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Child Custody and Indiana Law

When Indiana child custody attorneys refer to custody, they are actually referring to two distinct concepts. These concepts are quite different from one another. 

When a parent is granted legal custody in Indiana, that means that they have the power to make key decisions on behalf of the child. This includes determining where the child will go to school, decisions regarding their medical care, decisions concerning their religious upbringing, and decisions regarding extracurricular activities. In many Indiana divorces, parents are granted shared legal custody of their children. This means that both parents have the power to make key decisions on behalf of their child and often have to communicate regarding those decisions. 

Physical custody, on the other hand, is when a parent literally has the child in their possession. A parent may be said to have physical custody when they are visiting with their children. When a parent has physical custody of a child, they are responsible for the child’s daily needs. This includes providing food, shelter, and supervision. 

Parents may share both legal and physical custody. In some situations, the courts will award sole legal and physical custody to one parent. These can be situations in which one parent is abusive, has ongoing substance abuse issues, or otherwise is unfit to supervise and care for the child. 

In cases where parents are granted joint physical custody, the children may spend a significant amount of time with both parents. They can split time based on the visitation schedule. In other cases, the children may spend the majority of their time with one parent and only see the other parent on weekends or every other weekend. In that case, the parent may be said to have primary physical custody of the child. 

While these two concepts may sound similar, they are actually quite different. In many cases, parents share physical custody of a child based on the visitation schedule, but only one parent has legal decision-making power over the child (legal custody). This occurs when the two parents can’t agree on child-rearing issues, and the court sees fit to streamline the decision-making process. 

Emergency Custody Orders in Indiana

A third scenario may occur when a court determines that a child is not safe in their current home. In that case, the court may order an emergency custody order to remove the child from the home. When this occurs, the child is placed in protective emergency custody. A hearing will be scheduled within 48 hours of the court’s decision. Such orders are handed down by courts if a law enforcement agency or the Indiana Department of Child Services believes that the child is in danger and that removing the child from the home will protect them from abuse or neglect. 

Talk to an Indiana Child Custody Attorney Today

Chris Arrington represents the rights of Indiana parents during child custody disputes. Call our office today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin discussing your situation right away.

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