The court defaults on several positions when deciding child custody matters. One position it always defaults on is that the court is responsible for determining the best interests of the child. That may not always be what the child wants and in fact, it may not be what the parents want, either. Nonetheless, it is the foremost consideration for the court when deciding these matters. The following is an overview of child custody and the allocation of parental responsibilities under Indiana law.
The law makes room for two different types of custody. Just because a child primarily lives with one parent, it does not mean that the other parent does not have custody of the child. One parent may have physical custody, while another or both parents have legal custody. Legal custody is a different concept that refers to the right of a parent to make critical decisions on the child’s behalf. This includes the ability to make health care and education decisions for the child. When both parents have legal custody of a child, we call it joint custody. When one parent has legal custody of a child, we say that parent has sole custody. However, that does not mean that the other parent does not have visitation rights. It simply means that important decisions are vested with only one parent.
The reasons for denying a parent legal custody can range anywhere from prior incidents of abuse in the household to the fact that they simply cannot get along with their former spouse. In cases in which a parent is opposed to the choices of the other parent, it can create serious conflict for the family. The court must then weigh the child’s best interests against the parents’ conduct and will render a decision based only on the child’s best interests. Oftentimes, courts will enlist the aid of social workers or psychologists to determine if one or the other parent is unfit to have decision-making power.
Parents with legal custody have powers and responsibilities. They also have rights to make specific decisions for the child. In most cases, the decisions will involve what school the child goes to, what medical interventions they receive, and their access to religion or cultural institutions. Parents who do not have legal custody of their child must accept the decisions of the parent with legal custody or petition the court to review their decisions under the litmus test of the best interests of the child.
Your attorney’s job is to argue to the court how your interests are best aligned with your child’s interests. Often, custody issues can be managed amicably when the parents employ the same standard as the court. Other times, more aggressive tactics are needed. Either way, The Bellinger Law Firm has your best interests at heart when preparing your case. Call today to learn more.
Contact The Bellinger Law Office in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to learn how we can provide you with legal representation tailored to your precise needs. We listen to your concerns, learn about your case and act decisively to protect your rights. Call 260-428-2214 to learn how attorney Robert Bellinger can advocate for you. Or complete the intake form below to get started.