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Indiana Child Custody Laws

When children are involved in the end of a relationship, parents have to figure out which laws will apply and who will get custody. Parents must come to an agreement on child custody when they separate. These arrangements include how they will make major decisions regarding their child moving forward (referred to as "legal custody") and how they will share time with the child (referred to as "parenting time," "timesharing," or "physical custody," depending on the state). If parents are unable to come to an agreement, courts will decide the best course of action based on state child custody laws.

Each state's child custody laws are generally similar; Indiana, like all other states (except Massachusetts), has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. Indiana child custody laws recognize joint custody as an option for separated parents, as well as grandparents' visitation rights, and courts will generally consider a child's own wishes before issuing custody orders.

This is a quick summary of child custody laws in Indiana.

Child Custody Statutes in Indiana

Learn more about Indiana's child custody laws in the chart below.

Code Section

§ 31-17-1-1 et seq. of the Indiana Code

Year Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act Adopted

2007
  Joint Custody an Option?

 

Yes, § 31-17-2-13 et seq.

Grandparent Visitation Rights Recognized?

Yes, § 31-17-5-1

Child's Own Wishes Considered?

Yes

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Indiana Custody Hearings

If you and your ex are unable to agree on a custody arrangement on your own, a court may have to hold a custody hearing to decide on contested issues. In most cases, a judge will create an arrangement based on the child's best interests. Indiana family courts can consider any factor relevant to a child's best interests, and will generally give more weight to the factors that will affect the child's safety and well-being. Some of these factors will focus on the child's relationship with any siblings, and the need for consistency and continuity in his or her education, community, and family life. By age 14, courts typically allow the child to state their preference.

Other factors may focus on the parents, like which parent is more likely to take care of the daily physical, emotional, developmental, educational, and special needs of your child. The court also will consider which of the parties is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent, and nurturing relationship with your child. A judge is also allowed to consider whether either parent has a history of drug or alcohol abuse, any past or present physical abuse, and certain criminal charges and convictions.

Getting Legal Help with Child Custody

Child custody matters can be legally and emotionally difficult, and you may find it helpful to talk to an attorney. If so, you can contact an Indiana family law attorney near you to schedule a consultation. For more general information on this topic, you can visit FindLaw's Child Custody section.

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