Serving Indiana Since 1994

Can you modify a child custody order as the child grows older?

On Behalf of | May 24, 2023 | Child Custody & Parenting Time

Children go through different stages of childhood. Parents witness their kids grow from a toddler to a preschooler, and not long after, they would have themselves a teenager. Throughout these various stages of childhood, each child would have different needs, which changes as the child grows older.

Because of these changes, child custody orders will not always be applicable in every stage of a child’s life. This is why courts usually allow modifications even after the custody order’s finalization.

Does Indiana allow changes in the custody order?

Indiana laws allow modifications in the custody order, which the state calls parenting time order, if there are substantial changes or if the changes would serve the child’s best interests. Many factors come into play when courts decide, including the child’s age, the child’s adjustment to their home, school and community, and any history or pattern of abuse and neglect.

The modification does not apply automatically

The mere existence of changes in circumstances does not automatically grant the modification of the parenting time order. The parent seeking modifications has to submit a petition to the court that originally issued the parenting time order.

The burden of proof lies on the requesting parent

The parent requesting modifications must provide evidence to substantiate their request. If the petition asks for more parenting time, the court will consider evidence showing how additional parenting time would benefit the child’s welfare. If, on the other hand, the petition is to reduce the other parent’s parenting time, the evidence must demonstrate that the modification is necessary due to existing or risk of danger to the child’s safety and welfare.

In each case, the court’s decision centers on ensuring the child’s safety and serving the child’s best interests.