LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Jeffery Michael Haupt | Sep 14, 2011

Custody Modifications in Indiana

Let's make this clear, custody modifications are a tough legal hill to climb. You need to prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstances in the child's life and that it is in the best interest of the child that a change occur.

The first part of the legal requirement is that there has been a substantial change in the child's circumstance. Remember, this is the child's circumstance, not the parents. There are many court of appeals cases where a parent filed a modification based on improvements in their lives. Repeatedly, the Court of Appeals has stated that while they commend the parents for their improved changes, the statute requires that it be a substantial change in the child's life.

What sort of changes are courts looking at? The court wants to see things like changes in relationships at home (new step-parents and siblings, new girlfriend or boyfriend), changes in school performance (grades drop or behavior has gone downhill), the child is older (over 14) and their wishes have changed, etc. This is just an example of some of the items that a court may consider. But, remember that the change needs to be substantial.

If you have proved that there has been a substantial change in circumstances, then you must also prove to the Court that this would be in the best interest of the child. For instance, if the court finds that the custodial parent's new marriage has amounted to a substantial change in circumstances, the Court may still find that a change is not in the best interest of the child, because he or she is doing well in school and their community. The Court will likely side with the status quo over change in the child's life, if there isn't a reason to make the change.

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