Divorces involving children and child custody cases can be incredibly complex and difficult legal situations to be in. You and your former partner will need to determine your children’s best interests through negotiations or move your case to the courtroom for a judge to create a custody arrangement. At the end of the process, you will receive a plan that divides your children’s time between both parents.
However, child custody arrangements are not permanent at the end of a divorce or legal proceeding, and the court may make changes to the arrangement based on the resulting circumstances. There are certain situations in which you or your former spouse may lose custody of your child in Indiana, even after the court finalizes your divorce.
#1: Child Abuse and Neglect
The primary goal of child custody agreements is to provide children with a safe living arrangement in their best interest. If a child could be at risk of abuse or neglect with a parent, the judge will typically not award custody to that parent.
However, the abuse may not be apparent until after the divorce is finalized, or may develop as a result of the stress of the situation. A parent may also begin to neglect his or her child after the judge issues the agreement. If the court finds that abuse or neglect is happening in the home, the parent may lose custody.
#2: Substance Abuse
Abuse of substances such as drugs or alcohol can put a child’s safety at risk in multiple ways. A parent who is often under the influence may act in violent or unpredictable ways, and may not have the capacity to care for the child in the way he or she needs. In addition, the parent may expose the child to substances, people, and behaviors he or she should not see. If the parent develops or has an ongoing substance abuse problem, the court may revoke custody.
#3: Parental Alienation
Parental alienation occurs during a divorce when one parent influences how his or her child views the other parent by making negative statements, giving the child inappropriate details about the state of the former relationship, making false allegations of abuse, and similar activities.
Due to this barrage of negative information, the child can develop a negative perception of the other parent, leading to a deterioration of the relationship. This act can cause irreparable damage to a child, and the alienating parent may lose custody if the court finds out this is happening.
#4: Custody Order Violations
At the end of a custody case, you and your former spouse will receive a custody order outlining how your child or children will divide their time. The court requires all parties to adhere to these requirements. If you or your former spouse violates a custody order, such as refusing visitation, the judge may revoke the custody of the violating parent.
#5: Unsafe Living Environments
It is the responsibility of the custodial parent to ensure that the child is living in a home that is safe, secure, and meets the child’s basic needs. If you or your former spouse are living in a motel room, a house or apartment, or with relatives, as long as it is safe and meets certain standards, it is an acceptable place to live.
However, if the child is living in a vehicle, the court may revoke custody of the child. The court may also revoke custody if the child is living in a home that is condemned or structurally unsafe, or if the child is living with anyone who has a history of child abuse or domestic violence.
Are you at risk of losing custody of your child in Indiana, or do you suspect your former spouse is committing one of the above acts? If so, you need an Indianapolis family law attorney on your side to represent your best interests and craft a compelling case in your defense. If you have not done so already, contact your lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case and begin strategizing your next steps.