Indianapolis Child Custody Lawyers
Parents want the best for their children. During and after a divorce, however, the potential for conflict between the parents over child custody and visitation matters can deeply affect a parent’s relationship with a child.
At Ruppert & Schaefer, P.C., we strive to achieve workable child custody and parenting time outcomes that protect the rights of the client and promote the best interests of the child. We can address all your child custody issues, including:
- Legal custody and physical custody
- Sole custody and joint custody
- Parenting time and visitation
- Modifications in custody and visitation
- Parental relocations
- Termination of parental rights
- Child custody evaluations
- Paternity determinations
About Child Custody
There are several combinations of child custody in Indiana. We are able to explain all of the options and possibilities to our clients and help them determine which possible combination is best for their circumstances. We know that custody terminology can be confusing. We will help to break down the details of each and give clear explanations of legal custody, physical custody and parenting time.
We will answer all of your questions regarding the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. We also know, there are circumstances where the guidelines may not be appropriate. We will spend time with you discussing other options that may be more suitable for your particular case.
A Strong Advocate For Your Rights And Your Children
At Ruppert & Schaefer, P.C., we have the legal knowledge to advocate vigorously for your desired results in family law cases. Our negotiating skills often enable us to obtain workable solutions that are acceptable to both parents. In other cases, our lawyers utilize mediation to achieve similar solutions. When necessary, we undertake assertive litigation in an effort to protect our clients’ rights and those of their children.
Your child deserves an enriching relationship with you. We will work to ensure that your child custody rights are vigorously asserted. For a consultation with an attorney at Ruppert & Schaefer, P.C., call 317-660-8150 or contact us online.
Question 1: I want the Judge in my case to hear from my child. Is that possible?
Answer 1: Yes, that is possible. However, most judges want to shield children from litigation as much as possible, particularly if it involves their parents and/or guardians. For that reason, there are options other than calling a child as a witness to testify in a court case. One option is to utilize a Guardian ad Litem (GAL). A GAL is a trained individual, often an attorney, who is appointed by a judge to investigate the circumstances surrounding litigation involving a child. The GAL speaks to the parties, the child, and other individuals involved with the family, reviews documents and other materials relevant to the case, and prepares a written report which is filed with the Court. A GAL may also make recommendations pertaining to the issue before the court, such as custody and parenting time. Another option is an in camera interview. During an in camera interview, a speaks with the judge assigned to the case involving the child. The judge may ask the child questions about what they are experiencing to help better inform the judge’s perspective and decision-making. Typically, the parents and lawyers are not present for the in camera interview, and there is no recording of the conversation. In most cases, utilizing a GAL or in camera interview is better than involving the child in the courtroom atmosphere.
Question 2: Can my child decide where he wants to live when he reaches the age of 14?
Answer 2: The short answer is no. There is a common fallacy that when a child reaches the age of 14 he/she has the right to decide where he/she would like to live. Our statutes provide that at all ages a court can take a child’s wishes into consideration, but when a child reaches the age of 14 the child’s opinion is given greater weight. That does not mean that the child has the final say on his/her primary residence or how the child’s parenting time schedule should be arranged.
Question 3: My spouse has undiagnosed mental health issues. Will the court order supervised parenting time until he/she has addressed these issues properly?
Answer 3: Mental health issues have become a prevalent issue in family law cases and one parent’s belief that the other parent has an undiagnosed mental health issue will not necessarily by itself result in supervised parenting time. Many parents suffer from mental health disorders which could be situational. However, with proper treatment and awareness of the issue, that parent can successfully parent. The mental health of a parent is indeed a factor the court considers when issuing custody and parenting time orders. If a parent is concerned that the other parent is not properly addressing their mental health, that parent may request the court order mental health evaluations. Mental health evaluations can be a long and expensive process, and without other collateral evidence to support a parent’s concern outside of an evaluation, supervised parenting time may be difficult to obtain. Other collateral evidence could be that parent’s personal observations of a parent’s interactions with the children or third parties’ observations of the parent’s interactions with the children, including the child’s therapist, teacher or school counselor.