The current state of marriage in the United States continues to shift and morph, adapting to the current climate of marriage and divorce in the country. The trends away from the traditional notion of “family” has caused a shift in trends from the traditional custody determinations.
In previous decades, mothers were often granted custody over fathers. This was claimed to be due to bonding or mothers’ ability to parent more effectively. However, there is a national shift away from this presumption.
States, including Indiana, are moving more toward the notion of joint or equal custody or parenting time (or something closer to it). Presently, in Indiana, for a child age 3 or over, parenting time for the non-custodial parent is a midweek (overnight not guaranteed) and every other weekend. Michigan has recently considered making the presumption joint or equal physical custody instead of minimums for the non-custodial parent.
Another trend that is becoming more common is third party custody. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, or even friends are raising children when parents are unable or unwilling to do so. Parents have a fundamental right to raise their children and third parties often face a heavy burden in a custody battle against a natural parent, but with more and more third parties raising children, some states have created more lenient standards for third parties to obtain custody.
Lastly, the ongoing same-sex marriage debate has influenced the realm of divorce, particularly in the area of benefits and where parties can be divorced. As Indiana does not recognize same-sex marriages, even from states where same-sex marriage is legal and recognized, parties have sued the state regarding the ban in Indiana on same-sex marriages. These cases have yet to be decided in Indiana, and several states continue to make same-sex marriages legal throughout the nation.
We hope that this blog post has been helpful in exploring some trends in family law here in Indiana and across the nation. This blog post is not intended as legal advice. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the state of Indiana. This blog post was written by attorney, Jessica Keyes.