Home » child custody » Child Custody, Parenting Time and Child Support in Indiana

Child Custody, Parenting Time and Child Support in Indiana

Under Indiana law, a court must determine custody and enter a custody order in accordance with the best interests of the child.

In determining the best interests of the child, there is no legal presumption favoring either parent. In fact, however, more women than men are awarded custody, as is common throughout the United States.

The court must consider all relevant factors, including the following:
(1) The age and sex of the child.
(2) The wishes of the child’s parent or 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 old.
(4) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with:
(A) the child’s parent or parents;
(B) the child’s sibling; and
(C) any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests.
(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.
(8) Evidence that the child has been cared for by a de facto custodian, and other than either parent.

Joint legal custody may be awarded only if the court finds it is in the best interests of the child. This is actually a broader window for joint custody than many states, which require that joint custody of any kind is by agreement only. Nonetheless, joint custody in Indiana does not cover specific parenting time arrangements. Therefore, the parties may have joint legal custody, but one parent may still have substantially more or less parenting time than the other.

Indiana Parenting Time guidelines were established on the premise that it is the best interests of children to maintain frequent, meaningful and continuing contact with each parent. The guidelines are based on the developmental stages of children. In other words, what is appropriate for parenting time for a pre-schooler is quite different from that of a teenager.

The guidelines contain commentary stating that parenting time of a non-custodial parent is not limited to a minimum established under order of the court. In other words if a non-custodial parent can spend more time with a child, this should be encouraged by the custodial parent in most situations. The guidelines do emphasize flexibility on the part of both parents.

The guidelines do not apply to situations involving violence, substance abuse, risk of flight with a child, and other situations that pose a significant risk to the child. In all other cases, the parenting time guidelines are presumed to apply and govern the administration of parenting time issues.

Child support in Indiana is based on a formula derived from a consideration of both parent’s income and the number of days per year children spend in the household of each parent. While the formula itself yields a very objective result, determination of income can be treated as a more subjective exercise. Thus, it becomes very important for both parents to think carefully about the resources that are available and the particular needs of the children that need to be covered. Child care expenses and health insurance for the children are both factored into the formula. Extraordinary educational expenses can also be included in the factors from which support is finally determined.

If you are facing a divorce with children or conemplating any action that would trigger an impact on custody, parenting time or child support in your life – visit Thompson Legal Services or contact Andrew Thompson for an assessment of your situation today.

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6 Comments

  1. 3629 says:

    Helpful Facts And More

  2. samantha says:

    I’m 15 years old and wanting to switch custody due to the fact that I am unhappy living with my current custodial parent. I feel that the balance of the home is upset becasue of the stress caused by the constant fighting and lack of trust in my home. I want to know if I can pick the home which I would like to live in. Is this possible and who do I need to talk to to find out the details? I would appreciate an email answering my questions as soon as possible because things are contiously getting worse.

    • indianafamilyattorney says:

      Samantha, your feelings are very relevant here. At 15 years old, you may be the best judge of which parent provides the best home environment for you to live in. There are a number of factors to be considered – the county and state in which you live are very important.

  3. Nikki says:

    My husband’s son is hearing impaired and will turn 21 in January. We want to end child support since he no longer is in school. He finished high school in December 2008 and has no interest in college or working. His mother wants to continue support since the son will not work or she says he can’t take care of himself. Any good advice on how to fight this in court? The son has high school diploma, drivers license, dates, had previous jobs, smokes/chews/drinks, otherwise normal child. Thanks.

  4. billy jean says:

    my husband and i have had his kids since they were in 1st and 2nd grade, they are now in 4th & 5th grade. he got in trouble a few years ago and is now having to serve 4mos. in jail. the kids mother moved here from out-of-town after he was gone and took the kids from school. i haven’t seen them since. we don’t have any legal papers the kids have just been living with us all these years. when he is released does he have a chance of getting the kids full -time legally?

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