Child Custody

Child Custody Lawyers for Parents, Grandparents and Other Family Members

When choosing an attorney to handle your child custody case, there is a lot to consider. Child custody cases can be some of the most emotionally and mentally draining cases to handle. After all, not only must you consider what is best for you, but, most importantly, you must consider what is best for your child.

Due to the high stakes and potential emotional fatigue involved, you’ll want to rest your case in the hands of Carmel child custody lawyers who understand the complexities of the legal system and will work with your best interest at heart. With a trusted attorney on your side, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing your case will be handled in only the most professional manner.Joshua R. Hains has a decade of experience in family law. He approaches each case with a breadth and depth of knowledge that allows clients to understand all of the options before making any life-changing decisions. If you are preparing to go through a divorce or separation with children, if you are dealing with a custody-related dispute, or if you need help with any other issue related to child custody in Indiana, Attorney Hains can help. To discuss your situation in confidence, call (317) 588-2883 for a free initial consultation with our top Carmel custody lawyers.

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 involving:

Parenting Time

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 parenting time.

Parental Relocation

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.

Grandparent Visitation

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 you desire.

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.

Third-Party Custody

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 interest”
  • 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 respective schedules.

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 Separations

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 parenting.

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 time rights?

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.

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