What is 50-50 Custody in Indiana?
When two parents decide to split parenting time in a generally equal manner or choose to have joint legal custody, it’s commonly referred to as 50-50 custody in Indiana. While parents often believe that this arrangement is in the interest of the child, it’s important to note that courts may not always agree. In situations like these, the court may apply the best interest of the child statutory standard to determine a more appropriate parenting time schedule.
For parents who get along well and would like to co-parent in a cooperative manner, 50/50 custody in Indiana might be the perfect arrangement. But there are some collateral considerations to keep in mind too. For example, this type of custody arrangement could impact Indiana child support calculations or complicate future modifications to parenting time. To fully understand the Indiana parenting time guidelines, and successfully negotiate a workable child custody schedule, you’ll need to speak with an attorney.
The Indianapolis family law attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP stand ready to manage your child custody matters and help you move forward with your life. Call us today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Indiana child custody lawyers.
The Basics of Child Custody in Indiana
50-50 custody in Indiana is the outcome of an Indiana child custody agreement and could refer to either joint legal custody or shared physical custody. Therefore, to fully understand the concept of 50-50 custody, one must first understand legal custody and physical custody, and how a parenting time schedule is created.
Legal Custody in Indiana
When a parent is given legal custody of a child, they’re deemed responsible for making important, long-term decisions about various aspects of the child’s life. This may relate to schooling, medical care, and religious instruction, among other major child-rearing matters. If the parent is given sole legal custody, they make these decisions without the requirement of considering the wishes or opinions of the other parent. However, in some cases, the court may award joint legal custody, or what may otherwise be known as 50-50 custody in Indiana. In situations such as these, the parents must confer and agree on major childrearing decisions.
Physical Custody and Parenting Time in Indiana
When a parent is granted parenting time with a child, and that child is currently with that parent, they’re considered to have physical custody of the child. Although physical custody is not an official legal term in Indiana, it’s synonymous with the concept of parenting time, a schedule determined by the two parents or by the Court, using the Indiana parenting time guidelines.
When parents cannot agree on parenting time, the court will set an evidentiary hearing to review their respective proposals, after which the court will determine the schedule and make a parenting time order. Most parenting time orders are based off of the Indiana parenting time guidelines, which consider parenting time to be physical time spent with the child, telephone calls, written communication, and electronic communication (like texting or messaging). In addition, they are made with the child’s best interest in mind, which is determined using the standard set forth in Indiana Code 31-17-2-8.
The guidelines set forth parenting time schedules that vary based on the age of the child, as well as the proximity of the parents’ homes. For example, children who are older than the age of three and live near the noncustodial parent, the recommended parenting time schedule would include alternating weekends, one evening each week, scheduled holidays and school breaks. In contrast, for children ages 3 and 4, who live further away from their non-custodial parent, the parenting time recommendation would be four, non-consecutive weeks each year. Furthermore, that parent would need to give the custodial parent 60 days’ notice when using a particular week.
What You Need to Know About 50-50 Custody in Indiana
Obviously, children often benefit the most when two parties work together to find agreement and settle on a parenting time schedule that resembles 50-50 custody in Indiana. However, it’s not uncommon for parents to agree to a 60-40 or 70-30 schedule too. Near-equal parenting time schedules may work best in some situations, especially when considering everyone’s work and school schedules. Regardless, agreeing on a 50-50 physical custody agreement or another near-equal schedule will give children consistent and ample quality time with each parent, while still allowing the family some flexibility.
In situations where the two parties are in disagreement about pursuing 50-50 custody in Indiana, the court may need to step in and make their own determination. Indiana family courts generally want to promote joint legal custody and near-equal parenting time, but as stated earlier, they must make a determination that is in the best interest of the child using the standard set forth in Indiana Code 31-17-2-8.
If you’re in a situation where you and your former spouse are not able to agree on legal custody or parenting time, contact the child custody lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP. Our team knows precisely what evidence courts look for when determining parenting time order and can ably present the case that it is in your child’s best interest to award you 50-50 custody in Indiana, or, at a minimum, near-equal parenting time. Give us a call today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to set up a free consultation with a member of our family law team.
How 50-50 Custody in Indiana Affects Child Support
It’s important to understand that agreeing to 50-50 custody in Indiana may affect who pays child support and the level of support required. When determining child support, Indiana courts use the Indiana Child Support Guidelines, which considers the number of children that will be included in the order and each parent’s gross income. After that, the guidelines provide credits to each parent for child-related expenses, such as
- Child support obligations to other children
- Spousal maintenance obligations
- Work-related childcare costs
- Health insurance premiums for the children
- The number of parenting time overnights allocated to each parent
Given that each parent gets credit for every overnight stay that the children spend in their home, parents with 50-50 custody could dramatically impact the amount of child support the higher earner would be ordered to provide. Conceivably, in situations where both parties make the same income, 50-50 custody could result in no one owing the other child support.
Modifications to Parenting Time in Indiana
If a court order has been made for 50-50 custody in Indiana, that order shall be enforced until a modification has been granted by the court. Modifications, per Indiana Code 31-17-4-2, may only be made when modification would serve the best interests of the child.” The law, however, does clarify that “the court shall not restrict a parent’s parenting time rights unless the court finds that the parenting time might endanger the child’s physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development.”
If a parent who currently has 50-50 custody in Indiana would like to seek a modification to parenting time, they will need to submit a petition (ideally with the help of an Indiana child custody attorney) to the same court that presided over the original order. To be successful, this petition must demonstrate that, since the last order was made, the noncustodial parent’s behavior has created a danger to the child or has had a negative impact on their development. If granted by the court, a modified parenting time order could lead to supervised or reduced parenting time; parenting time that’s dependent on completion of counseling, rehabilitation; or complete abstinence from drugs and/or alcohol.
Example Evidence Supporting the Reduction or Elimination of Parenting Time
- Witness testimony regarding abuse of the child
- Witness testimony regarding the abuse of illegal drugs/alcohol while in the presence of the child
- Medical documentation/testimony showing that the child has been injured or sexually abused
- Records relating to the non-custodial parent’s criminal convictions
- Expert testimony on the negative impact of visits on the child’s emotional development
In contrast, non-custodial parents who are petitioning for 50-50 custody in Indiana will need to present a different set of evidence to the court. Most often, this is in the form documentation showing increased participation in the child’s life and increased cooperation with the custodial parent. This could include more active participation in the child’s academic life, attending parent-teacher conferences, and participating/volunteering at school events. It could also include showing that you’ve moved closer to the custodial parent or to the children’s school or showing that you’ve been attending important events and appointments in a child’s life, such as doctor’s visits, religious activities or counseling.
How an Indiana Child Custody Attorney Can Help You
Whether filing the correct paperwork, attending the final hearing, or somewhere in between, working with an well-versed legal team of family lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP provides you with the best chance at securing a child custody order that works for you and benefits your child. With experience in the child custody legal system, our skilled attorneys will ensure your case follows all the required procedures and will help you construct the best argument for the mediation and final hearing. Fortunately, should you disagree with the decision, we can continue to work with you to seek a modification of the parenting time order. Call us at 317-751-7186 or complete our online contact form to speak with an Indiana child support lawyer today.