, the child custody modification attorneys at CLLB can help you effect change.
The first step in the process is to file a petition to modify your custody agreement, which was likely made in accordance with Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. At this point, your ex has two choices:
- Agree to the changes requested in the petition or
- Contest them.
If agreement is impossible, a court hearing may be necessary. During this hearing, we will represent you and help to prove that the modifications you requested are critical for the well-being of your children. As with all custody agreements, the courts in Indiana are primarily concerned with determining what is in the best interests of the child.
Custody Modification Frequently Asked Questions
CLLB Child Custody Lawyers Address Your Concerns
When it comes to child custody agreements and their modifications, there is no shortage of questions. This is not surprising. After all, the structure of your family life and your child’s upbringing is in question.
At CLLB we have a reputation for the personalized service we provide.
We know that family situations are not identical; and, while we leverage our experience, we take the time to ensure that we understand and are responding to the issues of concern for each family individually.
Below, we share some of the most commonly raised concerns and our answers to them.
How hard is it to modify child custody?
The answer to this question depends heavily upon your situation. Are the reasons you wish to make changes to your custody agreement significant and valid? If the changes are made, would your child be in a better position? If the answer to both of these questions is yes, and you work with a seasoned attorney who understands the process in Indiana, making changes would be possible, although you would need to abide by the process as determined by law. Note that if your child’s other parent agrees to the changes, the process is significantly streamlined than if they do not.
When are parenting time modifications necessary?
There are a number of circumstances that would necessitate parenting time modifications. If one parent’s job responsibilities or working hours change, and they conflict with the current parenting plan, adjustments would need to be made. Additionally, changes to the child’s activities that conflict with the current plan could require adjustments to visitation. Also, as children grow, their needs change, and sometimes one parent is in a better position to fulfill them. Finally, there are situations where a parent would need to move out of state or may even be deployed as a member of the armed forces. All of these would make parenting time modifications critical.
Do I need an attorney to modify my child custody agreement?
If you wish to make changes to your child custody agreement, working with a seasoned family attorney is recommended. You will need to prove the validity of your request in court and complete the necessary paperwork. When working with a reputable professional you can rest assured that the required documents are filed and that your position will be argued by an attorney who is well-versed in Indiana law.
When can my child custody agreement be modified?
Child custody can be modified at any time after it is finalized. However, the party requesting the change must be able to prove that there has been a significant change in the circumstances and that the requested modification would be in the best interests of the child.
Where would my modification request be filed?
If you are still living in Indiana, you would file your modification with the court where the agreement was originally signed.
What should I do if I currently live in Indiana, but my child custody agreement was entered into in a different state?
Modifications to out-of-state custody agreements are possible, just a bit more complex. Our firm is well-versed in managing situations like this. In order to move forward, we would need to register a foreign order.
We hope the information provided above answers the questions you had. That said, you may be in need of more specific information. If this is the case, reach out to us to schedule a meeting where we can learn more about you, your family and the changes you wish to make to your agreement. We can then provide answers more tailored to your situation.
CLLB Can Help You Accommodate Your Changing Life
How to Win a Custody Modification Case: Leverage Our Experience and Knowledge
CLLB Law is a firm of seasoned professionals. Our attorneys have been providing families in Indiana personalized legal service for decades.
We have a reputation for providing hands-on, personalized service. Our attorneys listen carefully to our clients, ask important questions and work tirelessly to positively impact the child custody outcomes they desire.
We appreciate that our clients want what is best for their families, and we can use our knowledge and skill to build a strong case for their needs.
Our lawyers have handled countless child custody modification cases. We know what the courts want to see and can not only assist you with the completion of all necessary forms, but also can help you present your case appropriately.
Contact Us Today
When life’s changes necessitate modifications to your child custody agreement, there is no time to waste. You want to have your issues addressed expediently to provide your child the best care possible.
We appreciate the urgency of these requests, and are ready to go to work for you immediately. Contact us today at 812-725-8224 to schedule a consultation, learn more about how we can help you, and begin the process necessary to provide the best lifestyle for your minor children.
Child custody agreements are amendable. The state of Indiana understands that the components of parents’ lives change, as do the needs of their children. A skilled family law attorney at CLLB can help modify your original arrangement to match your family’s current needs.