Divorce is the cause of stress and it affects the whole family. Habitual life changes dramatically and you need to adapt to new conditions of life. Not every spouse can cope with this, what to say about children who are experiencing a parents divorce. Couples in which there are minor children are faced with a number of questions that need to be resolved, for example, “Who will the child live with?” or “What type of custody is more appropriate?” In many ways, the decision depends on the spouses and the circumstances that have developed in the family.

Child custody

Custody means the rights and duties of parents in raising a child. Separation of custody is an obligatory part of a divorce for families with minor children. In Indiana, there are 2 main types of guardianship:

Legal custody – enables the parent to make important decisions in the child’s life, for example, in which school to study, in which hospital to serve or religion choice.

Physical custody indicates that parent has the right to have the child live with him or her, and the parent with this custody is responsible for the daily care of the child.

In turn, physical custody is divided into sole and joint.

Sole custody means that the parent is the main custodial in the child’s life and most of the time the child lives with that parent, while the second parent has the right to visit the child, but is not the child’s guardian.

Joint custody means that both parents share custody in a half and have equal rights. With such care, the child can live part of the time with the mother, and the other part – with the father.

Best interests of the child

Based on the Indiana Code Title 31 – Article 17, Chapter 2-8 through 2-13, the child and the favorable conditions for him or her – that is what stands in the first place before the court in the separation of custody. However, before it comes to the courtroom, parents can make their agreement. If they are ready to discuss all the questions concerning the child’s upbringing and find a compromise, the judge will most likely endorse such an agreement if it is in the best interests of the child. If the parents cannot agree, the judge will decide after analyzing various factors, such as:

  • The wishes of parents regarding custody.
  • The wishes of the child, provided that he or she has reached 14 years old and can reason sensibly.
  • Relationship of the child with parents or other family members.
  • Adaptability of the child to school and home.
  • Any history of child abuse in the family.
  • The physical and mental health of each parent.
  • The ability of each parent to provide housing for the child.

In addition, the judge may study any other issues regarding the family history, if he considers that it is important for  correct decision about custody.

However, when spouses divorce in Indiana, the courts prefer joint custody, unless this violates the safety of the child. At the same time, the court also draws attention to the ability of parents to find common solutions in raising a baby, as well as on the distance between the homes of the partners.

Visitation

The court always acts based on what is best for the child, so it assigns visitation time for the parents, even if they initially did not agree with this. It turns out that regardless of the type of care, any parent has the right to spend time with the child or make phone calls without the participation of the second parent. The court may oblige the spouses to share the holidays that the child must celebrate with one parent or another. In any case, the court makes a visitation in such a way that the child has frequent and prolonged contact with each parent. Indiana Parenting Time Guideline is used to resolve this issue. Spouses can also arrange their own schedule if both agree to this.

Parenting Plan

A parental plan is a form that divorcing parents of minor children must provide to the court. Each parent can prepare their own document or both spouses can do this in agreement. If parents refuse to draw up a parenting plan, the court will make it based on the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. In any case, the parenting plan will be made. This document should contain various provisions, such as custody and visitation, vacation schedule and holidays celebration, child care expenses, parenting strategy, how parents are going to contact each other, child’s education, including additional classes, medical expenses and insurance, college fees and so on. Courts expect parents to take the parenting plan very seriously. Try to take into account all peculiarities of your child in the preparation of this document.

Parenting Class

In many cases, the court requires the couple to attend parenting classes before the divorce is granted. These activities are aimed at helping parents and children overcome the psychological trauma caused by divorce. Most children experience a number of problems when parents are divorcing, which manifest as various psychological diseases, for example, neurosis, incontinence, and so on. Therefore it is very important that during and after the divorce the child feels protected and understands that parents do not leave him or her and their love not decreases. Depending on the situation, it may require the help of a experienced psychologist to help the child adapt to new living conditions.

Divorce with minor children has its own characteristics. But in any case, even if the parents cannot agree, it must be considered that the child’s mental and physical health should always come first. Therefore, if you and your spouse are in conflict, try to discard your hurt and claims to each other and agree on such conditions so that the child feels comfortable during the divorce and after it is granted. And the most important thing to remember is that a child is not a means of manipulating a spouse, it is your beloved baby, whom you must look after and protect.

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