Do not view your child custody as a fight to the death with your former spouse. What is at stake is the future of your child.

When it comes to a divorce, an Indiana court is going to weigh the best interests of your child in determining custody. If you do the same, you and your child can benefit.

Your child’s best interests

Courts examine many factors when determining custody. Here are a few:

· Wishes of your child (depending on age)

· Age and sex of your child

· Mental and physical health of both parents

· Special needs of your child

· Stability of your home environment

· Custody of other children in your family

· Support of your extended family

· Relationships with others in your household

· Evidence of excessive discipline, emotional abuse or domestic violence

· Evidence of parental substance, alcohol or sex abuse

Your best interests

The goal is your child’s happiness, security, mental health and emotional development. Your role is proving you offer the best opportunity for your child to have a productive future.

The presence of both parents in court can cause friction. It is important not to get involved in any squabbles. The court may look down on your case if you are combative with the other parent.

Outside court, spend as much time as possible with your children. Be involved in their lives. Attend school events and birthday parties. Be on time for visitations. Tell and show your children that you love them.

Be respectful of the court and its instructions. If a judge wants you to attend counseling or classes, you may wish to go.

Be open and honest. The smallest lie, even if you mean well, can cripple your case. No one expects you to be perfect.

Your best alternatives

You cannot be certain what a judge is seeing and thinking. You might lose due to no fault of your own. Your ex may have presented a better case.

If you think you made mistakes in court, you may be able to appeal the ruling. Remember – your children’s future is at stake.