During a marriage in Indiana, couples share a life together. This includes sharing the responsibilities of raising their children. However, if the couple ever divorces, they will need to split the responsibilities as they separate the other aspects of their lives as well.
When splitting the responsibilities of parenting their children, there are two main decisions that parents will need to make and if they cannot reach an agreement, a judge will ultimately make the decisions for them. These two main decisions are child custody and parenting time.
These two decisions will be made based on what is in the best interests of the children. To determine what is in the best interests of the children, the parents and judges, if needed, will analyze a number of factors.
Factors used to determine the best interests of the child
These factors include, but are not limited to:
- The age of the children
- The wishes of the children based on their age and maturity level. However, more weight will be given to the wishes of children 14 years of age and older
- The wishes of the parents
- The children’s relationship with each parent, their siblings and other important family members such as grandparents
- The children’s attachment to their schools and community
- The mental and physical health of the children and parents
- Whether there has been domestic violence in the home by either parent
When analyzing these factors, there is not a preference given to either parent and the decision is based solely on what is in the best interests of the children.
Child custody decisions in Indiana are very fact-specific. Each factor has to be analyzed based on the unique circumstances of each marriage and each child. Children have different needs and different attachments to each parent.
With most situations, the children did not choose for their parents to divorce and the goal is to keep as much consistency for the children as possible after the marriage ends. Experienced attorneys understand how these factors are analyzed and may be able to provide guidance.