Experienced Legal Representation for Indiana Child Custody Matters
Our Carmel child custody lawyers represent parents, grandparents and other
family members in all child custody-related matters under Indiana law.
He has extensive experience helping clients overcome challenging situations
Attorney Hains assists clients in navigating their parenting time cases.
If you are looking to establish or modify your court ordered parenting
time, or negotiate a parallel parenting agreement, Hains Law, LLC can
guide you through the process.
Learn more about
After divorce, it often happens that one parent decides to move. Whether
that move is within the state or across the country, Hains Law, LLC can
help you navigate your parental relocation case. While always keeping
in mind what is best for the child, Joshua R. Hains can shed light on
your legal options.
Determining grandparent visitation can be stressful for all parties involved.
Whether you are seeking visitation rights to see your grandchildren, or
are entering into this legal process as a parent, you need a trusted lawyer
to work for you. Attorney Hains has experience with all aspects of grandparent
visitation cases and will work tirelessly to help you reach the outcome
Modification of Custody Orders
Once the child custody agreement is settled, you or your ex-spouse may
desire a change in the order. If a custody order modification is in your
future, our Carmel custody lawyers can offer legal advice and guidance
from step one to done. Whether you are the parent initiating the change,
or the parent reviewing the change of order, Attorney Hains can assist
in making the adjustments in the best interest of the child or children.
Navigating a third-party custody agreement is never an easy feat. With
high emotions on the table, it can be a challenge to see the situation
with a clear head. However, with a decade of experience in family law
matters, Attorney Hains can offer clarity and insight during what might
otherwise be an overwhelming process.
What Parents, Grandparents and Other Family Members Need to Know about
Child Custody in Indiana
Regardless of the circumstances you are facing, and regardless of your
relationship with the child or children involved, making informed decisions
and securing a desirable outcome requires a detailed understanding of
the laws that govern child custody cases in Indiana. While you can –
and should – rely on the advice of an experienced attorney, it can
also be helpful for you to learn about the basic terminology and guiding
principles that will be involved in your case.
1. Determining the “Best Interests” of the Child or Children Involved
First and foremost, when it comes to establishing custody, Indiana law
requires all parties involved to focus their efforts on protecting the
“best interests” of the child or children involved. This is
the standard the courts apply in contested custody matters; and, as a
result, it is also the standard that parents, grandparents and other family
members must apply when developing parenting time plans and addressing
other custody-related issues out of court.
When determining what is in a child’s best interests, the Indiana
courts focus on seven discrete factors:
- The age and sex of the child
- The wishes of the child’s parents
- The wishes of the child
- The child’s interaction and relationship with parents, siblings and
anyone else who “may significantly affect the child’s best
- The child’s adjustment to home, school and community
- The child’s and parents’ mental and physical health
- Any evidence of a pattern of domestic violence
Each of these factors can weigh more or less heavily depending upon the
particular family dynamics and circumstances involved, and no single factor
(including the wishes of the parents or the wishes of the child) is determinative
when it comes to determining what is in a child’s best interests.
Additionally, while there is a common perception that mothers are favored
in child custody proceedings, Indiana law expressly provides that, “there
is not a presumption favoring either parent,” with regard to the
establishment of child custody.
2. Choosing Between Joint and Sole Custody
For divorcing and separating parents, one of the first steps in resolving
custody involves choosing between joint and sole custody.
But, before discussing the various alternatives related to joint and sole
custody, it is important to address another important distinction: the
difference between “physical” and “legal” custody.
Physical custody refers to the right to live with and provide a primary
home environment for a child. Legal custody, on the other hand, refers
to the right to make important decisions on a child’s behalf. In
divorce and separation cases, it is possible for parents to share or separately
have rights to physical custody, legal custody or both.
Generally, the Indiana courts take the position that it is in a child’s
best interests for both parents to play an active role in his or her life.
As a result, joint physical and legal custody arrangements and arrangements
involving clearly-delineated parenting time rights are most common. However,
the courts will award sole custody in appropriate circumstances. Awards
of sole custody are most common in situations involving:
- Domestic violence
- Child abuse or neglect
- Substance or alcohol abuse
- Legal trouble
If none of these considerations are pertinent, an award of joint custody
will more likely be considered to be in the child’s (or children’s)
best interests. When structuring joint physical custody, parents have
a variety of options, including alternating weeks, splitting weeks in
half and making other arrangements that work with their and their children’s
3. Structuring Parenting Time
In many circumstances, it makes sense for everyone if one parent has primary
custody of the couple’s children and the other parent has regularly-scheduled
visitation. Visitation is referred to as “parenting time”
in Indiana. With regard to structuring parenting time, Indiana law gives
parents the flexibility to develop mutually-agreeable arrangements when
it is possible to do so; and, when it isn’t, it requires application
of Indiana’s Parenting Time Guidelines.
