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How do Indiana family courts make decisions in child custody disputes?

For divorcing parents, child custody is typically the most important issue that has to be dealt with in divorce proceedings. While it is wonderful when couples can work together to come up with a mutually satisfactory parenting time arrangement, this isn’t possible for many couples. In such cases, the intervention of the court is necessary and the decision has to be reached by the court rather than simply approved.

One important point that parents need to understand about child custody decisions is that the decision is not primarily about them. Assuming that both parents are deemed to be fit and there are no challenges to parental rights, the primary issue is not parents’ rights and interests, but what is in the best interests of the child. 

As in other states, Indiana family courts take into account a variety of factors when determining what is in the best interests of children. These factors include:

  • The parents’ relationship with the child
  • The age and sex of the child10
  • The physical and mental health of the parents and the children
  • The child’s ability to adjust to a new home, school and community
  • The wishes of the parents and the child, particularly if the child is 14 years of age or older

As can be seen, courts do take the wishes of parents into consideration, since that too is a factor related to the best interests of the child. It is important to remember, though, that ultimately the court is making the decision for the child’s health, safety and welfare.

In our next post, we’ll briefly discuss some ways an experienced attorney can advocate for a parent in the context of child custody proceedings. 

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