Child Custody What the Court Considers

Indiana law has a very broad standard when it comes to deciding child custody.  In a nutshell, when custody of a child is at issue the court is to do “what is in the best interest of the child.”  So what does that mean?
The law starts out by making it clear that there is not a presumption in favor of either parent.  In other words, mom or dad has an equal right to the custody of the children.  The law then goes on to list several factors that a court should consider.  Those factors are:
(1) The age and sex of the child.
(2) The wishes of the child’s parent or parents.
(3) The wishes of the child, with more consideration given to the child’s wishes if the child is at least fourteen (14) years of age.
(4) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with:      
       (A) the child’s parent or parents;
(B) the child’s sibling; and
(C) any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests.
(5) The child’s adjustment to the child’s:
(A) home;
(B) school; and
(C) community.
(6) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
(7) Evidence of a pattern of domestic or family violence by either parent.
(8) Evidence that the child has been cared for by a de facto custodian, and if the evidence is sufficient, the court shall consider the factors described in section 8.5(b) [IC 31-17-2-8.5(b)] of this chapter.
So that is a pretty exhaustive list that makes a myriad of things relevant and admissible when it comes to determining, “what is in the best interest of the child.”  Where custody of a child has been determined, the court may change that order if there is a substantial change in circumstances and it is in the best interest of the child.
Examples of where a court has concluded a change of custody was warranted include: current parent lacks discipline over the child, child’s school performance is very poor, current custodial parent gives notice that they are moving, where physical or mental abuse has been present, where a parent has been arrested, and where  the wishes of the child along with their relationship with the parents has changed.
Because a court hearing over custody of a child can involve expert witnesses, medical records, evaluations and detailed investigations it is likely to be to your advantage to have an attorney involved if you are seeking custody of your child or modification of your current child custody situation.
At Banks & Brower you will find caring attorneys who will take the time to understand your family situation and help you through your child custody matter.  The attorneys at Banks & Brower will work diligently on your behalf to protect your relationship with your child(ren).