While a common parenting time schedule gives the non-custodial parent visitation
time every other weekend and on specified holidays, this schedule does
not necessarily work for everyone. During the divorce or separation process,
it will be important for parents to think critically about different alternatives
that may better serve their needs and the needs of their children.
4. Parallel Parenting: Resolving Custody in High-Conflict Divorces and
Even in hotly-contested divorces and separations, it will generally still
be in the children’s best interests for their parents (or the court)
to arrive at a custody determination that maintains some level of interaction
between the parents. But, if interactions among parents are likely to
remain hostile and could potentially jeopardize the children’s wellbeing,
Indiana’s Parenting Time Guidelines offer the alternative of parallel
In a parallel parenting arrangement, each parent engages with his or her
children independently, and strict, legally-enforceable rules control
everything from pickup and drop-off responsibilities to timing and method
of communications. While the circumstances in which parallel parenting
are appropriate are limited, if you and your spouse or partner simply
cannot get along, it may be an option to consider.
5. Understanding the Limits on Child Custody Modification
Since the original custody determination must reflect the best interests
of the child or children involved, a child custody order may only be modified
if a change in circumstances warrants reconsideration of the “best
interests” factors listed above. In order to modify custody or parenting
time, one or both parents must file a petition with the appropriate court.
Simply deviating from a custody order or parenting time plan, even with
the consent of your child’s other parent, is not permitted, and
it can have serious negative ramifications.
As a result, when addressing child custody during a divorce or separation,
parents should assume that the custody award entered at the end of the
process will be final. Parents should think carefully about what they
want and what is best for their children, and they should do their best
to anticipate any changes that may happen in the future.
Indiana Child Custody FAQs
Q: If my child is getting divorced, do I need to seek visitation in order
to see my grandchildren?
Not necessarily. In most circumstances, grandparents will not need to seek
visitation as a result of their child’s divorce. In fact, Indiana
law only allows grandparents to seek visitation under limited circumstances.
However, if you are concerned about your ability to spend time with your
grandchildren, it is worth exploring your options, and we encourage you
to contact us to learn more.
Q: When can a non-parent seek custody in Indiana?
In Indiana, non-parents (referred to as “third parties”) can
seek custody upon a clear showing that the proposed custody arrangement
is in the child’s best interests. This is not always, or often,
easy, as the courts generally assume that it is in a child’s best
interests to be raised by his or her parents. However, if you are concerned
for a child’s safety or wellbeing, or if you have formed a strong
emotional bond with someone else’s child, you may be eligible to
obtain custody. Seeking guardianship of the child may be an option as well.
Q: I need to move for work. How will this affect my custody or parenting
When one parent needs to move for work, this can present challenging circumstances
for both parents and their children. Relocation requires court approval,
and this approval is not guaranteed. Whenever possible, parents who need
to relocate should seek to reach an amicable solution with their former
spouse or partner, but they will need to be prepared to convince the court
to order a modification to their existing child custody order as well.
Q: How can a father establish paternity out of wedlock in Indiana?
There are three primary ways in which a father can establish paternity
out of wedlock in Indiana: (i) by signing a paternity affidavit at the
hospital within 72 hours after birth; (ii) by signing a paternity affidavit
at the local health department after 72 hours have passed; or, (iii) by
obtaining a court order. In contested paternity cases, Indiana uses DNA
testing to determine whether a putative father is a child’s biological parent.
Contact Carmel Custody Lawyers to Ensure the Best for Your Children
Whether you are preparing to negotiate parenting time, need help securing
grandparent visitation rights or facing any other issue involving the
custody of a child in Indiana, Hains Law, LLC can help you achieve a desirable
outcome as quickly, painlessly and cost-effectively as possible. Attorney
Joshua R. Hains brings a decade of experience to each case, ensuring that
every client receives the personal and comprehensive attention they deserve.
To get started with a free, no-obligation initial consultation, call our
Carmel, IN law offices at (317) 588-2883 or
request an appointment online today.