Published in Family Law by Yasmin Abdelhak Barker on July 17, 2023.
Divorce can lead to difficult decisions surrounding determining initial child custody and child support obligations. Additionally, subsequent custody modification cases are very emotional and complex. This is why it is best to partner with an experienced Indianapolis family law attorney.
What Is Considered the Child’s Best Interest in Indiana?
In the state of Indiana, child custody decisions are rooted in the standard of “the best interests of the child.” To determine what would be in a child’s best interests, Indiana law provides numerous factors for consideration. These eight factors are relevant to the overall care and health of the children involved. Indiana code section § 31-14-13-2, discusses the factors used to help the court determine which parent should have primary custody of the child, without presuming favor for either parent.
What Elements Do the Courts Consider as the Best Interest of the Child?
According to Indiana Code Title § 31-14-13-2, the court shall determine custody by considering all relevant factors, including:
- The age and gender of the child
- The wishes of the child’s parents
- 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
- The interaction and interrelationship of the child with:
- The child’s parents
- The child’s siblings; and
- Any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest
- The child’s adjustment to home, school, and the community
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved
- Evidence of a pattern of domestic or family violence by either parent
- Evidence that the child has been cared for by a de factor custodian, and if the evidence is sufficient, the court shall consider the factors described in section 2.5(b) relating to de facto custodians
What is Needed to Demonstrate the Best Interest of the Child Factors?
When preparing for a custody hearing, it is essential to understand what is expected of you and the other parties involved so you can plan accordingly.
Evidence and witness testimony to be presented at your hearing is one of the most important aspects of supporting your arguments. It is important to understand which arguments are available to you to try and reach your goals, and partnering with an experienced attorney will help you create and present the best strategy for your individual case needs.
For example, you should think about what questions the opposing party and their counsel, or even the judge, may ask. To name a few, common questions asked during custody hearings include topics surrounding your lifestyle, finances, ability to communicate and co-parent with the other parent, your current living arrangements, and your significant other if you are presently in a relationship.
Any witnesses you bring should be individuals who interact with both you and your child. This may include childcare providers, teachers, family friends, and coaches or extra-curricular activity leaders. It is crucial in your preparation stages to gather all necessary documentation to support your arguments and witness testimony.
Finally, when seeking to establish child custody, consider that the standard for awarding custody does not always match that the perspective of the parent or parents seeking custody. A judge will view the best interest of the child from the child’s point of view. Courts encourage when parents work together to develop a custody agreement on their own, or with the help of attorneys during the mediation process.
If You Need to Talk to Someone Right Away, Call Eskew Law
Partnering with an experienced attorney can help bridge the gap and act as a sounding board for your concerns as you navigate through child custody modification while protecting your interests and the interests of your child.
If you are dealing with a divorce, child custody modification, or navigating other matters related to divorce in Indiana, Eskew Law can help. Contact us today to speak with our compassionate and experienced lawyers.