Child custody is often the stickiest issue in family law cases. The custody determination impacts both parents in very personal ways. If you are facing a divorce or paternity lawsuit, you probably share some of these concerns:
If these areas of concern resound in your heart, you are not alone. As attorneys, we hear statements like these in most cases. In Indiana, the laws require the court to evaluate several different factors when resolving child custody issues. But in all cases, the underlying motive is to determine best interests of the child. This article provides a brief overview of the custody laws and how they work.
The first problem with Indiana cases is the misuse, or varying uses, of the term “custody.” Most clients believe that the term “legal custody” equates to “who gets the kids.” But that simply isn’t the case. Most cases result in parents having “joint legal custody,” and that has little to do with who gets the kids. In fact, Ind. Code §13-17-2-14 specifically states that an award of joint legal custody under section 13 of this chapter does not require an equal division of physical custody of the child. So what is “legal custody?” According to Ind. Code §13-17-2-17 legal custody gives a parent the right to “determine the child’s upbringing, including the child’s education, health care, and religious training.”
For the courts award joint legal custody, they must first determine that it is in the best interest of your child. In doing so, they may also consider the following factors:
As you can see, Indiana’s custody statutes assign a different meaning to the terms “legal custody” and “physical custody.” So what factors go into determining who gets physical custody-does the law favor the mother? Indiana’s statutes suggest not. Ind. Code §31-17-2-8 specifically states that there is no presumption favoring either parent.
As with legal custody, the courts are to consider: (1) the best interests of the child as the primary goal, and (b) a list of factors in determining physical custody, or parenting time. These factors include:
The parties are encouraged by Indiana Law to come to their own agreement on proper parenting time, based upon the unique situation of their particular family.
If you’re facing a child custody battle and need advice or representation, contact the Law Office of Thomas E. Scifres, P.C. I want to work with you toward the most sensible result that ensures the well-being of your child.
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