Indiana justices amend state parenting time guidelines

The Indiana Supreme Court has issued a 28-page order detailing changes made to Indiana’s parenting time guidelines, which will take effect New Year’s Day.

Justices unanimously approved a Tuesday order  making numerous changes to the state’s parenting guidelines, which officially go into effect on Jan.1, 2022.

Existing parenting time orders on the date of adoption of these amendments shall be enforced according to the parenting time guidelines that were in effect on the date the most recent parenting time order was issued.

Changes include the addition of a new section advising how to approach custody and parenting time during a public health emergency, such as the OVID-19 pandemic. Existing court orders regarding custody and parenting time shall remain in place during a public health emergency and shall be followed, the section says, advising that parties should be flexible and cooperate for the best interests and health of the children.

In a commentary, the order notes that a parent’s decision to forgo parenting time in order to protect the child’s health and well-being or to insulate the health and well-being of household family members during a public health emergency should not be considered a voluntary relinquishment of parenting time.

Rather, if a parent is acting in a child’s best interest due to dangerous conditions which make the exercise of parenting time unsafe and opts to forgo parenting time, a parent should be able to exercise “make-up” time in the future.

An additional change was made to the number of days in which a parent must make notice of relocation of residence, from 90 days to 30 days before the intended move date.

However, such notice is not required to be filed with the court if a person’s relocation will reduce the distance between the relocating and non-relocating person’s home or will not increase more than 20 miles between the relocating and non-relocating parents’ homes and allow the child to remain enrolled in the child’s current school.

The guidelines also include a new section on shared parenting and strikes a previous section focused on parallel parenting. It includes a new appendix outlining whether shared parenting is a viable option for families with questions to consider, striking the model parallel parenting plan order.

Other amendments include:

  • Updates regarding electronic communication and terms, as well as additional commentary that a parent may restrict access from electronic device used to communicate with the other parent as punishment for a child, but such punishment shall not prevent communications with the other parent.
  • The use of a law enforcement facility for exchanges is an extreme measure to be considered only in cases where protective orders between the parents exist or if a history of repeated acts of physical violence or intimidation between the parents exists.
  • Recurring events which may require an adjustment, such as military drill obligations or annual work obligations, should be communicated as soon as those scheduled events are published.
  • “Make-up” time is not an opportunity to deny the other parent of scheduled holidays or special days, should not interfere with previously scheduled activities, and may not be used routinely due to a parent’s failure to plan in advance, absent a true emergency.
  • If a child is 3 years or older, but not yet enrolled in an academic childcare program or educational facility, then the district school calendar of the district where the child primarily resides shall control for the purpose of determining holiday parenting time.

However, if the parties equally share parenting time, then the district school calendar of the parent paying controlled expenses shall be used to determine holiday parenting time. If a child is 3 years or older and enrolled in an academic childcare program or educational facility, then the program or educational facility’s calendar where the child is enrolled shall control for the purpose of determining holiday parenting time.

Additionally, the amended guidelines offer a link to an online calendar that can help parents create a parenting time schedule. 

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