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Looking for Custody Lawyers in Indianapolis?  

Ask any of the top child custody lawyers in Indianapolis, and they’ll tell you: child custody matters are often the most contentious element of any divorce proceeding. This is because many divorcing couples have little understanding of how custody is determined in Indiana, or the implications of custody orders under Indiana child custody law. However, this can all be remedied by choosing to work with a skilled Indiana child custody attorney who is willing to explain the laws to their clients and tailor solutions to both their needs and goals.  

If you’re looking for the best custody lawyers in Indianapolis, look no further than the law office of Keffer Hirschauer LLP. Our attorneys are hands-on, results-oriented family litigators who can ably manage all your child custody matters. They understand just how emotional and challenging this process can be and strive to arm our clients with knowledge and unwavering legal support. To speak with an Indianapolis family law attorney today call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. 

Keffer Hirschauer LLP: Indiana Family Law Attorneys

Custody Lawyers in Indianapolis: The Basics of Child Custody in Indiana 

Anyone entering a divorce proceeding with children involved should take ample time to fully understand the basics of child custody in Indianapolis. This includes knowing your parental rights in Indiana, the difference between legal and physical custody, and how child custody is determined. Furthermore, it’s important to have a general idea of what the child custody process looks like and how custody orders can be modified in the future.  

Parental Rights in Indiana 

Parental rights in Indiana refer to the legal rights and responsibilities granted to parents concerning the care, upbringing, and well-being of their children. These rights include child custody and visitation; decision-making; financial support; and legal representation. Parental rights, however, can be subject to modification or termination by the court if the child’s best interests are not being served. Given this, it’s vital that every parent understands their parental rights in Indiana and seek the assistance of one of the best custody lawyers in Indianapolis before entering any related proceedings.  

  • Custody and Visitation:  In Indiana, it’s every parent’s right to seek custody of their children. Child custody can be shared jointly by both parents (joint custody) or granted solely to one parent (sole custody). Noncustodial parents typically have the right to parenting time (or visitation) with their children unless circumstances exist that may endanger the child’s well-being.  
  • Decision-Making:  Pending certain court orders, every parent in Indiana has the right to help make important decisions regarding their child’s upbringing, including matters related to education, healthcare, religious practices, and extracurricular activities. In cases of joint custody, both parents often share decision-making authority. However, sole custody gives the custodial parent complete decision-making power.  
  • Financial Support:  Parents have a legal obligation to provide financial support for their children, regardless of their marital status. In Indiana, child support is usually determined by the court, which considers a variety of factors when making the decision. This includes the parent’s income, the child’s needs, and the custody arrangement.  
  • Legal Representation:  All parents are rightfully able to seek legal representation in matters related to their parental rights, such as custody disputes or modifications of custody arrangements. This means parents can retain the services of one of the many custody lawyers in Indianapolis to assist them in navigating the legal processes and protecting their interests.  

Legal vs. Physical Custody 

Many people think that “having custody” simply means that their children reside with them; but most custody lawyers in Indianapolis would tell you that it’s a bit more to it than just that. In fact, the child custody laws in Indiana actually distinguish between who has the authority to make decisions about the children’s upbringing (legal custody) and where a child resides or spends time (physical custody).  

Per Indiana Code 31-17-2-17, legal custody is a parent’s legal right to make decisions regarding a child’s upbringing, this includes matters like the child’s education, healthcare, and religious training. When the court awards legal custody to only one parent, that parent is said to have sole custody. Alternatively, the court can award parents joint custody. In situations like these, the two parents must work together to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing. 

Physical custody, on the other hand, refers to the parenting time schedule, which, per Indiana Code 31-9-2-88.5, determines when a child is to be in the care of each parent. In Indiana, the parenting time schedule is not necessarily determined by which parent has legal custody. Instead, parenting time can be divided equally between parents, even in situations where one parent has sole custody.  

In matters of divorce, Indiana courts will use the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines as a starting point for determining an appropriate parenting time schedule. While one parent may be named as the primary custodian for certain purposes, such as determining the child’s school district, the parenting time schedule may divide the child’s time with each parent in a manner that is deemed to be in the best interest of the child. 

Your right to raise and spend time with your children is precious. Let the experienced child custody lawyers from Keffer Hirschauer LLP help you obtain the custody order and parenting time you desire. 

How Is Child Custody Determined in Indiana? 

In situations where two parents cannot agree on a child custody arrangement, a hearing may be called to have the court determine and issue a custody order. At these hearings, the judge acts as a referee and mediator, allowing each parent to direct their arguments to the judge, and will make the ultimate decision regarding custody. This removes some adversarial aspects of the hearing, and the parents will not argue with each other directly. 

While parents are well within their rights to present their case themselves, having an attorney provides a better chance of successfully presenting one’s side without violating any established rules of court. An experienced child custody lawyer from Indianapolis will know which documents, evidence, and witnesses to bring.  

Once all arguments are heard, the judge will then use the best interests of the child checklist to determine the custody order. Per Indiana Code 31-17-2-8, factors that must be considered include: 

  • The child’s age 
  • The child’s gender 
  • The wishes of the parent(s) 
  • The child’s wishes (with more consideration given to the wishes of children who are 14 or older) 
  • How the child interacts and relates with each parent, sibling, or other person who could significantly impact the best interests of the child 
  • The child’s adjustment to the current home, school, and community 
  • The mental and physical health of the parents, the child, and other involved individuals 
  • Evidence of domestic or family violence by either parent 
  • Evidence that the child has been in the care of a de facto  custodian. 
  • The designation in a parent’s or de facto custodian’s power of attorney 

De Facto Custodian in Indiana 

Indiana Code 31-9-2-35.5 states that a de facto custodian is a person who has been a child’s primary caregiver and financial supporter for a specific time period, depending on the age of the child. If the divorce court determines that one or more children have been in the care of a de facto custodian, it must also consider the following factors listed in Indiana Code 31-17-2-8.5(b)

  • The wishes of the de facto custodian 
  • The intent of the parent at the time of placing the child with the de facto custodian 
  • The extent to which the de facto custodian has cared for, nurtured, and supported the child 
  • The circumstances under which the parent placed the child with the de facto custodian, including whether the placement was to allow the parent to find employment, to work, or attend school 

Need to Speak with One of Our Custody Lawyers in Indianapolis? 

Let’s be clear: child custody disputes are often very emotional and intense. You’re fighting to protect your children and to preserve your parental rights. To ensure an optimal outcome in matters like these, you’ll want to hire one of the best custody lawyers in Indianapolis, like those at Keffer Hirschauer LLP.  

Our Indiana family law attorneys have the experience and understanding of child custody laws to ably protect you and your family. Whether you’re dealing with child custody issues in a divorce or simply need assistance navigating the Indiana divorce process, we can help. To speak with a lawyer today, call us at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule your free consultation.  


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Looking for Custody Lawyers in Indianapolis?
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Looking for Custody Lawyers in Indianapolis?
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This article addresses the topic of custody lawyers in Indianapolis and provides advice about finding the right one for your matter(s) of family law.
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Keffer Hirschauer LLP

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