Compassionate Indianapolis Family Law Lawyer Assisting Indiana Families with Child Custody and Child Support Issues
Your children are very important to you, and you always want what’s best for them. However, sometimes, what is best for them is either not immediately clear or is contested by the other parent. Whether you are going through a divorce or are negotiating child custody, parenting time, or support with the other parent, you need to remember at all times that your children’s best interests should be at the forefront of negotiations. With that said, family law issues like child custody are emotionally charged and very stressful. Oftentimes, your judgment and reasoning may be clouded by anxiety caused by your case. Therefore, it is vital to have a zealous Indianapolis child custody and child support lawyer on your side who genuinely cares as much about your family and your interests as you do.
Eskew Law LLC has seen first-hand what divorce can do to a family. We are here for you during these trying times. We will strive to help facilitate the child custody, parenting time, or support process so that you can focus on caring for your children. In addition, we can act as an intermediary between you and the other parent’s counsel to allow negotiations to remain level-headed and professional. With Eskew Law LLC’s team of skilled Indianapolis child custody and child support attorneys, you will be impressed with the kinds of results you will see. To discuss how to best proceed with your child custody, support, or parenting time dispute, call Eskew Law LLC today at (317) 974-0177 or contact us online. We serve clients located in Indianapolis, as well as throughout Central Indiana.
While many parents worry that courts favor mothers, Indiana county courts focus instead on the best interests of the child. This means that the court will never favor one parent over the other and will never assume one would make a better parent simply based on whether that parent is the mother or father.
When you parent a child, you and the other parent share parenting rights. When you divorce or were never married in the first place, you will need to decide how custody and parenting time will work. You can come to an agreement with the other parent on your own by drafting a child custody agreement. This agreement will spell out who has legal and physical custody, when parenting time is to occur, who is responsible for making which decisions, and who is responsible for paying what costs of the child’s upbringing.
If you cannot agree, the court will intervene, making your decision to hire a knowledgeable Indianapolis child custody and child support lawyer of the utmost importance. The court will look at:
- The child’s preferences with more emphasis given to children’s wishes when they are over 14
- The parents’ preferences
- The age and gender of the child
- The relationships between the child and the parents, siblings, and other family members
- The child’s school, extracurricular activities, and community involvement
- Any medical, psychological, or emotional issues of the child
- The criminal history or domestic violence record of either parent
- The mental health of the parents
- The wishes of any de facto custodian
Child custody is not exclusively for the parents. There is a narrow set of options where a third party may petition to intervene and request custody of a child. When a parent and non-parent both wish for custody, the court will favor the parent absent extraordinary circumstances.
Custody allows a parent to make important legal decisions and choices regarding the upbringing of the child, such as where the child will go to school, what religion the child will be brought up in, and what sort of health care the child will receive. Joint legal custody gives both parents equal say. Parents do not have to agree on every aspect to share legal custody, but should be able to communicate and discuss peacefully the best interest of the child. Primary physical custody gives one parent at least one more day of physical custody than the other. Primary physical custody is subject to the parenting time of the other parent.
Child Parenting Time
When a parent does not have primary physical custody of the child, the parent is known as the non-custodial parent. This parent still has parenting rights, including the right to see their child, access to school and medical records. The court will therefore devise a parenting time schedule absent extraordinary factors, such as a history of abuse or neglect. Thus, if parenting time would negatively affect the child’s psychological, emotional, or physical health, the court will generally put in place a plan to allow the non-custodial parent to increase parenting time through a series of benchmarks such as parenting courses, drug treatment programs, supervised parenting time, etc.
Indiana courts follow the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines when crafting a reasonable parenting time schedule. These guidelines cover relocation, medical emergencies, changing the schedule, resolving problems, when overnight or holiday stay is appropriate, how to handle distance, and what a child’s basic needs are.
The parenting time schedule presumes overnight, unsupervised visits in which the child is left with the non-custodial for a prolonged period of time. However, various facts in each case may instead allow for only short-term unsupervised visits, such as during daytime hours. Other schedules require the custodial parent’s presence, and for even stricter schedules, the visit may occur only under court-ordered supervision. The judge will evaluate the relationship between the parents and child, any history of criminal activity or domestic violence, and the health of the child when creating a parenting time schedule. The goal in each case, however, is to return the child and parent to the minimum time afforded by the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines.
The courts presume that parents share equal responsibility for the financial costs of raising a child. When the couple is not married or is going through a divorce, however, it is mandated that the couple determines how the child’s basic necessities and upbringing are to be provided for. If the parties cannot agree through a child support agreement, the court will intervene.
The custodial parent can receive child support from the non-custodial parent. This is because the courts assume that the custodial parent is bearing most or all of the costs of raising the child upfront. Child support is designed to reimburse the custodial parent for these costs.
The courts use the Indiana Child Support Guidelines to help them determine what amount to order. These guidelines provide a worksheet that allows the judge to calculate the costs of childcare and necessities based on the child’s needs and the parents’ income. The judge will consider:
- The parent’s sources of income and amounts of gross weekly income
- Work Related Day Care
- Health insurance costs for the child only
- The amount of overnights the non-custodial parent spends with the child
- Child support can be legally enforced once an order is entered
The order will set out exact amounts, due dates, and how the payment is to be made. The presumption is that an Income Withholding Order will issue from the court and wages will be garnished. If that is not possible, the payment can be made through the county courthouse’s clerk’s office. For both the payor and payee, this is the best option as there is a record of payments made which reduces the need for future court involvement. Additional questions you may have regarding child custody, support and the like can be addressed by a dedicated Indianapolis child custody and child support lawyer.
Modification and Contempt in Indianapolis, IN
If a parent fails to pay child support or follow the terms of the custody or parenting time order, that parent can be found in contempt of a court order. This can result in hearings and sanctions. Penalties range from simple reprimands to wage garnishment to incarceration. Attorney’s fees may also be awarded in addition to the aforementioned sanctions.
If you are having difficulty following the order or desire to change it, you can request modification through the court. Child Support modifications usually require one year since the last review and a 20% deviation from the current order. Parenting Time modifications require a change in the schedule for the child’s best interest. Custody modifications require a substantial change in circumstances. For example, if you had a material change in employment circumstances and now make half the income you did at the time the final order was entered, the judge may reduce your child support payments. Your work schedule may have changed such that weekends are no longer available for parenting time. Or, your co-parent may desire to relocate to a new state, which would support a hearing on a custody modification.
Contact an Experienced Indianapolis Child Custody and Child Support Lawyer for a Consultation
If you are embroiled in a child custody, support, or parenting time dispute, allow Eskew Law LLC to handle the matter so that you can focus on getting back to your family. We take this privilege and responsibility seriously for all of our clients throughout Indianapolis and Central Indiana. To speak with a talented Indianapolis family law attorney now, call Eskew Law LLC at (317) 974-0177