Floyd County Indiana Child Custody Lawyers
Much of the time, custody of children will be decided as a matter of course in a divorce proceeding. But many times the parents were never married and there is no divorce. Or disputes arise about custody after the divorce is final. Either way, we can get you through it.
You will naturally have many questions and concerns about how custody is decided. Most people assume that the courts favor mothers in these situations. They used to, but now the equal importance of fathers in the lives of children is recognized and encouraged. It is becoming rare for one parent to be named the “primary” custodian. Even rarer still is the “sole” custodian. Joint custody is the norm.
Joint custody applies legally and physically. It means both parents have input in decision-making, and both parents have parenting time (formerly known as visitation). It does not always mean “equal” or “50/50.” Some parents can agree on that, but because of school schedules it is often necessary for one parent to have more parenting time than the other. Every situation is unique, and we approach each client’s circumstance with the tools best suited to resolving his or her problem.
They can and should be modified when circumstances affecting the children change significantly. The overriding concern of the courts, by statute, is the “best interests of the child.” Those interests are considered in ordering custody initially, and in modifying it.
When disputes arise, no parent has more rights than the other. The rights that should always be considered first and foremost are those of the children. In determining custody, the courts and attorneys refer often to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. These were created by the Indiana Supreme Court, and are updated periodically to reflect societal changes in parenting norms. Parents are always free to agree on different arrangements and schedules, but when agreement is elusive, the courts will fall back to the Guidelines.
The Guidelines, and often custody orders, refer to parents as either “custodial” or “noncustodial.” This does not mean that the parent labeled as “noncustodial” does not have custody of his or her child. The labels are necessary for two reasons: to avoid assumptions about whether it is the mother or the father that has more custody, and to identify each parent for purposes of assigning specific parenting time or duties. For example, in odd numbered years, the noncustodial parent has the first half of the Christmas vacation, and the custodial parent has the second half. This simply means that the parent labeled as the noncustodial parent, whether it be the mother or the father, is identified as the one exercising parenting time during that week. A “noncustodial” parent has all the rights and duties of a “custodial” parent.
Whether you are divorcing, ending a relationship with the parent of your child, or disputing a current custody order, you need help navigating the system. We are in that system every day, and are ready to help you.