Indiana Child Custody, Child Support and Visitation Law

The laws of Indiana governing divorce, separation, alimony, child support, child custody, and child visitation are generally contained in the Indiana Code at Title 31, available here(see especially Article 16 for child support and Article 17 for child custody and child visitation).

To fully understand Indiana law, it may be necessary to read and interpret statutes with case law and regulatory law. It is also important to know if law is up to date. For these and other reasons, it is always best to consult with a qualified family law attorney to know how the law applies to your particular situation. The following legal summaries are not intended as legal advice and should not be relied on as such. They are intended only as an introduction to the way that the law functions in these areas.

Child Support in Indiana

Child support is the court-ordered payment by one parent to the custodial parent of a minor child, generally after divorce or separation. A court can order child support in an action for legal separation, dissolution of marriage (divorce), or child support.

Indiana courts may generally order one or both parents to pay any reasonable amount for the support of a child after considering all relevant factors. These include:

  • (1) the financial resources of the custodial parent;
  • (2) the standard of living the child would have enjoyed if:
  •    (A) the marriage had not been dissolved; or
  •    (B) the separation had not been ordered;
  • (3) the physical or mental condition of the child and the child's educational needs; and
  • (4) the financial resources and needs of the noncustodial parent.
    • Indiana courts generally follow standardized child support guidelines in determining the monthly child support obligations of the parents. In considering the guidelines, courts consider the income of both parents.

      Child support generally ends when a child reaches the age of 21 unless the child is emancipated before age 21 or the child is incapacitated. For these purposes, “emancipation” means that the child: (a) has joined the U.S. Armed Services, (b) has married, or (c) is not under the care of the parent, individual, or agency assigned by the court in the order for child support.

      Indiana courts may modify or terminate the child support order if certain conditions are met (in whole or in part): (a) the child has reached 18 years of age, (b) the child has not been attending secondary school or postsecondary educational institution for the prior four months and is not enrolled in a secondary school or postsecondary educational institution, and (c) the child is capable of supporting himself or herself through an employment.

      Child Custody in Indiana

      Indiana courts generally prefer that parents come to an agreement themselves regarding child custody. However, if parents are unable to agree, courts will determine child custody.

      In Indiana, child custody is granted based on the “best interest of the child.”

      In determining what is in a child’s “best interests,” a court may consider all relevant factors, including:

      • (1) The age and sex of the child
      • (2) The wishes of the child's parents
      • (3) The wishes of the child (with more consideration given to the child's wishes if the child is at least 14 years old)
      • (4) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with:
      •    (A) The child's parents
      •    (B) The child's siblings
      •    (C) Any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interest
      • (5) The child's adjustment to home, school, and community
      • (6) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved
      • (7) Evidence of a pattern of domestic or family violence by either parent
      • (8) Evidence that the child has been cared for by a de facto custodian

Child Visitation in Indiana

Child visitation refers to the ability of a non-custodial parent to spend time with his or her child. Sometimes child visitation is referred to as “parenting time.”

Courts in Indiana place importance on frequent and continuing contact with both parents and will generally grant reasonable visitation rights to a parent unless it is shown that visitation subjects a child to physical or emotional danger

Parents can reach an agreement on their own relating to child visitation or the court can intervene, if the parents are not able to reach an agreement on child visitation.