How Is Child Custody Determined in Indiana and Kentucky When Parents Are Divorcing?
Both states perform what’s called a best interest analysis, and both states have similar rules regarding what is in the child’s best interest. The court usually looks at a number of factors, including the child’s age, the child’s wishes, the parents’ wishes, and the presence of any other people who have been heavily involved in the child’s life. If there’s a grandparent, aunt, or uncle taking care of the child, what are their wishes regarding the child’s arrangements after the parties are divorced? The court also looks at the mental and physical health of everybody involved in actually caring for the child. Have there been any domestic violence issues? Was there a period of time when one party behaved inappropriately toward the other party while the child watched, causing the need for counseling?
While the courts have these standard factors to consider, both states make it very clear that the court can look at any additional factors if they relate to either person as a parent or how that person might parent the child once the case is over. Lawyers are allowed to present these additional factors if a certain case requires, even though they might not be specifically outlined in the law.
What Are Some Differences Between Indiana and Kentucky When It Comes to Child Custody Issues?
Most states, including Indiana and Kentucky, will commonly have the parties share joint legal custody, which is more of a paperwork issue. This means both parents should be listed at the doctor’s office and at school, have access to information, and give input on major decisions regarding the child. Joint legal custody doesn’t mean that the child spends half the time at each party’s house. That’s usually an issue of physical custody, rather than of legal custody. When most couples argue about custody in these cases, they can’t agree on physical custody (e.g., where the child will sleep each night of the week).
One of the biggest differences is that Kentucky recently became one of just a few equal parenting states, meaning the court presumes that each parent should be able to equally parent the child. Instead of giving both parties equal time with the child, Indiana presumes that there should be a primary parent, or a primary physical custodian. It’s common in Indiana to see, for instance, the child live primarily with the mother and go to school from her home base, while the father has the child on Wednesday nights and every other weekend. Contrast that with Kentucky, where the parties more commonly have the schedule of one week off and one week on, or four days off and three days on.
What Sort of Visitation Agreements Can Be Awarded or Arranged in Indiana and Kentucky?
The courts first give the parties an opportunity to reach an agreement regarding their schedule, with the help of attorneys, mediators, parenting coordinators, or guardians ad litem. There are many professional ways the parents can get assistance on that, including counseling outside of the court system. We have many psychiatrists or psychologists who can provide those services. This gives the parties some control over their own destiny, instead of having a stranger in a black robe decide things.
The agreement the parties reach could be anything from the child spending 100% of the time with one parent to 50% of the time with each parent. We see every type of parenting schedule. Since we’re in a location where we frequently represent pilots with unpredictable schedules, we see some very customizable agreements. For parents who may not know their schedule until a month in advance, they might get on Zoom at the end of every month and work together, which gives them a level of control. If they can’t work together or if there’s domestic violence issues or safety concerns, the courts can be very restrictive and make visitation happen at a third-party facility, when appropriate.
When cases do end up before a judge, we advocate for what our client thinks is best for the child and work around their work schedule; in these situations, the child’s schedule can vary again from one parent having the bulk of the time to the parties sharing equal schedules.
We have parents who live across the country from each other, and they may do six weeks on and six weeks off. Some parents can’t imagine spending six weeks without their child, but that might be what works best for the child’s schedule. We see some very customized schedules that work for some people and may not work for other people.
For more information on Child Custody Issues in Kentucky and Indiana, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (812) 302-0539 today.
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