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Will a judge grant one parent sole custody of their children?

For a parent with minor children who is contemplating divorce, a change in their relationship with their children may be the primary concern holding them back from taking action. Many people worry that if they file for divorce, they will rarely get to see their children. Someone with a demanding professional schedule, for example, might imagine that the courts won’t grant them much parenting time.

Especially when someone has not served as the primary caregiver of their children thus far, they may worry that divorce would have a negative impact on their parental rights. Despite the scary stories that people sometimes share, the family courts should not demonstrate overt bias in favor of one parent or the other unless one parent is unfit or unable/unwilling to facilitate their children’s best interests and co-parent with integrity.

Children usually benefit from the involvement of both parents

An Indiana family law judge should make parenting decisions based on what would be best for the children. Exactly what would be best for the minors in the family will be different from case to case. In most scenarios, judges will seek to keep both parents actively involved by granting them parenting time and also some decision-making authority.

They also expect to see the parents cooperating with each other for the benefit of the children rather than putting the children in the middle of an awkward dispute. If one parent were to ask the courts for sole custody, they would need to have a very sound reason for doing so.

Certain family scenarios might warrant a judge significantly limiting one parent’s access to the children, including:

  • domestic violence
  • child abuse
  • child neglect
  • alcoholism
  • drug addiction
  • severe physical or mental health challenges
  • abandonment
  • incarceration

A parent seeking to convince the courts to limit the other parent’s involvement with the children would need evidence supporting their claims, such as police reports, medical records and other authoritative documentation beyond their own testimony. Provided that a judge agrees that the situation poses some degree of risk for the children, they might grant one parent parenting time only, not custodial rights. In some cases, the state will even order supervised visitation for the protection of the children.

Unless families have experienced extreme and unusual circumstances, the courts will typically seek to keep both parents involved with their children. Ultimately, learning more about what governs parenting decisions in Indiana may help parents feel more confident about their decision to divorce.