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The Best Interests of the Child Standard in Indiana

Courts often use various standards to determine the outcome of cases pending before them. When it comes to child custody matters, Indiana courts use “the best interests of the child” standard to determine matters related to custody, relocation, and child support. In this article, the Indiana family law attorney, Chris Arrington, will discuss the best interests of the child standard and how it is employed by the court.

The best interests of the child standard in Indiana

When determining custody in an Indiana custody case, courts are required to employ the best interests of the child standard. The judge will review issues brought before the court and make a decision that they believe is in the best interests of the child. This creates a sort of checklist that courts are forced to employ when deciding custody issues. The best interests of the child standard requires a review of all of the following:

  • The quality of the emotional connection between the parent and the child
  • The ability of one parent to take care of the child
  • Time spent by the child in one environment
  • The moral fitness of the parents
  • The willingness of the parties to encourage the child’s relationship with the other parent

The best interests of the child standard considers factors related to the well-being, health, and care of the child. The best interests of the child standard requires the judge to consider the following factors:

  • The child’s age and gender
  • The parent’s wishes
  • The child’s preference (if they are older than 14 years of age, their wishes will receive more consideration)
  • The relationship and dynamics between the child and the parents, any siblings, and anyone else with an impact on the child’s best interests
  • The adjustment of the child to a new home, community, and school
  • The physical and mental health of the parties
  • Any evidence of domestic violence by either parent
  • Any evidence of care having been provided by another party

Divorcing parents can often agree to custody and support obligations without taking the matter before a judge. They can reach an agreement through mediation and decide most of the relevant issues themselves. The court will use this agreement as a guideline for deciding support and custody. The court must find that the agreement is in the best interests of the child before it is upheld and enforced by the court. 

The best interests of the child standard is not necessarily what the child wants. It is not even what the parents necessarily want. The court takes a look at the matter from the perspective of the children—not the parents. In addition, what’s in the child’s best interests may not necessarily be what they hope will happen. While the court can consider their wishes, they will ensure that the child’s wishes weren’t made capriciously and utilize sound judgment. 

Talk to a Danville, IN Family Law Attorney Today

Chris Arrington represents the interests of divorcing couples in Indiana. Call our office today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin going over key elements of your divorce such as property distribution, alimony, child custody, and child support right away. 

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