All issues involving child custody and child support have significant social, political, economic and psychological dynamics operating within the legal system and controlling laws. Two key policies that support the law is to maintain the child with a style of living as if the parents were married and meet the child’s best interests.
In the very broad area, this blog post explores three trends that are slowly changing domestic law across the country: joint custody, child support ending at age 18, and third parties obtaining custody. At present, the parent who is not awarded physical custody is given parenting time (overnights) that may approximate up to equal time. This is becoming more “normal” and accepted for courts to order in a child’s best interests.
In addition, parents have a fundamental constitutional right to raise their children with a minimum of state interference. Thus, there are compelling constitutional arguments that joint physical custody is or should be the legal standard to meeting this constitutional right.
Second, Indiana is in an ever-shrinking number of states that allow child support to continue for higher educational purposes after age 18. In most states, the obligation for child support terminates at 18 or when the child graduates from his or her senior year of high school, whichever is later as many seniors turn 19 during their senior year.
The constitutional argument is for ending support of all forms at the age of majority is rooted in the equal protection clause. That is, parents who are married are free to stop supporting their children at 18 and have no duty to pay toward higher education; therefore they are not treated equally with parents who are forced to pay higher education expenses by a court order merely because of divorce or paternity.
Third, although parents have a fundamental right to raise their children, the statistical reality is increasingly children are bonding with third-party caregivers without much if any contact or support by their biological parents. In the biggest number of cases, these are grandparents, but may be neighbors or other unrelated parties. In these cases in Indiana, caselaw, guardianships statutes, and de facto custody statutes allow for such care, even when a parent later tries to resume contact and assert custody.
Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys handle all aspect of child custody cases, including de facto custody, child support matters, and custody time cases throughout the Indianapolis metropolitan area and the State of Indiana. This blog is intended for informational purposes only and not a solicitation for legal services or specific advice. It is an advertisement.