On January 1, 2022, the amended Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines went into effect. Most notably, the amended guidelines establish a shared parenting model and discuss parenting time and custody during a public health emergency. The most significant changes include:
Communication with Child
- This provision was updated to include text and email, methods of communication which were not previously considered.
- A parent can punitively limit the use of electronics, but it cannot interfere with the child’s communication with the other parent.
Adjustments to Parenting Schedule
- Adjustments to the parenting schedule can, and should, be made if an event occurs that is outside the control of the parent needing the adjustments.
- Recurring events that necessitate continual adjustments to the parenting schedule should be communicated as soon as they are known.
- “Make-up” time is not a tool to deprive the other parent of holidays, or other previously scheduled events, with the child.
Custody and Parenting Time during a Public Health Emergency
- Existing court orders and schedules shall remain in place during a public health emergency.
- For purposes of interpreting a custody and parenting time court order, the child’s school calendar controls the parenting time schedule. However, if a school closes due to a public health emergency, the custody and parenting time court order shall not be affected.
- If both parents agree that there is a reason to temporarily modify their custody or parenting time court order during a public health emergency and modification isn’t otherwise prohibited by their current court order, parents may agree in writing to do so. However, parents must file this agreement with the court and the court must approve of the agreement for the agreement to be enforceable. If parents cannot agree or do not remain in agreement, either parent may file an emergency petition to modify the order to request a change.
Child Support During a Public Health Emergency
- Existing child support orders are still in place during a public health emergency.
- If a parent is unable to make child support payments due to the public health emergency, they may file an emergency petition to modify support with the court.
Holiday Parenting Time Schedule
- Children who are 3 years old or older, but not yet enrolled in school, shall have their holiday parenting time determined by the school district in which their primary residence is in. If parents share equal time with the child, then the district calendar in which the parent who pays controlled expenses shall determine the holiday parenting time schedule.
- For a child’s birthday, the parent who does not have the child for the child’s birthday shall have the child and all other children of the parents for the day before the child’s birthday from 9:00am to 9:00pm if the day falls on a non-school day or from 5:00pm to 8:00pm if the day falls on a school day. This provision only applies to children under 18.
Shared Parenting Plan
- Previously, the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines gave suggestions for a “Parallel Parenting Plan.” Alternatively, the amended Parenting Time Guidelines suggest terms for a Shared Parenting Plan.
- Parents who wish to split parenting time, but also wish to have separation from each other, may establish an alternative “shared” parenting plan that allows for specific provisions to form a healthy parenting plan.
- A number of factors are relevant to this decision and play a role in establishing a plan.
To find the full amended Parenting Time Guidelines, visit https://www.in.gov/courts/rules/parenting/index.html#_Toc84595215.
This McNeelyLaw LLP publication should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion of any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation.