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Indiana Supreme Court Amends Parenting Time Guidelines

By James Emerson on January 13, 2022

The Indiana Supreme Court has issued an Order Amending Indiana Parenting Time Schedules. The order was filed with the clerk of the court on October 5, 2021. The new order goes into effect on January 1, 2022.

Previously existing parenting time orders will be enforced according to the guidelines that were in effect when the orders were issued. The recent changes that have been made to the parenting time guidelines do not in themselves constitute cause for amending existing parenting time visitation orders. However, the courts and parties seeking modification to parenting time orders after the January 1, 2022 effective date may refer to the new guidelines.

What Does the New Order Affect?

The new parenting time guidelines will affect several aspects of co-parenting in Indiana, including:

  • Transportation: The new guidelines discourage using a police station as a place to transfer children. Changes have been made to reduce the potential for third-party conflict when children are dropped off or picked up at either home. The guidelines have been changed regarding transportation to and from extracurricular activities. When activities of the child occur during one parent’s time, that parent will have the first opportunity to provide transportation to the activity.
  • Scheduling: Changes include publication of an online calendaring tool and uniformity of pickup and drop-off times on birthdays and holidays. The new guidelines provide clarification on make-up time issues. Make-up time is designed to help maintain a relationship between a parent and child. It may not be used routinely because of a parent’s failure to plan in advance.
  • Exchange of information: Text messaging has become one of the most common ways to communicate. A child’s communication with a parent may not be recorded. A parent may punish a child by restricting access to a device, such as a telephone or tablet, used to communicate with the other parent, but the punishment cannot prevent communication with the other parent.

Factors Affecting Parenting Time Under the New Guidelines

New factors for parenting time plans have been included in the amended parenting time guidelines. These factors are to be considered in determining whether a parenting plan that exceeds the recommended minimum is in the best interests of the child. These factors are grouped in five categories:

  • Factors related to the child: These include the child’s age, maturity level, temperament, current routine, and response to transitions and separations. They also include the unique physical, emotional, or educational needs of the child.
  • Factors related to the parents: Judges will consider the following factors for each parent – temperament, fit with the child’s temperament, mental health, substance use or abuse, sensitivity to the child’s developmental needs, and capacity and willingness for flexibility as the needs of the child change.
  • Factors related to the parent-child relationship: The court will evaluate each parent’s relationship with child in terms of warmth and availability, past experience caregiving and living with the child, ability to discern and respond to the child’s needs, caregiving interest and motivation, and any history of physical or emotional abuse or neglect.
  • Factors related to the co-parenting relationship: These factors include the capacity of the parents to be flexible with each other as the child’s needs are expressed and change, their ability to compartmentalize conflicts and protect the child from exposure to them, and their ability to communicate in an appropriate and timely manner about the child.
  • Environmental factors: Matters such as the proximity of parental homes, the parents’ work schedules, the presence of extended family members that contribute to caregiving, and other environmental factors will be considered for parenting time plans.

At Emerson Divorce and Accident Injury Attorneys, LLC, our Indianapolis family law attorneys have more than three decades of combined experience. Call us at (317) 969-8000 to schedule a free consultation you are facing parenting time issues.

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