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How does Indiana law address child custody in a divorce?

| Oct 6, 2020 | Child Custody & Parenting Time |

Most parents in Indiana going through a divorce may be concerned with their child’s well-being. In addition, they may worry about how much time they will get to spend with their child post-divorce. Thus, child custody and visitation may be the most pressing issue they face in the divorce process.

What are my child custody options in Indiana?

First, it is important to understand the difference between legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody gives parents the right to make key life decisions regarding the child, such as where the child will go to school, what religions the child will participate in and what health care the child will receive. Legal custody can be joint, meaning both parents share it, or it can be sole, meaning one parent alone retains these rights.

Second, there is physical custody. This refers to where the child resides on a day to day basis. Like legal custody, physical custody can be sole or joint. If one parent has sole physical custody, the other parent will generally have visitation rights. It is important to note that even if parents share joint physical custody, this does not necessarily mean the child will spend 50% of their time with each parent.

Child custody and the best interests of the child

It is important to note that Indiana law does not presume that one parent is automatically better suited than the other to have primary custody of the child. Instead, child custody decisions are based on the best interests of the child.

Some factors the court will consider when determining the child’s best interests include the child’s wishes, the child’s relationship with each parent, both the parents’ and the child’s physical and mental health and the child’s ability to adjust to their school, home and community. This list is not all-exhaustive; there are other factors the court will consider as well.

Prioritize the child’s needs in a divorce

Divorce can be difficult for children to cope with. Parents going through a divorce should put the child’s needs before their own when making child custody decisions. With the right help, decisions can be reached that will help the child thrive post-divorce.