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Child Custody in Indiana

Child custody can be a complex issue, and it is crucial to understand the laws and regulations surrounding it, especially if you’re going through a divorce or separation. In Indiana, child custody laws are designed to prioritize the best interests of the child. Understanding the different types of child custody, factors that are considered in custody decisions, procedures for determining custody, and enforcing custody orders can help you make informed decisions.


Types of Child Custody in Indiana

There are two types of child custody recognized in Indiana: legal custody, and physical custody (often referred to as parenting time).

Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make important decisions about the child’s upbringing, such as education, medical care, and religious practices. In Indiana, courts typically award joint legal custody to both parents, but sole legal custody may be awarded in cases where one parent is deemed unfit or incapable of making decisions in the child’s best interest.

Physical custody/Parenting Time, on the other hand, refers to where the child resides and spends their time. If a parent has physical custody, they have the right to have the child live with them. Physical custody is often awarded in terms of ‘Primary’ and ‘Non-Custodial’ parent

Primary means that one parent has time with the child more often than the other parent, and non-custodial is the parent who has less than 50 percent time with the child.

Factors Considered in Child Custody Decisions

When deciding on child custody in Indiana, the court considers several factors to ensure the best interests of the child are met. Some (but not all) of these factors include:

  1. Best interest of the child: The primary factor considered in any child custody decision is the best interest of the child. The court will evaluate all the circumstances surrounding the child’s life to determine what is in their best interest.
  2. Child’s preference: If the child is old enough and mature enough to express a preference, the court will consider their opinion. However, the child’s preference is not the only factor considered, and the court will not base its decision solely on the child’s preference.
  3. Parent-child relationship: The court will consider the relationship each parent has with the child and their ability to provide emotional support, guidance, and love.
  4. Ability of each parent to provide for the child: The court will evaluate the financial ability of each parent to provide for the child’s needs, including housing, food, clothing, and medical care.
  5. Domestic violence or abuse: If one parent has a history of domestic violence or abuse, the court will consider this factor when making a child custody decision.

Procedures for Determining Child Custody in Indiana

There are several procedures available for determining child custody in Indiana. These include:

  1. Mediation: Mediation is a process in which parents work with a neutral third-party mediator to negotiate a custody agreement. Mediation is typically less expensive and less adversarial than going to court.
  2. Court hearings: If mediation is unsuccessful, parents may go to court, where a judge will make a custody decision based on the evidence presented.
  3. Guardian Ad Litem: In some cases, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to investigate the family and to evaluate the child’s circumstances and make a recommendation to the court. A GAL’s recommendations are not the only factor the Court will consider but they can have a major impact on your case and are helpful in particularly complicated cases.

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Modifying Child Custody in Indiana

In Indiana, a custody order can be modified if there is a “substantial and continuing change in circumstances”. This change must be significant enough to warrant a change in the custody arrangement. Additionally, the court will consider whether the modification is in the best interest of the child.


Enforcement of Child Custody Orders in Indiana

If a parent violates a custody order, there are several options available for enforcing the order. These include:

  1. Contempt of court: If one parent violates a custody order, the other parent may file a motion for contempt of court. If the court finds that the violating parent is in contempt, they may be subject to fines or even imprisonment.
  2. Police assistance: In extreme cases, a parent may need to involve law enforcement to enforce a custody order. However, this is usually a last resort.
  3. Custody modification: If a parent repeatedly violates a custody order, the other parent may seek to modify the custody order to prevent further violations.




In conclusion, child custody rights in Indiana are designed to prioritize the best interests of the child. Understanding the different types of custody, factors considered in custody decisions, procedures for determining custody, and enforcement of custody orders can help parents make informed decisions when going through a divorce or separation.

It’s important to note that each case is unique, and the court will evaluate all the circumstances surrounding the child’s life to make a custody decision. Seeking the advice of an experienced family law attorney can help you navigate the legal system and ensure your rights are protected.

Ultimately, the best interest of the child should always be the top priority when making custody decisions. By working together and putting the child’s needs first, parents can create a positive co-parenting relationship that benefits everyone involved.

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Keys to Justice – Changes and a New Path Ahead

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A Great Start

We've officially passed our first 6 months as an organization. Start-up companies and non-profits come and go quickly and the majority of them fail in their first year. But we've been blessed with great support and great clients that have let us accomplish so much already. As of the end of the second quarter we've talked to over 85 people who needed help with legal problems and couldn't find an attorney anywhere else. We've opened 43 of those cases in our first six months and we've been able to close out nearly a dozen. People have retained custody of their children, have been kept out of jail, and have found help where they thought they were all alone.

