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How is Child Custody Determined in Indiana?

Nearly every divorce case has an element of emotion in it. That's especially true in family law cases involving child custody and determining what operates in a child's best interests. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement as to a child's best interests, their presiding judge will make a determination pursuant to a number of factors that follow:

  • The wishes of the child, taking into consideration the age and level of maturity of the child. At the age of 14, a child's wishes might be weighed more heavily.

  • The child's relation with each parent and anybody else who might be a significant influence in his or her best interests.

  • The physical and mental health of each of the parents.

  • The adaptability of the child to his or her environments and settings like school, homes and neighborhoods.

  • The wishes of the individual parents, but the best interests of the child still prevail.

The Two Types of Child Custody in Indiana

The law in Indiana contemplates two different forms of custody. Those are sole custody and joint custody. With sole custody, one parent is awarded the full care, decision-making, control and education of the child. Joint custody means that both parents share those considerations, but it doesn't mean that both parents have the child half of the time. A judge will only award joint custody if it makes an express finding that it operates in a child's best interests. In doing so, the judge will consider a wide variety of factors that include the following:

  • Whether the parties have agreed to joint custody.

  • Whether the parents are fit and proper to share in the joint custody of the child.

  • If the parties are capable of communicating and cooperating in the child's best interests.

  • The wishes of the child, especially if the child is over 14 years old.

  • How close the parents live to each other.

  • The child's relationship with each parent


Even if an order of joint child custody is entered, an order of visitation might still be entered. A noncustodial parent has the right to an order of reasonable visitation, otherwise known as parenting time. If it's determined that the noncustodial parent presents a danger to the child, supervised parenting time with a person approved by the court may be entered.

If you're contemplating a divorce, it's best to know what you're getting into well ahead of time. When emotions might run high in divorce and child custody cases, Cain Legal, LLC does its best to efficiently bring resolution and closure to the current chapter of your life. When it seems as if there's no solution to what you're being confronted with, Cain Legal, LLC can help. Contact us for an initial consultation and case review today.

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