However, when you and your child’s other parent are no longer raising your children together, it’s vital to establish child custody and support guidelines. This helps protect both parents and your children in the event of a family dispute.
As child custody lawyers who have worked with many families in Indiana, we understand how these issues can be legally resolved to protect the interests of the children as well as parents. A compassionate and experienced family lawyer will be able to review your case and understand what options present the best outcome for you and your loved ones.
Types of Child Custody
Under Indiana law, your family can enter into any type of child custody agreement that is in the best interests of your child. However, many families will opt into joint or sole custody agreements. There are two primary types of custody: physical custody and legal custody.
Physical custody refers to the primary residence at which the children reside. The parent who retains physical custody will often be referred to as the custodial parent. The parent who does not retain physical custody will be referred to as the non-custodial parent.
Legal custody refers to all the major decision-making regarding your children. This might include:
- What religion they are raised in
- Which schools they attend
- What extracurricular activities they participate in
- What television and music they are allowed to watch and listen to
- Medical decisions
Depending on the details of your case, you may want to enter into joint or sole physical or legal custody agreements. If you enter into a joint physical or legal custody agreement, both parents will share physical custody of the children and need to make legal decisions together. However, suppose you have a sole physical or legal custody agreement. In that case, the non-custodial parent may only have visitation rights and will not have the authority to make any decisions regarding their child’s upbringing.
Child Custody Hearings in Indiana
You and the other parent involved will find yourselves in a child custody hearing if you are unable to resolve this issue on your own. The main problem that the court will be addressing concerns the best interest of the children involved.
In doing this, the father’s rights and mother’s rights are supposed to be treated equally and given the same amount of consideration. Before a decision on either joint or sole custody is reached, each parent and their lawyers will be able to present a case outlining what they believe is best for the child.
Factors That Influence Custody Decisions
Your lawyer must be compassionate while also having an in-depth understanding of how custody questions are resolved. While Indiana law provides rights for you as the parent, your rights will take a backseat to the welfare of your child in a custody hearing. State law directs the court to consider the following when deciding on child custody:
- The wishes of the child, especially for children over 14 years
- The child’s interaction with parents and siblings
- Any evidence of domestic problems or dangers
- The child’s education needs and role in the community
- The health of the child and parents
Hessler Law has worked with many parents as they seek to build secure and lasting relationships with their children. We understand how the law and courts decide custody cases with the interests of the child in mind.
Parenting time is offered for most parents who do not have primary custody of their child, and we can also help you make sure that your time with your child is protected if you are in this situation.
Establishing Child Support Requirements
Child support decisions are an essential aspect of the court’s powers to protect children whose parents are separated. Using guidelines known as the Income Shares Model, the law compares the incomes of each parent.
Calculations determine which parent must pay the other so that neither parent is unfairly burdened in meeting the needs of the child. However, the results of these calculations are not necessarily followed by the number. Instead, they are used as helpful information that the court considers when making decisions regarding the finances of both parents and their obligations to their children.
Factors That Influence Child Support Payments
Your child support lawyer can use their knowledge of the court’s goals to help you and your family secure a fair and reasonable child support payment program. The court’s desires include finding a plan that ensures the child’s financial well-being and making sure the parents’ financial obligations are reasonable.
Factors that are considered when determining child support include:
- Financial support provided by family other than the parents
- The standard of living that the child has enjoyed in the past while in the custody of their parents
- A parent’s unemployment, or underemployment, is voluntarily done for the benefit of the child
- Debts taken on by the parents for the interest of the child
- Court-ordered payments for the healthcare or education of the child
- The career opportunities that each parent can pursue
Indiana Does Provide Rights to Grandparents
Grandparents’ rights fall behind those of the parents. If the court finds that a parent is fit to continue in their custody of the child, there will be no actions taken to benefit a grandparent’s rights that might undermine those of the parent.
However, Indiana law does provide for grandparents to seek visitation rights if it’s in the child’s best interests as long as one of the following is also the case:
- The child’s parents are divorced or had their marriage annulled.
- The child was born out of wedlock.
- The grandparent’s child or the parent of the child in question is deceased.
How Can Grandparents Obtain Custody?
Sometimes grandparents feel as though visitation rights are not enough to protect their grandchild, and they wish to seek custody rights for themselves. This option is also available and can be formally completed if the child’s custodial parent agrees to give or share custody with the grandparent.
If this does not happen, then just like with a grandparent seeking visitation rights, they have the requirement to show the well-being of the child would be improved by their taking custody.
This can be done by demonstrating that the parent with custody is unfit, abusive, or neglectful. It is important to note that paternal grandparents cannot seek visitation or custody rights if the grandchild’s paternity has not been established.
Retain a Family Lawyer with Local Experience
When it comes to the custody and financial support of a child, Indiana law is primarily concerned with the well-being of the child. This concern is closely followed by a desire to be fair to the child’s parents. Your family lawyer must have experience in these types of cases and understand what evidence is considered in court.
However, our experience helping many families has made it clear that each court approaches these concerns differently. For this reason, it’s strongly advisable to have a lawyer who is knowledgeable with the court in which your child custody and support hearings will take place.
We’ll Walk You Through the Legal Process
Our family lawyer team at Hessler Law has worked with many parents in the Indianapolis area. We understand what you are going through, and we know how to help you successfully navigate the complex and emotionally stressful legal process that can include:
- Custody evaluations
- Modifications for custody or visitation rights
- Child support calculations and future modifications
- Paternity claims
- Relocations and interstate custody issues
- Emergency custody orders
Safeguard Your Child’s Future – Call Hessler Law
The legal system surrounding child custody and support is challenging. You want what is best for your child’s future, and you also want to protect your rights as a parent. We strongly advise you to call a lawyer as soon as possible.
We’ve helped many parents deal with these challenging and highly personal issues, and we understand what you’re going through. Experienced Indiana child custody lawyer Sean Hessler knows how our local courts handle these critical issues, and our team can help you through every step going forward.