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Child Custody and Parenting Time

Indianapolis Child Custody Lawyers

Child custody disputes can be an emotionally draining experience for all parties, especially children. Indianapolis divorce attorneys at Broyles Kight & Ricafort have considerable experience in helping families through these child custody issues in Indiana. If you have a dispute regarding child custody (interstate child custody or international child custody), our experienced Indianapolis child custody lawyers can help you achieve the best result for you and your children in Indiana.

Indiana Child Custody & “Best Interests” Standard

Child Custody: In Indiana, custody of a child is determined by the “best interests” standard. The court must determine whether it would be in a child’s best interests to have his mother, his father, or both parents as his custodians.

Types of Child Custody in Indiana: Legal Custody & Physical Custody

There are two types of custody under Indiana law: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody gives a parent the right to make decisions regarding a child’s education, medical care, and religious upbringing. Physical custody defines where the child resides on a regular basis. Parents can share legal and physical custody of a child (referred to as “joint custody”), or one parent can be deemed to be the “legal custodian” or the “primary physical custodian,” with the other parent receiving the right to visit with the child.

Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines

Parenting time: Our legislature has adopted the “Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines,” which are designed to standardize the “parenting time” or visitation rights of non-custodial parents in Indiana. The Parenting Time Guidelines represent the minimum amount of time that a parent should have with his child on a regular basis, and also discuss parenting time during holidays. The Guidelines are designed to encourage frequent and meaningful contact between parents and children. There is a presumption that the Guidelines apply in all custody disputes, but a court may deviate from the Guidelines if necessary and appropriate.

To review the Guidelines, click here.

Contact Indianapolis child custody lawyers today to learn more about child custody and parenting time post-divorce in Central  Indiana!

The Indian divorce attorneys at Broyles Kight & Ricafort, P.C. recognize that the emotional and financial costs of child custody disputes can be enormous. Our family lawyers strive to achieve the best result possible for you and your children while working to minimize the expense. Although the best results are often achieved through informal settlement negotiations or mediation sessions with a third party, we are prepared to vigorously advocate your case at trial. To schedule a consultation with one of BKR’s experienced family law attorneys in Indianapolis, Indiana, call 317-571-3601.

Our divorce attorneys provide legal advice and representation to clients throughout Indiana, including: Marion County (Indianapolis,); Johnson County (Greenwood, Franklin); Hamilton County (Carmel, Noblesville); Boone County (Lebanon, Zionsville); Hendricks County (Danville, Avon); Madison County (Anderson); and Wayne County (Richmond).

Indianapolis Child Custody FAQs

How does a divorcing couple decide whether sole custody or joint custody is best for their family?

Legal custody is the right to make decisions regarding your child’s education, medical care and religious upbringing. In deciding whether divorcing parents should share joint legal custody or if one parent should have sole legal custody, the parents should consider whether they can effectively communicate with one another to make important decisions for their child. If the parents are unwilling or unable to regularly and effectively communicate with one another, it may be necessary for one parent to have sole decision-making authority, or sole legal custody. Additionally if the parents have significant differences regarding their religious beliefs or differences regarding appropriate medical care it likely would not be in a child’s best interest for those parents to share joint legal custody. It is important to carefully consider these issues with your family law attorney when making decisions about legal custody.

How does a joint custody agreement usually work? Is there a difference between joint legal custody and joint physical custody, or are they the same things?

While legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make decisions regarding a child’s education, religious upbringing and medical care, physical custody refers to how a child spends time with her parents. In determining the best custody arrangement for a family, it is important to consider a child’s relationship with both parents and how a child is used to spending time with both parents. The goal should be to try to allow a child to continue with what she is used to in regards to time with both parents. A joint custody physical custody arrangement does not necessarily mean that the parties will be equally sharing parenting time with a child. While it may be an exactly equal parenting time schedule, it may also include a situation where a child spends a significant amount of time with both parents, even if one parent has slightly more parenting time than the parent. Make sure you thoroughly discuss with your attorney your child’s experience and particular needs when considering the best custody arrangement for you child.

What are the factors to consider when dealing with a foreign court in an international custody dispute?

