Child Custody

Indianapolis Child Custody Lawyer

Child custody has the possibility of being the most contentious part of a divorce.  It does not have to be that way.

It’s important to understand that in Indiana, courts do not favor the mother over the father.  Instead, courts will take into account such aspects as which parent has been the primary caregiver, the age of a child, and (if the child is over 14), whether the child has a preference as to which parent they would like to live.

It is also important to understand that Indiana courts do not take into consideration which parent “caused” a divorce when considering custody or visiting time.  Instead, courts presume that both parents are equally qualified for primary custody, and, with respect to the non-custodial parent, to substantial parenting time.

Custody Negotiations

Where both parents want, and are qualified, to have primary custody, the ultimate custody determination will either be made by the parents upon agreement (with the approval of the court), or through a trial (in which case the judge will determine custody).  In the vast majority of the cases, the parents will be in the best position to agree upon custody conditions.

The advantages of reaching custody conditions through negotiation are:

  • It is usually much faster
  • It is usually far less expensive
  • It can be less stressful on the children as the result of being faster and because they may not have to appear in court to determine which parent they want to live with
  • Parents have much more freedom to determine a custody schedule that will work best with their jobs and other commitments
  • As part of the custody schedule, parents can agree upon related issues, such as where the children will attend school, in what religion they will be raised, whether they will take music lessons or be involved in sports activities, etc.

Judges do not have this same level of knowledge as do parents about what schedules will work the best.  As a result, they are more likely to adopt one of the custody plans proposed by one of the parents in the course of a trial.

What Custody Arrangements are Best for You?

While negotiation for custody schedule and conditions is usually the best approach at the outset, there are circumstances in which one parent should be awarded sole custody, such as if the other parent has been abusive, is addicted to drugs, is involved in crime, suffers from severe mental illness, or if other factors exist that would impact the welfare and safety of the children.  In other cases, sole custody should be awarded simply because the other parent may not be around, or may not want custody.

When we meet and I learn about your custody objectives, I can discuss with you the best strategy for going forward.  If trial is necessary, I will work steadfastly to obtain a full win for you.