Indiana is a no-fault state, meaning that you can get a divorce in the state without the necessity of proving there was fault by either spouse. That being said, when you’re dealing with custody of children, whether that be as part of a dissolution of marriage, post-dissolution of marriage, or in a paternity proceeding, various factors that would not be relevant for a divorce can be relevant in the Court’s determination of which parent should have custody of the children.
When a Judge in Indiana makes a determination of which parent or if both parents should have custody of their children, the Court is guided by the “best interests of the children”. That means that ultimately, whatever the Court finds to be in the children’s best interests will prevail in determining which parent should have custody of the children. Criminal charges and convictions can certainly impact that assessment.
There are several factors that the Court is permitted to look at and analyze when determining what is in the children’s best interests. A few of those factors include the interaction and interrelationship of the children with the children’s parents, the mental and physical health of all individuals involved, and evidence of a pattern of domestic or family violence by either parent. Underlying criminal charges and allegations will likely be reviewed and weighed by a Judge when making a child custody determination.
Additionally, particular charges could have an impact on a parent’s parenting time or visitation with their children. For example, if a parent has been convicted of a crime involving domestic or family violence that was witnessed or heard by a child, there is a presumption that the Court must order that parent’s parenting time to be supervised for at least one year and not more than two years following the crime involving domestic or family violence. This presumption can be rebutted by the parent.
In other instances, for a Judge to restrict a parent’s parenting time with their children, the Judge must find that the parenting time would endanger the children’s physical health or significantly impair the children’s emotional development. Depending on the nature of a charge or conviction, this could certainly have an impact on what a Judge determines in terms of the health and well-being of a parent’s children. Allegations that involve children, specifically the parent’s own children, will more likely be scrutinized than charges that do not involve children.
Having an advocate who has experience in both areas of law can help you protect yourself, not only with your criminal case, but also with your custody case. If you have a custody case and are facing criminal charges or have criminal convictions on your record, give the family law and criminal defense attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC a call at (317) 870-0019. You can schedule a consultation to discuss how the criminal charges or convictions will impact your child custody case and discuss the best avenue to take in both matters.