In Indiana, the term custody includes two distinct concepts, namely physical and legal custody. Physical custody generally refers to the parent with whom the child will spend the majority of overnights with during a year. Legal custody focuses on which parent (or both) make major decisions for the children, focusing on health, education and religion.
This blog post explores these and modification and division of this legal decision-making. In a majority of cases, legal custody is not at issue at all or to the degree with physical custody. Many parents were drawn together as a couple because of similar views on these issues. However, this is sometimes quite an issue of legal contention.
As it relates to health care decisions, this might be whether to obtain braces or which doctor to see. Another and classic example of a matter over which health care decision making sometimes become at an impasse is with educational disabilities and tutoring or medical issues related to such like ADHD and medication versus other alternatives.
Educational decision-making involves whether the children attend public or private schools and what activities he/she is involved with. Where this involves a cost, typically both parents contribute toward the expenses making the non-legal custodian especially sensitive to decisions that impact education and finances.
Finally, religion has been a matter of hot dispute for all of recorded history and this is no exception with families. Thus, strongly held, but differing views between parents over religious training and exposure also may cause issues to arise.
Courts can and do generally award joint legal custody when the evidence demonstrates the parents can ordinarily work together to make such decisions. However, a subsequent dispute can always be brought to the court to decide, or legal custody can be modified between parents upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances. More rarely, but not uncommon, a trial court can award joint legal custody on one issue, such as religion, but order sole legal custody on education and health care decisions. This is because the courts look to meet the children’s best interests.
With the proper development of facts, your attorney may be able to obtain sole legal custody or modify this in accordance with the ever changing needs of children. This blog post is written as general educational information about legal custody. It is not designed to be specific legal advice to your situation, nor a solicitation for legal representation. It is an advertisement. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys handle physical and legal custody matters in divorce and paternity cases and modifications throughout the state of Indiana.