Many Factors Considered in Indiana Child Custody Cases

It was recently reported that Levi Johnston, ex-boyfriend of Sarah Palin’s daughter, Bristol, is filing for sole custody of their 3-year-old after the child appeared on a reality television show using a homophobic slur, cursing and generally behaving badly.Our Munster child custody lawyers know that he will probably need more evidence than that – as well as a good attorney.

Johnston was said to have been “disgusted” by what he saw on Bristol’s new show, and is fed up with what he said are strong-arm attempts to keep him from his son.

However, courts are generally quite reluctant to take a child away from his or her custodial parent, particularly when that parent is the mother.

That’s not to say it’s impossible, and parents do have a responsibility especially in extreme cases (i.e., abuse, neglect, drug use, an unstable home environment) to take action to protect their children.

Most family law judges are interested in establishing an equitable child custody arrangement from the beginning. This is usually done using the legal evaluation of what is considered the “bests interests” of the child.

Some of the aspects that the court evaluates will include:

  • The physical and mental health of a parent;
  • A parent’s lifestyle habits;
  • Whether there are risks of neglect or abuse;
  • Whether the parent is able to fulfill basic needs for the child, including providing food, shelter, clothing, educational and emotional support and medical care;
  • Whether a parent is able to provide a continuity for the child with regard to where they live, what school they attend, what religious organizations they are involved in and other social activities;
  • Depending on how old the child is, his or her personal preference may also be considered.

That said, there are several different types of custody. The two most common are sole custody and joint custody.

Sole custody is where the child or children spend the majority of time with one parent. As a parent with sole custody, you may be more readily able to get permission from the court to relocate and you will also have the right to make major decisions about the child’s medical care or education without having to consult with the other parent. Additionally, the other parent may not have access to school records, activities or medical records.

This type of custody is usually only preferable to the court when it is done to protect the child from certain risks presented by the non-custodial parent. These would include things like an alcohol or drug dependency or a parent who has an untreated mental disorder.

There was a time when sole custody was almost always awarded to the mother, but attitudes and tides are shifting in this regard.

Now, joint custody is the preferred option. Joint custody is an arrangement whereby both time with the child and decision-making regarding the child is shared by both parents.

Regardless of which type of custody you are hoping to be awarded, having a skilled attorney on your side is your best chance for a favorable outcome.

Indiana Family Law Attorney Burton A. Padove handles divorce and child custody matters throughout northern Indiana, including Gary, Hammond and Calumet City. Call Toll Free 877-446-5294.

Additional Resources:
Levi Johnston Wants Custody of Son After Bristol Palin TV Show, By Andrew Lu, Reuters

More Blog Entries:
Guidelines Proposed for Military Parents Embroiled in Child Custody Cases, July 24, 2012, Indiana Divorce Lawyers Blog

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