How will a judge make a decision about custody?
A judge will make a decision about custody based on what s/he thinks is in your child’s best interest. The judge will look at any factor that s/he thinks is important to make this decision.
According to Indiana law, when determining what is in the best interest of the child, the judge will look at:
- the age and sex of the child;
- the wishes of the child’s parents;
- the child’s preference for who s/he wants to live with, giving more consideration if the child is at least 14 years old;
- the relationship the child has with his/her parents, siblings, and any other person that might significantly affect the child’s best interests;
- the child’s adjustment to his/her home, school, and community;
- the mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
- evidence of a pattern of domestic violence by either parent;
- evidence that the child has been cared for by a “de facto custodian,” which is someone other than a parent who takes on a custodial parent’s role; if the evidence is sufficient, the judge will then consider the additional factors listed in What is a “de facto custodian” and can s/he get custody?; and
- if a parent, or a person found to be a de facto custodian of the child, created a power of attorney regarding the child, the judge will look at what terms are included in it.1
1 Ind. Code § 31-17-2-8