INDIANA CHILD CUSTODY ATTORNEYS
The most precious asset any of us have in our lives is our children. Our attorneys are experienced with custody battles. When dealing with these kinds of cases, you need an attorney who not only knows the law, but is able to understand the importance of the moment to you. We represent clients in original custody actions whether that is in the initial divorce, a paternity, or a custody modification.
What does Custody mean in Indiana?
There are two types of “custody” in Indiana. There is physical custody, which is where the child lives or spends the majority of their time. Most of the time there will be one parent who has “Primary Physical Custody”. However, just because someone has physical custody, it’s important to note that it will be subject to the other parent’s parenting time of the other parent. There are also times where the parties will have “Joint Physical Custody”. Our attorneys have experience obtaining Primary Physical Custody and Joint Physical Custody for parents. We strive to understand our client’s goals, and to take the steps necessary to best represent them in Court to obtain what is in the best interests of the child. There is obviously a lot of evidence that can be presented to show what is in the best interests of the child. This might include things like photographic or video evidence, live courtroom testimony from family members or other witnesses, custody evaluations, guardian ad litem reports, and much more.In determining custody, courts look to the best interest of the child. In doing so, they consider the following nine (9) factors: (1) The age and sex of the child; (2) The wishes of the child’s parent or parents; (3) The wishes of the child, with more consideration given to the child’s wishes if the child is at least fourteen (14) years of age; (4) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child’s parent(s), the child’s sibling(s) and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest; (5) The child’s adjustment to the child’s home, school, and community; (6) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved; (7) Evidence of a pattern of domestic or family violence by either parent; (8) Care by a de facto custodian; and (9) All other relevant factors.
The other type of custody is Legal Custody. Legal custody deals with the ability to make major life decisions for or on behalf of the child. This might include things like religion, healthcare, school, counseling, etc. We find that most commonly, where parents are able to work together and communicate, the Court will often grant Joint Legal Custody. However, there are certainly times, where the Court will find it to be inappropriate. This might include situations where one parent lives very far away, or there is an inability for the parents to effectively communicate. Ultimately it will come down to what is in the best interests of the child.
In the event the Court does award primary physical custody to one parent over the other, there will likely still be parenting time for the other parent. Long gone are the days where Mom always gets primary custody, because she is mom; or dad only gets every other weekend. Of course those things still happen from time to time, but they are in no way required by law. When determining parenting time, the Court’s will consider a number of factors, with again the idea being that the parenting time schedule should be in the best interests of the child. The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines exist and can be found at: https://www.in.gov/judiciary/rules/parenting/ . These are simply guidelines, and are not requirements. A court can issue these, or the parties can agree to them, however a Court can order something other than the Parenting Time Guidelines, and parties can also agree to something outside of the Parenting Time Guidelines.
Supervised Parenting Time
There may be times where supervised parenting time is appropriate. We have successfully represented clients in making sure there is supervised parenting time, during parenting time visits. We have also successfully terminated parenting time, subject to future court orders as well. This is typically done when a Court makes a finding that the parent is and maintains a present danger to the minor children, and as such supervised parenting time is appropriate. As you can tell, that is a very high standard, and it’s important to realize that this happens in the worst of situations and is not appropriate for most cases.
Holiday Parenting Time
Another hot topic for parents is Holiday Parenting Time Schedules. Below is the standard Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines for Holidays. Non-Custodial is typically the parent who does not have primary physical custody, unless your Court Order, Agreement, Agreed Entry, or Decree state otherwise.
Mother’s Day Weekend. With the child’s mother from Friday at 6:00 P.M. until Sunday at 6:00 P.M.
Father’s Day Weekend. With the child’s father from Friday at 6:00 P.M. until Sunday at 6:00 P.M.
Child’s Birthday. In even numbered years the non-custodial parent shall have all of the children on each child’s birthday from 9:00 A.M. until 9:00 P.M. However, if the birthday falls on a school day, then from 5:00 P.M. until 8:00 P.M.
In odd numbered years the non-custodial parent shall have all of the children on each child’s birthday on the day before the child’s birthday from 9:00 A.M. until 9:00 P.M., however, if such day falls on a school day, then from 5:00 P.M. until 8:00 P.M.
Parent’s Birthday. From 9:00 A.M. until 9:00 P.M. with that parent, however, if the parent’s birthday falls on a school day, then from 5:00 P.M. until 8:00 P.M.
When the child’s birthday falls within a Special Day, Holiday, or Christmas vacation, the child’s birthday shall be celebrated with the parent having the child during that time period.
When the parent’s birthday falls within a Special Day, Holiday or Christmas vacation, the Special Day, Holiday or Christmas vacation takes precedence.
The Christmas vacation shall be defined as beginning on the last day of school and ending the last day before school begins again. Absent agreement of the parties, the first half of the period will begin two hours after the child is released from school. The second half of the period will end at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school begins again.
Each party will receive one half (1/2) of the total days of the Christmas vacation, on an alternating basis as follows:
In even numbered years, the custodial parent shall have the first one half (1/2) of the Christmas vacation and non-custodial parent shall have the second one half (1/2) of the Christmas vacation.
In odd numbered years, the non-custodial parent shall have the first one half (1/2) of the Christmas vacation and custodial parent shall have the second one half (1/2) of the Christmas vacation.
In those years when Christmas does not fall in a parent’s week, that parent shall have the child from Noon to 9:00 P.M. on Christmas Day.
No exchanges under this portion of the rule shall occur after 9:00 p.m. and before 8:00 a.m., absent agreement of the parties.
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day shall not be considered separate holidays under the Parenting Time Guidelines.
The following holidays shall be exercised by the noncustodial parent in even numbered years and the custodial parent in odd numbered years:
 Martin Luther King Day. If observed by the child’s school, from Friday at 6:00 P.M. until Monday at 7:00 P.M.
 Presidents’ Day. If observed by the child’s school, from Friday at 6:00 P.M. until Monday at 7:00 P.M.
 Memorial Day. From Friday at 6:00 P.M. until Monday at 7:00 P.M.
 Labor Day. From Friday at 6:00 P.M. until Monday at 7:00 P.M.
 Thanksgiving. From 6:00 P.M. on Wednesday until 7:00 P.M. on Sunday.
The following holidays shall be exercised by the noncustodial parent in odd numbered years and the custodial parent in even numbered years:
 Spring Break. From two hours after the child is released from school on the child’s last day of school before Spring Break, and ending 7:00 p.m. on the last day before school begins again.
 Easter. From Friday at 6:00 P.M. until Sunday at 7:00 P.M.
 Fourth of July. From 6:00 P.M. on July 3rd until 10:00 A.M. on July 5th.
 Fall Break. From two hours after the child is released from school on the child’s last day of school before Fall Break and ending 7:00 p.m. of the last day before school begins again.
 Halloween. On Halloween evening from 6:00 P.M. until 9:00 P.M. or at such time as coincides with the scheduled time for trick or treating in the community where the non-custodial parent resides.
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