Child Custody: One of the Most Important Factors in Life

Determining child custody can be one of the most complex areas of the law in any state, not just in Indiana. The child’s best interests will be carefully examined while reviewing other essential factors surrounding the child’s life.

One of the most important decisions maybe of our entire life and the life of our children is based on child custody.

Understanding the factors that courts will consider when determining child custody is essential.

Read on to learn more.

Legal Custody Versus Physical Custody

Legal custody and physical custody will both need to be determined for children. Legal custody refers to the decision-making abilities of either parent. With sole legal custody, one parent makes decisions regarding health care, sports, religious affiliations, and more. If joint custody is granted, both parents will share these decision-making responsibilities.

Physical custody refers to who is responsible for the child’s day-to-day needs and where the child will reside most of the time. Sole physical custody typically means that one parent has the child most of the time and handles their day-to-day activities such as homework, food, getting them to school and other appointments, hygiene, and more.

The non-primary parent would have visitations with their children based on the court’s recommendations. Joint physical custody typically consists of the children going back and forth between households. Some typical schedules may be one week with one parent and the next with the other, or partial weeks at one house and the rest of the week at the other to allow both parents to remain active in the day-to-day needs of their children.

The Age and Sex of the Child

The age or sex of each child in question is reviewed. The idea behind this is that each child may be in different stages of their life, making their requirements vastly different. For younger children, time with each parent should be prioritized, with time away from either parent being minimized when possible.

Children who are a little older and are gaining independence may not be as reliant on their parents for emotional needs. They may be developing relationships with other family members or siblings as a network to guide them along their lives.

Relationship with Each Parent

Each child’s existing relationships with either parent will be closely examined. Children can develop a strong relationship with one parent and experience levels of distress if they are forced to be away from that parent for too long. Similarly, suppose professionals deem that the relationship or bond with one parent isn’t conducive to emotional growth. In that case, the courts may order that frequent visits occur between both parents, along with some therapy to assist the child with separation anxiety.

Some children will be old enough or found to be mature enough to voice their opinion as to who they wish to live with. Their opinions are considered and listened to inherently, although it’s not the only deciding factor that courts will review.

Mental and Physical Health of Each Parent

Courts will closely examine the physical and mental health of both parents to determine if there are any areas of concern. Past medical records may be reviewed, alcohol or drug abuse issues will be scrutinized, and more.

From a physical standpoint, each parent’s health will be reviewed. If there are underlying issues that the parent isn’t willing to face or address, this may mean they may have problems in the future to care for their child if the physical symptoms progress.

Disabilities can also affect a judge’s decision regarding when parents may have access to their children or who else may need to be present to facilitate a safe environment for the child despite the disabilities.

Network of Extended and Immediate Families

Courts will try to keep siblings together if at all possible. Reviewing what sibling relationships exist in each home or proximity to either home will be necessary to the courts. Judges will also want to learn more about extended family relationships for each child.

Are grandparents or aunts and uncles regularly present and contributing to the healthy growth of children at one home and not the other? Courts will want to note this to ensure the children have a network outside the home to rely on as they mature.

Adjustment to Changes in Environment

Children will likely undergo some significant changes due to custody being arranged. The courts will also keep this in mind and want to ensure the children can adjust with minimal issues.

It’s important to note that, along with the other factors mentioned, they may somehow tie into this category. The children will need a network to help them adjust; they may need to rely on a strong bond with either parent to help them adapt to the changes in their new life. They may voice that they want to be with one parent or the other following significant changes because they know they have been able to rely on them in the past for substantial guidance when needed.

The above factors are not the only elements that will be examined in child custody cases, but it’s a great start to help you understand what the courts will consider.

Your Passionate Legal Professional

We respect how passionate you are about your kids and how caring for their best interests is of utmost priority. We are committed to solving “people problems” at our firm, not legal problems because we are all people at the end of the day with needs and possibly facing challenging chapters in our lives. Divorce or child custody is no exception.

Contact our office today at (317) 623-4546 to schedule your evaluation and learn how we can best assist you.