< Back to Noblesville, IN Family Law Attorneys page
Noblesville, IN Child Custody Attorneys
When you become a parent, your priorities shift. Everything you thought was vital suddenly becomes less important than your child. Everything you do is to ensure your child has a happy, healthy life. But your intentions and goals may hit hurdles when you and your child’s other parent can’t agree on a parenting plan. Whether you are in the midst of a divorce or never married, it can be a challenge to agree on what is best for your children. Though you may both have the best of intentions, and you may even have the same end goal, you two may not agree on a practical plan to meet those objectives. Whether you are going through a child custody battle or just need to make formal arraignments, you should work with a Noblesville child custody lawyer to facilitate a smooth and stable process.
At GDS Law Group, our Noblesville family law attorneys are extremely knowledgeable regarding Indiana child custody laws. We are also passionate about finding the best course of action for you, your children, and your family as a whole. Let our experienced and driven custody lawyers explain your and the other parent’s rights as well as all of your legal options. Then, we will represent you in pursuing the best possible parenting plan for your family.
To talk about how we can help establish child custody or how to obtain a child custody modification, contact GDS Law Group through our online form, or call 317-550-5339. We offer free, no-risk consultations.
Understanding Child Custody in Noblesville, IN
When you are a legal parent to a child, whether you are a biological or adoptive parent, you have a right to be in your child’s life. You have a right to legal and physical custody of your child. This right is not disputed when you and your child’s other parent are in a partnership. However, if you are unmarried or going through a divorce, you have to address the practical and legal matters of where the child is going to live, and who will make decisions for the child.
You and the child’s other parent have the right to determine a parenting plan together. You can come up with a custody arrangement yourselves, or many parents work out a plan through mediation. If you are already part of a child custody case in Hamilton County, your plan must be approved by the judge.
If you and your child’s other parent are trying to work out a custody arrangement without a court battle, you should still have a lawyer. Our child custody attorneys can help you understand your rights and legal options, and we can point out compromises you may not have thought of.
Child Custody Laws in Indiana
Indiana’s child custody laws are found in Article 17 of Title 31 of the Indiana Code. These laws determine when and where you can file a child custody action and how a judge determines the best child custody arrangement.
Under IC §31-17-2-8, the court determines custody in accordance with the best interests of the child. There is no presumption in favor of either parent. Despite many people’s belief, judges do not assume mothers make the best parents, even for very young children.
To decide what is in a child’s best interests, the judge will consider:
- The age and sex of the child;
- The parents’ wishes;
- The child’s wishes, with more consideration being given to children who are at least 14-years-old;
- The interaction and interrelationship of the child with their parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect their best’s interests;
- The child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community;
- The mental and physical health of everyone involved;
- Any evidence of domestic or family violence by either parent;
- Any evidence that the child has been cared for by a de facto custodian; and
- A designation in a power of attorney of the child’s parent or a person found to be a de facto custodian of the child.
Keep in mind, there are two types of custody: legal and physical. Legal custody gives one or both parents the right to make medical, educational, and religious decisions for a child. Physical custody corresponds to which parent is responsible for taking daily care of the child. For both types of custody, one parent may have full custody, or it may be divided. If physical custody is not split equally, then one parent is named the primary custodian. The other parent’s time with the child is known as parenting time, though most people refer to it as visitation. Whether you receive full custody, joint custody, or parenting time depends on what the judge believes is best for the child.
Child Custody Laws for Unmarried Parents in Noblesville
There is a common myth that a parent’s right to custody, especially a father’s, is diminished when they are not married to the child’s other parent. This is not true. As a baseline, both legal parents have a right to legal and physical custody to their child, which can only be limited by a court order.
However, when parents are unmarried, legal parentage may need to be established. Paternity is established in a couple of ways. The most common way is for a biological father to sign a voluntary declaration of paternity within 72 hours of the child’s birth. This may be done at the hospital, and then the father’s name is added to the birth certificate. If a VDP is not signed, parents can establish paternity at a later date. They may sign a voluntary agreement acknowledging a father’s paternity, or the father may undergo genetic testing. A paternity test is necessary in child custody cases where parentage is disputed.
Once paternity is established, then the court will likely require you and the other parent to try to come to an agreement through mediation. This can be frustrating, but our child custody lawyers at GDS Law Group will help you through the process. We will help you negotiate a fair parenting plan. However, if mediation is unsuccessful, the judge will utilize the child’s best interests standard to determine custody.
If you are unmarried and need to establish child custody, you should speak with a custody lawyer about filing a child custody case in your county or where your child lives.
Child Custody Modifications
Once a child custody order is in place, it may work for a while. However, as your child grows and your family structure evolves, you may need the parenting plan to change. This is common, but that does not mean the change is easy. You should speak with a custody attorney about pursuing a modification in court.
Under IC §31-17-2-21, a judge will only modify a custody order under certain circumstances. To begin, you must show there has been a substantial change in circumstances that affects your child’s interests. Then, you must demonstrate that altering the child custody arrangement is now aligned with your child’s updated best interests.
This can be a difficult standard to overcome. A judge will not change a custody order simply because a new schedule would be more convenient. This is why you should always speak with a Noblesville child custody lawyer first. We will review your circumstances and advise you of whether you are likely to meet the legal standard for a modification or not. We also can advise you on how to approach this legal petition to improve your chances of a modification.
The First Step is Contacting Our Noblesville Child Custody Lawyers
If it is time for you to establish or modify a child custody agreement, contact GDS Law Group today at 317-550-5339 or schedule a free consultation online. We are highly experienced family lawyers in Hamilton County, Indiana. We can guide you through the child custody court process, including mediation. Our priority is ensuring that at the end of the process, you can be confident that your child has a happy and healthy situation to grow up in.