An experienced child custody lawyer can help provide you and your children the opportunity to experience the fullness of life. Seeking custody of your children is very complicated and there are many laws that apply. Unfortunately, child custody fights can become very divisive and emotionally draining. Often, people will lie and make accusations to try and gain the upper-hand. Trying to help the judge understand your particular situation can be especially difficult because many different parties can be involved, like Guardian-ad-Litems (GALs), social service agencies, the court system, and of course the parties seeking custody. That is why you should have a family law lawyer on your side who can help get to the bottom of things and help the judge understand what the truth is.
One of the questions–perhaps the most important question–that the court wants answered is what is in the best interests of your children.
Courts take into account virtually every possible factor when trying to decide a child’s best interest–there is no presumption for or against either parent. Indiana law lays out several, non-exhaustive factors, such as: the age and sex of the child; the wishes of the child’s parents or parents; the wishes of the child, especially if the child is fourteen (14) or older; the interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child’s parents or parents, the child’s siblings, or anyone else that might significantly impact the child’s best interests; the child’s adjustment to the child’s home, school, and community; the mental and physical health of all people involved; evidence of a pattern of domestic or family violence; if a child has been cared for by a “de facto” custodian”; a power of attorney the child’s parent or a de facto custodian of the child. See Indiana Code 31-17-2-1 et seq for more information.
Sometimes, a person can be the de facto custodian of a child. In order to determine if such a situation applies, courts will consider: the wishes of the child’s de facto custodian; the extent to which the child has been cared for, nurtured, and supported by the de facto custodian; the intent of the child’s parent in placing the child with the de facto custodian; the circumstances under which the child was allowed to remain in the custody of the de facto custodian (this also includes several sub-factors). If a court decides that somebody is a de facto custodian, the court will make that person a party to the custody proceedings. In that case, the court will use the “best interests” analysis to decide custody. And if the court decides it is in the best interests of the child for the de facto custodian to have custody, then the de facto custodian becomes the legal custodian of the child. See IC 31-17-2-8.5 for more information.
Certain parts of Indiana law might also apply if a parent has been convicted of a crime that involves domestic or family violence. Ind. Code 31-17-2-8.3.
It is very important that you have an experienced child custody lawyer on your side that knows the law, has practiced in this area for decades, and can work with you to do what’s best for your child. Contact Indianapolis family law attorney Randall Parr to begin the custody process.
*See complete Indiana Code for all statutes. This is a partial listing only.