What are the Different Types of Custody in Indiana?

If a married or unmarried couple decides to end their relationship and they have children together, the couple must deal with the issue of custody.

There are several different types of custody. The parents are allowed to agree upon the type of custody each parent gets, but if they do not, the court will decide it for them. Knowing the types of custody will make it easier for parents to settle their case.  The types of custody overlap, so it’s important for parents to understand each of them.

What is Physical Custody?

If the children live with a particular parent, that parent is said to have physical custody. Physical custody includes:

  • Who the children live with
  • Who takes care of the children on a day-to-day basis, and
  • Who makes sure the children go to school, medical appointments and extra-curricular activities

What is Legal Custody?

Legal custody means decision-making. If a parent has legal custody, the parent has the right to participate in the major decisions concerning the children. Major decisions include decisions about health, education, and religion. 

It is possible for a parent to have both physical and legal custody, but it is also possible for a parent to have legal custody without physical custody.

What is Joint Custody?

Joint custody is where both parents actually have joint legal custody of the children. This means they each have the right to have an input in decision-making concerning the children. This type of arrangement works best for parents who can be amicable with each other and who are willing to work together for the sake of the children.

It also works well when parents live near each other. That’s not to say it can’t be done in long-distance scenarios, but joint custody has more of a chance to succeed when the parents can each interact with the children on a regular basis. It’s difficult to make serious decisions long-distance.

What is Sole Custody?

Sole custody is awarded by the court or agreed-upon when one parent is the primary caretaker of the child. That parent will have the right to make the decisions concerning the children. Sole custody works is in the best interests of the children when the non-custodial parent has:

  • Engaged in domestic violence against the other parent
  • Engaged in abuse or neglect against any of the children
  • A substance abuse or alcohol problem
  • A problem with the law, such as arrests, convictions or jail time
  • Not been involved in the children’s lives, or
  • Other factors which make sole custody the best choice for the children

Both sole custody and joint custody can be awarded by a court or decided by agreement between the parties. Sole custody means sole physical custody, with the other parent usually having some form of visitation. It’s not necessary to call this type of custody sole physical custody because physical custody is presumed.

Is There Joint Physical Custody?

Yes. Joint physical custody is also referred to as shared custody. This works best for young children. In this type of situation, each parent has relatively equal time with the children. That could mean a schedule where the children stay with one parent for the first week and then stay with the other parent for the second week. The parents continuously alternate physical custody each week. This does not work well for school-aged children because it is disruptive to their schedules.

Other types of shared custody could include splitting up the week, with one parent having the children for three-and-a-half days at the beginning of the week and the other parent having the children towards the end of the week. This type of custody also works best for young children. In shared custody situations, older children have a tough time remembering which parent’s house to go to after school or which parent is supposed to take them to activities.

Our Carmel Custody Lawyers are Proficient with Custody Cases

Our custody lawyer has experience with all types of custody cases.  Each custody case is different and has its own unique set of facts. The attorney can counsel you, explain the different types of custody and explain what options you have for your situation. Most custody cases are settled although some go to trial.  Contact Hains Law, LLC to learn about the different types of custody and how we can help you with your custody case.


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