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When does Indiana allow sole child custody?

When parents divorce in Indiana, they must create a custody arrangement that reflects the state’s Parenting Time Guidelines. The state recommends that the child maintain a relationship with both parents through frequent, regular contact unless doing so would cause harm.

Review the circumstances in which one parent may receive sole child custody in Indiana.

Harm to the child’s best interests

Either parent can request sole physical or legal custody. However, he or she must show the court that regular contact with the other parent would harm the child’s best interests. To make this determination, the judge will review:

  • Any history of domestic abuse or neglect by either parent
  • The emotional, physical and medical needs of the child and each parent’s ability to meet these needs
  • The mental and physical health of each parent
  • How well the child has adjusted to his or her current home and school situation
  • The geographic distance between the parents’ residences
  • Each parent’s home environment
  • Each parent’s ability to support and provide for the child, as well as his or her history of doing so

Parent or child preference

Either parent can give up parental rights in Indiana, but doing so does not remove the responsibility to provide financial support. In this case, the other parent would receive sole physical and legal custody.

The state allows a child to express a custody preference when he or she turns 14. However, the judge has the final discretion even when accounting for the child’s wishes.

Indiana law limits the ability to completely remove a parent’s right to visitation and may order supervised visitation when safety concerns exist.