Indiana Indiana

Child Custody Law

Child Custody General Information - What Is Child Custody?

Child custody is defined as the guardianship over a child, which covers both physical custody and legal custody. In a child custody dispute the court may award joint custody to both parents or sole custody to a single parent.

Child custody cases in Indiana can be either contested and resolved by court order, or noncontested and defined in a child custody agreement between the parents. A custody agreement or order will legally determine, at minimum, the following things:

  • Where the child lives (physical custody)
  • Who is involved in making parenting decisions (legal custody)
  • How the visitation schedule with non-custodial parents or relatives is arranged

This page describes how a contested child custody case is handled in the Indiana court system, and what factors are used to determine which parent gets custody.

Indiana Child Custody Law Summary

After a breakup or divorce in Indiana, couples with children must come to a child custody agreement that describes which parent the children will live with, how visitation will be scheduled, and how the non-custodial parent will pay child support.

Some of the factors considered by Indiana in child custody cases include the child's wishes and any history of domestic violence.

Which Factors are Considered in Granting Custody?

The court shall consider the following in granting joint custody of a child:

  • the fitness and suitability of each of the persons awarded joint custody

  • whether the persons awarded joint custody are willing to cooperate in caring for the child

  • the wishes of the child (more consideration if the child is at least 14 years of age)

  • whether the child has a close relationship with both persons granted joint custody

  • whether the persons granted joint custody live close to each other and plan to continue to do so

  • the nature of the physical and emotional environment in the home of each of the persons awarded joint custody.

In determining whether granting joint legal custody would be in the best interest of the child, the court considers primary (but not determinative) importance that the persons awarded joint custody have agreed to joint legal custody.

Evidence that the child has been cared for by a de facto custodian, and if the evidence is sufficient, the court shall consider the factors in deciding custody.

The court will also determine custody in accordance to the best interests of the child.

The court will also determine custody through the interaction of the child with:

  • the child’s parent or parents

  • the child’s sibling

  • any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests.

Indiana Child Custody Factors - How Is Child Custody Decided In Indiana?

If the parents are on amicable terms they may agree to custody terms in a parenting agreement between themselves, or via a mediator. If child custody is disputed, however, they will have to receive a child custody order from a Indiana judge, who will attempt to make a custody decision that is in the "best interests of the child".

In the state of Indiana, a number of factors are taken into account by the courts when determining who gets child custody. This section describes Indiana's custody factors, considerations, and presumptions when evaluating a custody order.

Is there a set list of statutory factors for calculating child custody in the state of Indiana?

Indiana has a list of statutory factors that are considered by the court when determining a custody order. This list may include factors such as the child's age, the living situation of each parent, any history of abuse or neglect from either parent, etc. Although there is a statutory list of factors, consider other factors at its discretion depending on the particular circumstances of the case.

Do judges in the state of Indiana favor joint custody?

Judges in Indiana are authorized to order either joint or single-parent custody of a child subject to a custody dispute.

Courts in Indiana do not have a presumption in favor joint custody orders when evaluating child custody. The judge will evaluate the specifics of the custody dispute to determine what custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child.

Do Indiana courts encourage parents to cooperate together to raise the child?

It is not particularly encouraged that the parents cooperative together to raise the child.

Are the child's wishes considered when determining custody in the state of Indiana?

In Indiana, the court does consider the child's reasonable wishes when determining which parent wins custody. The judge may take the child's age, maturity, and judgement into consideration when considering the child's custody preference.

Do Indiana courts consider domestic violence when determining custody?

Indiana has laws that explicitly permit the consideration of domestic violence in conjunction with child custody. This may mean that domestic violence is a statutory factor in custody determinations, that the court has a presumption against custody for abusers, or that special procedural considerations are imposed in cases involving domestic violence.

Do the courts in the state of Indiana have the right to hire an attorney or Guardian Ad Litem to represent the child?

Indiana has statutory authority for appointment of a guardian ad litem or attorney specifically to represent the child in a custody case. This person advocates for the best interest of the child, and is tasked with investigating the family situation and advising the court what custody situation would be in the best interests of the child.

| State Law Official Text

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