When a couple with children files for divorce, one of the first decisions that must be made is the type of custody and visitation arrangements the couple will use to raise their children. Indiana courts encourage the parents to formulate their own custody agreements regarding their children.
If custody arrangements cannot be agreed upon by the parents, however, a judge will step in and make the custody decisions for them.
Your children's future is too important to leave to chance. That is why it is essential in child custody cases to seek the advice of an attorney who has 30 years' experience with Indiana family law.
The overriding factor used in custody determinations is what is in the best interests of the child. In making this determination, the judge will examine several factors, including the desires of both parents, the needs and wishes of the child, and the child’s relationship with each of the parents.
Once the judge makes the best interests determination, other issues such as parenting time rights and child support arrangements are usually adjudicated.
Forms of Custody
In a child custody case, there are two forms of custody that must be determined - physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody is granted to the party that the child will spend the majority of his or her time with.
The parent who is awarded physical custody is referred to as the custodial parent. The parent who is not awarded physical custody is referred to as the noncustodial parent.
Noncustodial parents will usually be granted visitation rights, including overnight visits, liberal long-term parenting time, and vacations. In some cases, both parents are granted physical custody and are said to share joint physical custody.
Secondly, legal custody of a child gives a parent the right and obligation to make long-term decisions about the child’s upbringing including the child’s religion, medical care, schooling, and other important aspects of the child's upbringing.
Once the court issues an order for custody and parenting time, one parent may wish to move the child to another city or another state. In such cases, the relocating parent must provide a written notice to the other parent of their intention to relocate at least 90 days before the intended move.
The written notice must include the address of the new residence, a phone number where the relocating parent can be reached, the reasons for relocation, and a revised parenting time proposal. Once the written notice of relocation is received, the other parent must file an official objection to the relocation with the court within 60 days of receiving the notice or petition the court for a modification of the custody or parenting time order. A hearing will be held on the non-moving parent's objections.
Generally, judges do feel that it is truly in the best interests of a child to be nurtured by and bonded to both parents. Therefore, relocation may very appropriately be objected to.
Before you agree to custody arrangements in a divorce proceeding, you should seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney to protect your rights.
For the past 30 years, Eric Abel has devoted his practice exclusively to the dissolution of marriage and child custody cases. He has literally settled, mediated, or litigated thousands of cases. In a recent speech, a Vigo County Judge publicly noted that Eric Abel has litigated more cases in his family law court during the last 18 years than any other attorney appearing in his court.