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How do Indiana divorce courts determine child custody?

Anyone considering divorce has many things to take into consideration. In addition to questions you may have concerning spousal support and property division, your biggest concern is probably the custody of your children. How can you know which factors the court will use to determine which of you will have sole custody of the children, or if you will share joint custody?

Types of custody

There are two different types of custody to worry about when it comes to children. Physical custody is the right to have the child physically living with you in your house. Legal custody is the right to make important decisions for the child regarding their medical care, education and so forth.

Both of these types of custody can be sole or shared. In other words, you could have sole legal and physical custody of your children with your ex-spouse having visitation rights or vice versa, or you could both share joint physical and legal custody.

The custody determination process

It’s important to note that you have the chance to negotiate whatever kind of custody arrangement you want with your ex-spouse. If you are able to agree on a parenting arrangement, your attorneys can negotiate its terms and put them down into an official contract. If the court approves the arrangement, then it will become binding.

Often, however, ex-spouses cannot agree. This most often happens when both spouses are trying to obtain sole physical and legal custody of the children. If this is the case, you will have to litigate the subject before the divorce court.

In Indiana, courts take into consideration a variety of factors when coming to a final decision for custody arrangements. The primary factor they will consider is the best interest of your children. In other words, they will examine any element that has an effect on your children’s health and wellbeing.

Some of these elements include the child’s schooling, their relationships with extended family members, any history of domestic violence and each parent’s ability to provide a stable environment for them to live in. The goal is to maintain a sense of stability and support for the child as much as is possible in wake of the divorce. If the child is old enough and mature enough, their own wishes may be considered as well.

It’s never easy to go through child custody proceedings, especially when the children are young. Knowing how the court makes these determinations can help you to prepare for the process and avoid surprises.