Who gets child custody in divorce in Indiana?

Attorney Lanae Harden offers information on what the courts in Indiana look for when determining child custody in a divorce.

The best interests of the child is the standard by which any order of child custody is determined. If the parties agree, the court will order joint custody. Even if only one parent wants joint custody, the court may award it if the court thinks it would be in the child’s best interests.

The court can consider many factors, including:

  • whether the persons have agreed to joint custody;
  • the fitness and suitability of each of the persons;
  • whether the persons are willing and able to communicate and cooperate in advancing the child’s welfare;
  • the wishes of the child (with more weight given to the child’s wishes if the child is at least 14 years old);
  • geographical proximity of the parents’ homes; and
  • the physical and emotional environment in each home.

By definition, legal custody is the decision making control over a child. The legal custodian(s) have control in decisions of healthcare, religion, and education. The parties can agree to any other type of decision making control. Some examples of other types of decision making control in the child’s life include the participation in extracurricular activities, dating age, summer camps, age for getting a job, or methods of discipline for the child.

Physical custody is simply where the child lives or spends his or her time. The child may have a primary physical custodian, which is just where the child lives most of the time.

Physical custody may be shared between parents who do not live together through parenting time. Indiana has created minimum parenting time guidelines, but they are only a starting point. Once again, the parties may agree to whatever parenting time schedules work best for them and their children.

Joint custody does not mean each parent will have the child one half of the time. The court can order joint legal custody, and then decide how much time each parent will have the child.

Remember, these suggestions are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation. 

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