Indianapolis Child Custody Modification Attorney
How is child custody determined?
When children are involved in
divorce or separation, child custody must be arranged. It can be agreed to by
the parties in a settlement or determined by the court after a hearing.
The court must consider the best interests of the children when determining
custody. When a settlement is reached by both parents, the court must
still approve the agreement to ensure it places the child’s best
Can a custody order be altered once it is ruled upon?
No law or mandate is truly irreversible, not even if it comes from the
President of the United States. If you are not pleased with the custody
order the divorce court has ruled upon for your case, you can follow legal
guidelines in Indiana State law to have it altered, or modified. Modification
of a court custody order requires two things, though.
Child’s benefit: The alteration you want cannot harm or inconvenience your child.
Example: You cannot ask to stop paying
child support if that would mean that your child goes hungry.
Significant change: The original circumstances approved by the court’s original order
need to change drastically.
Example: You were ordered to pay child support because you make much more
than your ex-spouse but an unforeseen job loss has rendered your income null. (See below for more information.)
Can I agree with my ex-spouse to modify custody?
The easiest way to modify custody is by agreement. This occurs when the
parties reach a mutual decision that changing custody from one parent
to the other is in the best interests of the child. In these circumstances,
the parties would first enter into an agreement providing for the modification
of custody, then that agreement would be filed with the court for review
and approval. Even if the parties agree to a modification, the court may
choose to hold a hearing so the parties can explain why they believe modification
is in the child's best interests.
What if my ex-spouse does not agree to change custody?
Custody is often modified when one parent does not believe it is in the
best interests of the child for the other parent to have custody. The
party seeking the change of custody will file a petition with the court
alleging that there has been a substantial change in circumstances that
warrants a modification of the court's prior custody order. The court
will then schedule a hearing where both parents will be able to present
the necessary evidence to support their respective positions and modification request.
What is considered a substantial change in circumstances?
What precisely constitutes a "substantial change" is a challenging
issue for individuals and courts to assess. Custody cases are usually
very complex and the factors that may lead a parent to seek a modification
of custody are extensive. Common situations include allegations of physical
or mental abuse, significant changes in the financial situation of the
custodial parent, health issues of the parent or child, a contention that
the home environment provided by the custodial parent is unsafe, or the
relocation of the custodial parent.
What should I consider before seeking a modification of custody?
If a custody modification is contested (meaning the other parent does not
agree), then the parent seeking the change should be prepared for what
will likely be a contentious hearing. Custody modification proceedings
almost always involve allegations that the other parent is not suitable
to be provided with more time or maintain the extent of time that they
currently have. As a result, the decision to seek a modification of custody
must be evaluated with the utmost concern for the emotional impact on
the parents and child.
Retain an Indianapolis Child Custody Lawyer Today
If you need to have your child custody arrangement modified or are seeking
to protect the order from the other parent’s petitions, be sure
to call on Hollingsworth & Zivitz for support. Our team of seasoned
and compassionate Indianapolis child custody attorneys is fully prepared
to help with your case. We can use our years of insight to resolve your
case in a favorable manner!
Ready to talk about your child custody needs?
Contact our family lawyers in Carmel to discuss your best options. We can advocate for clients in
Indianapolis, Marion and Hamilton Counties and throughout all of Central Indiana!