International custody disputes present some of the most complex and unique issues in family law. It is very important that you work with a family law attorney who has significant experience with these cases. The first step is to determine if the foreign country is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This is an international treaty that provides specific resources and remedies to help locate and return wrongfully abducted children. It also provides procedures for determining if a foreign custody order should be enforced by another country. The United States is a signatory to this Convention but the Convention will only apply if the other country involved also is a signatory to the Convention. The convention has very specific procedures that must be followed in international custody disputes so it is necessary to work with an attorney familiar with these procedures. If the other country involved in the custody dispute is not a signatory to the Hague Convention, it likely will be necessary to work with an attorney in the foreign country to determine if a U.S. Custody order can be registered and enforced in the foreign country.

How can a parent seeking to have his/her children returned to the United States avoid breaking international custody laws?

A parent seeking to have his or her child returned to the United States needs to work with an experienced international custody attorney both in the United States as well as in the country in which the child is being retained. It is important to determine if the country in which the child is being retained is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. If so, there are specific procedures that need to be followed to initiate the return of a wrongfully retained child. If the foreign country is not a signatory to the Hague Convention, then the parent will need to work with the foreign attorney to determine what other remedies or procedures are available to register and enforce the U.S. custody order in the foreign country.

If one spouse adopts the other spouse’s biological child while they are married, does the adoptive parent have the same parental rights as the birth parent during and after divorce?

A spouse who adopts the other spouse’s biological child during a marriage obtains the same parental rights to the child as the biological parent. This means that both parents are viewed in the eyes of the law as having equal parenting rights to the child. For all intents and purposes, the child is viewed as the child of both parents and the child has the right to be cared for and supported by both parents and to inherit from both parents. After the adoption, there is no distinction between the parents as both are viewed as the lawful parents of the child.

If the non-biological parent adopted his/her spouse’s child during the marriage, can he/she obtain primary or even sole custody during divorce? Under what circumstances is a judge likely to grant this request?

A parent who adopted her spouse’s child during the marriage can obtain primary or sole custody of the child during the divorce, as there is no presumption under Indiana law regarding which parent should receive custody of a child. Rather, Indiana law requires courts to make custody decisions based on the best interests of a child. The court will consider various factors, including the child’s relationship with both parents, which parent has served as the child’s primary caregiver, he child’s adjustment to her home, school and community, the physical and mental health of the child and the parents, and the ability of each parent to care for and provide for the child. If the adoptive parent has a close and loving relationship with the child, has served as the child’s primary caregiver, is physically and mentally healthy and can demonstrate that she is better able to care for the child than the other parent, it is possible that the judge would grant the request of the adoptive parent go have primary or sole custody of the child.

You serve as a Parenting Coordinator. What exactly does a parenting coordinator do? How you can help a divorcing couple who have children?

A parenting coordinator is appointed by the Court to assist parents in implementing and following a custody order. The main goal of a parenting coordinator is to facilitate effective communication between the parents. In assisting with communication between the parents, usually a parenting coordinator can help prevent conflict and can help to quickly resolve conflict between the parents outside of court. Most often parenting coordinators work with the parents to help outline a parenting calendar that reflects the terms of the Court’s order. Additionally, a parenting coordinator may help the parents make decisions about their child’s extracurricular activities, or about their child’s education or medical care. In working with a parenting coordinator, parents are able to minimize both financial and emotional expense as most disputes can be effectively resolved by the parenting coordinator outside of the courtroom. This allows the family to move forward as opposed to being stuck in constant post-divorce litigation.

How does the Parenting Coordination Process work once a PC is appointed by the Court?

The parenting coordination process in a particular case is governed by the terms of the Court order appointing the parenting coordinator. That order will contain specific topics for the parenting coordinator to address with the parties and will define whether or not the parenting coordinator can issue a binding recommendation on disputed issues. In general, most parenting coordinators will schedule an initial meeting with each party individually to learn the history of the case and to gain an understanding of the communication issues between the parties. The parenting coordinator will also ask each party to identify areas of conflict that the parenting coordinator can address with the parties. The parenting coordinator will then generally communicate with the parties via email or in person meetings to address conflicts on an as needed basis as determined by the parties. Most parenting coordinators will also work with the parties to draft and finalize a parenting time calendar for the upcoming year in an effort to prevent any disputes about the parenting time schedule.

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