Indiana Child Custody Laws Parents Should Know

Get the facts about joint custody, domestic violence and more

mother and her child cuddling in a park
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The courts in Indiana use several factors to determine child custody cases. Primarily, child custody in Indiana is determined based on the best interests of the child, which is the case in other states as well. Parents who wish to file for child custody in Indiana should first become familiar with the statutes in this state to improve their success of securing their child. Learn more about what is considered the best interests of the child and other factors affecting custody, such as a history of domestic violence in the home.

Parents should prepare themselves for what they'll likely be up against in court. 

Joint Legal Custody in Indiana

A court in Indiana will award joint legal custody if it determines that such an arrangement will be in the best interests of the child. In determining whether to award a parent joint legal custody, a court will consider the following factors:

  • Whether the parties awarded joint custody have agreed to this arrangement
  • Whether the parents are willing to communicate regarding decisions affecting the child's upbringing
  • The child's wishes
  • The geographical proximity of the parents and whether the parents plan to continue to live in close proximity

Best Interests of Child

A court in Indiana determines custody based on the best interests of the child. Factors included in the  best interests of the child determination include:

  • The parents' wishes
  • The age and sex of the child
  • The child's relationship with his/her parents, siblings and extended family members
  • The child's adjustment to home, school and community
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • The parents' mental and physical health

Domestic Violence and Child Custody in Indiana

If a court in Indiana finds that a non-custodial parent has been convicted of domestic violence that was also witnessed by the child, the court assumes that the parent's visitation rights must be supervised for at least one year, and maybe two years after the last incident of domestic violence, or until the child is emancipated, whichever event occurs first.

Modification of Child Custody in Indiana

A court in Indiana will not modify the current child custody order unless a parent presents evidence that:

  • A modification of custody serves the best interests of the child, and
  • There is a substantial change of circumstances that may cause serious damage to a child's best interest

Child Custody and Military Service Members in Indiana

Courts in Indiana will not consider a parent's active duty in the Armed Services as a factor in determining child custody or for modifying a custody agreement. However, if a parent modifies a custody order relating to active duty, the temporary modification will terminate no later than 10 days after the military service member returns from active duty.

For more information about child custody in Indiana, speak with a qualified attorney or refer to the Indiana Code. With luck, your research and your lawyer will help you have the best outcome possible in court.