When it comes to determining child custody, there are various factors that come into play. The needs of the child as well as the ability of each parent to provide for those needs are basic considerations, but there are other factors as well.
According to the Indiana Courts, the state encourages involvement by both parents, as children generally do better when they spend time with each parent. The parents can come up with their own parenting time agreement. However, if they are unable to agree, the courts will intervene.
Addressing the child’s basic needs
Whether the parents make the parenting plan, or the court does, they should address the basic needs of the child. This includes making sure the child knows that the parents’ divorce or split is not the child’s fault. Other basic needs include:
- Spending consistent time with each parent
- Being free from conflict between the parents
- Developing an independent relationship with each parent
- Living in a safe, secure and loving environment
- Maintaining relationships with other relatives such as grandparents or stepparents
Determining what is in the best interest of the child
Parents should also consider what is in the best interest of the child, understanding that these can change depending on the age of the child. The Child Welfare Information Gateway discusses what to consider when determining what is best in terms of a parenting plan.
These may include the health of each parent as well as the child, the child’s academic and extracurricular schedules, each parent’s work schedule, proximity of the parents’ residences, presence of domestic violence or addiction in the home and current living situation.