Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Child Custody and step-siblings

UPDATES IN MICHIGAN FAMILY LAW asked Should step-siblings be kept together?. Ms Hannah used this scenario:

"I have been frustrated in the past when a trial court has refused to place any weight on the benefits of keeping step-siblings together. Granted, while courts normally put a lot of weight on keeping siblings together, I've sometimes seen families where that was not an appropriate thing to do. Today, divorcing families not uncommonly involve step-siblings."
Frankly, I do not recall any Indiana cases having step-sibling relationships as an issue. No one can disagree with the statement that divorces with step-siblings is not uncommon.

Indiana law (IC 31-17-2-8) sets out the factors for determining the child's best interests in a child custody case. The list is not exclusive.

The court shall consider all relevant factors, including the following:
(1) The age and sex of the child.
(2) The wishes of the child's parent or parents.
(3) The wishes of the child, with more consideration given to the child's wishes if the child is at least fourteen (14) years of age.
(4) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with:
(A) the child's parent or parents;
(B) the child's sibling; and
(C) any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests.
(5) The child's adjustment to the child's:
(A) home;
(B) school; and
(C) community.
(6) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
(7) Evidence of a pattern of domestic or family violence by either parent.
(8) Evidence that the child has been cared for by a de facto custodian, and if the evidence is sufficient, the court shall consider the factors described in section 8.5(b) of this chapter.
I see the following as places where the relationship with step-siblings could come into play:
  1. As a generally relevant factor;
  2. 4(C)
  3. 5(A)
  4. (6)
All this depends on the facts and evidence of each case. It certainly does not rule out the evidence of step-sibling relationships.

If you are needing counsel for an Indiana custody case, I am taking on new cases at this time.

No comments: