Thursday, September 4, 2008

Changing Custody FAQ

When Can I Ask for a Change of Custody?

Before a change of custody is granted, the Court must find that there has been a substantial and continuing change in circumstances, and it is in the best interest of the child that custody be changed. Unless the parties can come to an agreement to change custody, this is no easy task. Under Indiana law, the person requesting the change in custody has the burden of proving that the change is in the best interests of the child.

Determining The Best Environment For Your Child

When a child lives with one parent, the custodial parent has established the custodial environment. This means that the child looks to that parent for guidance, discipline, the necessities of life and parental comfort. When one parent has established the custodial environment, the non-custodial parent must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that there has been a substantial and continuing change in circumstances, and that it is in the best interest of the child to remove him or her from the established environment and into a new one. The Court’s do not take such requests lightly.

In a custody dispute, it is typically not enough to state that the child wants to live with you, or that you can better financially support the child. There are a number of factors the Court considers in reaching its decision, including the following items:

  • The wishes of the child’s parent or parents;
  • The wishes of the child, with more consideration given to the child’s wishes if the child is at least 14 years of age;
  • The interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child’s parent or parents, the child’s siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest;
  • The child’s adjustment to the child’s home, school, and community;
  • The mental and physical health of the individuals involved;
  • Evidence of a pattern of domestic violence by either parent;
  • Any other factor considered by the Court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.
In a custody dispute, the Court may make a ruling on each of the above conditions, but typically will not. Although you may believe the factors to be in your favor, without substantial proof regarding the allegations you may make, a change of custody is not likely to occur.

If you are wanting more information on child custody, follow the link below to more article on child custody. If you need an Indiana lawyer for your custody case, give me a call.

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