Child Custody Attorney Carmel & Indianapolis
Carmel, IN Attorneys Addressing All of Your Custody, Child Support & Visitation Questions and Concerns
Going through a divorce when the two of you share a child or children together is much more complicated than most other forms of divorce. Not only do you and your ex-spouse need to think about what benefits you two the most, but you have to now think about what is right for your children.
Instead of facing this troubling time alone, or trying to force yourself to work with an ex you might want nothing to do with, allow our Carmel and Indianapolis child custody lawyers from Hollingsworth Roberts Means to come to your assistance. In addition to creating custody, support, and visitation orders, we can also assist with modifying custody and modifying support orders. Established in 2004 and comprised of an eclectic team of diverse minds, we believe we should be your first choice for legal counsel.
What Is Legal Versus Physical Custody? Will I Receive Partial or Full Custody?
Indiana State legislation recognizes two distinct forms of custody over a child: physical and legal, as well as full and partial. Both are critical for your divorce proceedings and will heavily influence all of your lives going forward. Be sure you fully understand your child custody agreement and how it pertains to all forms of custody before you sign anything. Speak to your child custody attorney in Indianapolis if you are uncertain.
Consider the following four definitions of custody:
- Physical: Determines where your child will live, go to school, and generally spend their time.
- Legal: Determines how significant life decisions, like upbringing and medical care, are chosen and handled.
- Full: You get final say in most decisions relative to your child, regardless of how the other parent feels, and your child lives with you and only you. The other parent must request visitation to see their child.
- Shared: Your child will live with you and the other parents, determined by a parenting time schedule. Major life decisions will require input from the two of you, unless an emergency dictates otherwise.
Example: If you have shared physical custody but full legal custody of your child, your child may live with you during the weekdays but with your ex-spouse during the weekend. Despite this split time table, you will be the only one permitted to make difficult choices about their life and upbringing.
Different Kinds of Child Custody in Indiana
Child custody splits into two different categories, legal custody, and physical custody. Legal custody grants the custodian the right to make decisions for a child’s life; physical custody grants the custodian overnight care privileges for a child. Let’s examine each type of custody separately.
Legal custody lets a custodian make life choices for his or her child.
Legal custody lets a custodian decide the following:
- If and when the child receives medical treatment (outside of emergency situations);
- Where the child will go to school; and
- What religion (if any) the child is affiliated with.
One parent can have sole legal custody of a child, where he or she makes all legal decisions; or both parents can split legal custody and work together to make legal decisions. However, physical custody is something different entirely.
Physical custody lets a custodian have overnight care privileges of a child. Essentially, physical custody is equated to a child living with the custodian.
One parent can have sole physical custody, which means the child lives with the custodian, and the other parent only visits the child; or the parents can split physical custody, where the child lives with both parents.
A custodian cannot have legal custody of a child if he or she does not have physical custody, but a custodian can have physical custody of a child without having legal custody.
Indiana Custody & Child Support Agreements
Although child support and child custody agreements are less complicated than property division processes, they are understandably more emotional. However, a judge’s job is to attempt to fairly divide the custody and child-rearing responsibilities between both parents.
Here are some of the factors that may impact child custody and child support agreements:
- Age and sex of the child;
- Interaction between the child and siblings;
- Child’s current comfort level in school;
- Health of the child and each parent;
- Child’s current home life situation;
- Criminal history of each parent; and
- Income stability of each parent.
Essentially, a judge will evaluate all the above and more through the lens of the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines (IPTG). Using the general guidelines as a basis, a judge will determine the child support and child custody scenario that primarily fits the needs of the child while also considering the needs of the parents.
Best Interests and Parenting Time Guidelines
The divorce courts in Indiana State are instructed to come to conclusions that are in the “best interests” of your children, not necessarily of you and your spouse. This means that their needs will be put first and foremost. It does not mean that you cannot persuasively argue as to why you deserve full custody, or whatever your aim may be.
A court will have to consider the following when determining your child’s best interests:
- Age and sex of the child
- Interaction with siblings
- Child’s comfort in current school
- Health of child and parents
- Criminal history of each parent
- Income stability of each parent
The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines (IPTG) will also be weighed when the court comes to a decision. These legal guidelines are seen as a last resort option when parents cannot agree to an amicable solution, or if they cannot convince the judge using their own arguments. Additionally, the guidelines are only suggestions and a judge’s discretion can become a factor in your case.
What Are My Options for Enforcing Child Support?
As part of your divorce agreement, you and your spouse should each decide who will receive child support, if anyone at all. In most cases, the parent who houses the child most frequently will win a varying degree of child support payments each month from the other, regardless of incomes. Trouble can quickly form if the parent ordered to pay child support refuses to do so, or inadvertently falls behind on payments.
If your ex-spouse is not paying child support, you may be able to use the following legal options:
- Wage garnishment: Sometimes called wage assignment, this is when the state extracts money straight from your ex’s paychecks and deposits it into your own checking account.
- Writ of execution: Not as violent as it sounds, a writ of execution is a judge’s order that seizes bank accounts, stocks, real estate, and more until child support payments are made.
- Civil contempt: You can file a contempt of court action if all else fails, which can create an arrest warrant in the name of your ex-spouse.
Compassionate Legal Counsel from Our Carmel Child Custody Lawyers
A cursory glance at the proceedings behind child custody, visitation, and child support reveals the underlying complexities and potential frustrations. Prepare your case with confidence by allowing our Carmel child custody lawyers handle it for you. We are well-versed with legalese, the law, and litigation, capable of standing up for your rights in court or in the conference room. We can also assist with child custody and support matters that arise from paternity and legal separation.