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When can a parent in Indiana modify a custody order?

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2024 | Family law

An Indiana custody order generally divides the parental rights and responsibilities for minor children between two divorced or separated parents. Both adults can receive a certain amount of time with the children and also a degree of authority regarding major decisions about their upbringing.

Parents either negotiate with one another to set their own custody terms or litigate and take the matter to family court. In either situation, there is an expectation that parents should do their best to cooperate with one another after they have an official custody order in place.

However, many parents find themselves frustrated by the terms of an Indiana custody order, as it may not truly suit their needs. When is it possible for a parent to modify an existing custody order by making official changes to it?

When the parents cooperate

Custody modifications can be quick and relatively simple if both adults in the family agree about what changes should occur. Just as parents can set their own terms for custody when they initially separate, they can also cooperate to change those terms as family circumstances shift over time. Uncontested modifications simply require court approval as a formality and are potentially available whenever parents need to make changes to their arrangements.

When there have been major family adjustments

Not all co-parents sharing custody in Indiana agree on what is necessary for their family or best for their children. Sometimes one parent wants more time with the children or decision-making authority, but the other opposes their request.

Indiana family laws do allow people to request a modification hearing even when they do not have the cooperation of their co-parents. However, the law restricts the hearings to a very limited set of circumstances. Typically, the parent requesting the modification must have evidence that there have been significant changes in family circumstances. They need to convince the judge that the changes they proposed are in the best interests of their children. If they can prove that the situation meets both of those standards, then a judge might change the custody order in accordance with their request.

Preparing for a custody modification can have a major impact on the likelihood of success, particularly in cases where parents do not agree. Learning more about the laws that govern family law matters in Indiana, and seeking legal guidance accordingly, may benefit those hoping to adjust their current custody arrangements.