Child custody proceedings tend to be confusing and emotional times. Whether it be an initial custody proceeding, or a modification of a pre-existing custody order, the process always seems to be draining on all involved parties. However, you can relieve some of the emotional burden by understanding the basic workings of child custody in Indiana. In this blog, we provide four things to know about child custody in Indiana.
In Indiana, child custody is divided into two distinct categories: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody means the physical care and supervision of a child.1 Thus, when a court awards physical custody, they are determining who should physically care for the child. In determining who should be awarded physical custody, whether it be an initial determination or a modification hearing, a trial court is required to consider certain statutory factors.2 These factors include: “(1) The age and sex of the child; (2) the wishes of the parents; (3) the wishes of the child, with more consideration given to the child’s wishes if the child is at least fourteen (14) years of age; (4) the interaction and interrelationship of the child with: (A) the child’s parents; (B) the child’s siblings; and (C) any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest; (5) the child’s adjustment to the child’s: (A) home; (B) school; and (C) community; (6)the mental and physical health of all individuals involved; (7) evidence of a pattern of domestic or family violence by either parent.”3
Legal custody, on the other hand, is the authority and responsibility for the major decisions concerning the child's upbringing, including the child's education, health care, and religious training.4 Thus, when a court awards legal custody, they are determining who will make the major decisions in the child’s life, such as where a child goes to school. Similar to a physical custody determination, a trial court is required to consider certain statutory factors in making a legal custody determination. These statutory factors include: (1) the fitness and suitability of each of the persons awarded joint custody; (2) whether the persons awarded joint custody are willing and able to communicate and cooperate in advancing the child's welfare; (3) the wishes of the child, with more consideration given to the child's wishes if the child is at least fourteen (14) years of age; (4) whether the child has established a close and beneficial relationship with both of the persons awarded joint custody; (5) whether the persons awarded joint custody: (A) live in close proximity to each other; and (B) plan to continue to do so; and (6) the nature of the physical and emotional environment in the home of each of the persons awarded joint custody.”5
Child custody proceedings can be a trying time for individuals. Not to mention, these are very personal and emotional matters for people. If you are in a child custody case, it may be helpful to seek the assistance of an attorney to help navigate through the process. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys handle all types of child custody cases throughout the State of Indiana and understand the significance of same. This blog post is written by Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates and is not intended as specific legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.