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Patterns, and Cycles, and Changes, Oh My! The Timeframe to Modify Custody

Child custody is often one of the lengthiest processes in family law, and continues on, often for several years until the child is emancipated. Custody is often ongoing and fluid. Maybe the work schedule of the parents has changed or a parent is required to move for a job. These and many other factors can cause custody or parenting time modification to be filed and addressed, either by agreement or Court Order.

In order to modify child custody, there are several factors that are explored, including, the age and sex of the child, the relationship with the child’s parents and siblings, the bond to the community and school, etc1. However, modification is limited in some respects. Evidence and information from before a prior custody proceeding is generally not admissible2.

There is an exception, however. Indiana law allows for evidence to be presented from prior to the last custody proceeding if the matter relates to a change in the factors relating to the best interests of the child.

The rationale behind not allowing evidence from prior to the last custody proceeding is to avoid re-litigating issues which have already been addressed. For example, if in a 2010 hearing, there was evidence presented that Mother had a boyfriend that Father did not approve of the children being around, but Mother was granted custody, Father is generally prevented from bringing up the same 2010 evidence of the boyfriend in 2014, unless the matter relates to a change in the factors.

If, in the above example, there is a pattern of the boyfriend not properly caring for the children through 2014, this pattern may show the continuing poor interrelationship of the children with the boyfriend, and may potentially be considered in the 2014 modification hearing.

What information and evidence will be included and excluded is case sensitive in each matter. Consulting with an attorney may help you determine what the basis and timeframe for a potential custody modification may be.

We hope that this blog post has been helpful in exploring custody modification generally. This blog is not intended as legal advice. If you have questions or concerns about your case, CIYOU & DIXON, P.C. may be able to help evaluate same. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the state of Indiana. This post was written by attorney, Jessica Keyes.

  1. See Ind. Code §31-17-2-8
  2. See Ind. Code §31-17-2-21


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