As a young but growing organization, we're experiencing a lot of growing pains, and we're all still experimenting with the best way to keep helping people. Our interns and attorney often volunteer an enormous amount of hours. Our staff attorney has taken a huge cut in pay to come help people with us. And we've discovered that our current structure is sustainable but will never provide us with what we need to grow, find our own office space, and continue to help even more people.

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Welcome to our first Staff Attorney!

Justice Unlocked is proud to welcome our first Staff Attorney to the team, Michael LoPrete! 

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Michael D. LoPrete has been practicing law for over six years, mostly handling cases related to Family and Juvenile Law. He earned his J.D. from the Indiana University School of Law in Bloomington, Indiana (now called the Maurer School of Law), and before that graduated from Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana. He’s got experience with the Department of Child Services, and is a Domestic Relations Mediator. Michael been a resident of Bloomington, Indiana for most of the last twelve years, ever since he moved to the city for law school. Bloomington is an easy town to fall in love with, and for Michael there was no exception. Michael is newly married, with a son in kindergarten.

We're extremely excited to welcome him to the team, and with his help we've already begun to be able to do real help in the community by taking in our first clients. He's going to be a valuable mentor to our intern staff, and we hope you guys make him feel welcome!

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Zombie debt eats lawyers’ ethics — and your money

Old debt gets written off, then sold, then parceled out to debt collectors where it comes back to life.

Source: Zombie debt eats lawyers’ ethics — and your money


This is actually a great article and an interesting look at the unethical practices in the debt collection industry. I remember the first time as a law clerk for a judge I got a filing from a lawyer who (because of state law) had to stamp a “This document is from a debt collector” on all their stationary. It shocked me at first. I had thought there was a clear difference between a debt collector and an attorney, but for many firms in this kind of business, those lines blur. Trying to help stop these debt collectors can be a full-time job all on its own, for example the consumer financial protection bureau.


Some firms are filing thousands of lawsuits a month to collect on consumer debt. Most of these lawsuits are baseless. Many of the debt collection practices are outright illegal. And they’ve almost never, ever, done the paperwork correctly and have a clear and legal claim of title to the debt. Often times, literally all you have to do is show up and say “Prove It”. But so many consumers are scared into paying, or just ignore these kinds of summons hoping they’ll go away. I know, I’ve been there myself. When consumers are unsure what to do, they need help stopping debt collectors.

The community in the areas that Justice Unlocked serves, won’t have to worry about ignoring this kind of zombie debt. We’ll be willing to fight for you, the lending industry may be predatory, but now you’ll have a friend on your side. The poor and disadvantaged populations that we serve are often the number one targets for this sort of unethical practices, and I’m really looking forward to doing what we can to give people help stopping debt collectors and taking their lives back – for less than they’d have to pay regular attorneys.

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The Justice Gap: Corporate Lawyers Are Making Record Revenues, But Legal Aid Is in Crisis | Susan Beck

There's just one legal aid lawyer for every 8,893 low-income Americans who qualify for legal aid. That's how, in a country with one of the highest concentrations of lawyers in the world, poor people often are forced to represent themselves in life-altering legal matters.

Source: The Justice Gap: Corporate Lawyers Are Making Record Revenues, But Legal Aid Is in Crisis | Susan Beck


The gap between the haves and have-nots in this country isn't just limited to the jobs market. It's in the legal market too. This article shows some statistics about how the largest corporate law firms protecting big businesses have improved profits and raked in multi-million dollar bonuses while legal aid funding for the poor has dropped by nearly half over the last decade. Public funding is hard to come by, and private donations have fallen to, it's just harder to get people to give money these days.

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DIscounted Legal Services from Justice Unlocked

Discounted Legal Services From Justice Unlocked

DIscounted Legal Services from Justice Unlocked

How does the law even work?

How will discounted legal services work? How will we decide who gets to use our services? Just how much of a discount is "discounted"? Basically, people want to know, exactly what are we going to be doing with our new organization? And in today's blog post, I'm going to break that down for you.

The whole idea behind Justice Unlocked is getting people who want an attorney help, even when they normally can't afford one. If your matter is civil (like most protective orders, divorces, or business disputes are) then you don't get a free lawyer from the courts. Legal Aid societies might not be able to help you either. There's a lot of people who make "too much" money to get help from these programs, but who don't make enough to afford a quality attorney.

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