In child custody proceedings, Indiana trial court judges award or modify custody by considering all1 of the evidence in order to determine a custody arrangement in the child’s best interests. There are several statutory considerations for the court to weigh, including the physical and mental health of the parents, as well as any other facts or circumstances that may factor into a child’s best interests as it relates to custody.2 For years, “soft” drug use, such as smoking marijuana, has been considered in awarding or modifying custody in Indiana.3 Further, serious drug addiction/abuse issues sometimes came before trial courts and ...
March 22, 2018CD
In divorce or paternity cases, custody evaluations are common. They are provided for in the paternity and divorce statutes, as well as local court rules and discovery rules. A trial court judge has the inherent discretion and power to order a custody evaluation. In simple terms, a custody evaluation is nothing more than a trained professional interviewing the adults and children and reviewing materials they provide to make a written report to the trial court of what is in the children’s best interests. However, there are three things you must know to make the most of a custody evaluation. These ...
March 1, 2018CD
Making the Factual Showings in Custody Modification Almost every two people hear about a situation and come up with a different opinion. This is because second hand reporting removes the context and non-verbal communication that may be present, such as grimaces, winces, and other body language. Because of this, the Indiana Court of Appeals and Indiana Supreme Court give great deference to trial court judges in custody modification cases. In cases where there is a pure factual dispute, and no question of the application of the law (such as is this the first custody decision or a modification), it is crucial litigants ...
March 24, 2016Adam Hayes
Indiana trial court judges are charged with the difficult task of making child custody decisions in the children’s best interests. This is daunting in contested divorce cases as the actual parents cannot agree to what is best for their own children. To assist them, judges on their own or with request of an attorney, appoint trained individuals ranging from trained attorneys to clinical psychologists to make custody and parenting recommendations. Sometimes the results are unexpected and unfavorable for a parent. This is not the end or the decision of the court. Courts are not bound by custody recommendations and may reject them. ...
February 3, 2016Adam Hayes
Any party to a divorce, paternity, or the Court may request/order a custody evaluation. A custody evaluation is normally done to request a professional’s opinion on what is in the children’s best interests for custody, parenting time, and/or relocation. At the end of the process, an evaluator will make custody type recommendations to the Court after spending a significant amount of time with the parties. In the event you obtain an unfavorable custody evaluation, there are five important ways you may challenge the recommendations if you believe they are not in the children’s best interests. First, know a custody evaluator’s report and ...
November 3, 2015Adam Hayes
Disputes over child custody, parenting time or visitation are often referred to third party professionals to investigation the matter fully and make a recommendation to the court.1 This process often leads to settlement and more streamlined trials. However, a court, who must use its discretion and make a child custody determination is not bound by an evaluator’s recommendations, but is likely to follow them. Custody cases usually involve a great-deal of emotion and “he-said, she-said.” For this reason, the key point of the evaluator—making a best interests recommendation to the court--is difficult and time consuming. Evaluators are not perfect and there ...
February 24, 2015CD
There are a variety of cases involving child custody matters, including third party custody, de facto custodian custody, guardianships (and termination of guardianship), divorce, post divorce modification, relocation of a parent, and paternity. In fact, many of these types of cases can overlap and include more than one type. For example a post divorce decree custody modification can be as a result of the custodial parent relocating. In many cases where custody, or even parenting time, is contested, the court and attorneys may utilize one of several types of evaluations to help provide the court with insight into the matter. The ...
October 21, 2014CD
In many divorce and paternity cases it often happens that one parent is provided primary physical custody of the child or children, and the other parent receives parenting time. Physical custody refers to where the child primarily lives. There is another type of custody, legal custody, that could be either joint in both parents or sole in one parent. This means, the parents can share joint legal custody and one parent could have primary physical custody, but it also means that one parent could be provided with both sole legal custody and primary physical custody. Legal custody refers to the ...
July 22, 2014CD
Making the decision to pack up and move to another area of the state or another state altogether can be a stressful and difficult one. However, if you add an open family law matter to the mix, things can get even more stressful. So, what information can you help gather for your attorney to assist in your argument for relocation? It varies per case, but here are some general key pieces of information that can assist your case. 1. Parenting Time Plan: When distance is a factor, parenting time can become difficult to schedule. The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines give minimum suggestions ...
July 1, 2014CD
As family law matters progress, one of the first issues to be determined by the parties is parenting time/custody. In some instances, the parties can agree to or are ordered to have joint physical custody. Other times, one parent is granted sole physical custody pursuant to the other parent’s parenting time. Parenting time is often granted, at a minimum, pursuant to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines (IPTGs)1. Generally, for older children, this includes midweek parenting time for a few hours and every other weekend for the parent exercising parenting time. The IPTGs are considered a minimum of parenting time, and if ...
October 1, 2013CD