The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines ("IPTG") were updated for the first time in years on January 1, 2022. While the new rules do not necessarily affect prior custody or parenting time agreements, the parties to existing orders can agree to adopt them for ease, convenience, and consistency. Regardless, as with earlier versions of the IPTG, a change in parenting time cannot be entirely based on the new standards' implementation. The following is an explanation of the most significant developments in the IPTG from 2013:
SECTION 1: GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS APPLICABLE TO ALL PERIODS OF PARENTING
New IPTG adds text and email communication with the youngster. Further, exchanges at police stations are not recommended, whereas exchanges at other public locations, such as a restaurant or a public location, are encouraged.
EMERGENCY IN PUBLIC HEALTH
A new section on how to address custody and parenting time during a public health emergency, such as the COVID-19 epidemic, has been added. Existing court rulings governing custody and parenting time must be followed during a public health emergency, according to the provision, which also advises parties to be flexible and cooperate for the children's best interests and health.
The commentary goes on to say that if a parent chooses to forego parenting time in order to protect the child's health and well-being or to protect the health and well-being of household family members during a public health emergency, it is not considered a voluntary relinquishment of parenting time and that a parent should be able to use "make-up" time in the future.
In compliance with the State Statute on relocation, the number of days in which a parent must give notice of relocation of residence was reduced from 90 to 30 days before the anticipated move date. Exceptions: If a person's relocation will reduce the distance between the relocating and non-relocating person's homes or will not result in an increase of 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 notice is not required to be filed with the court.
SECTION 2: Parenting Time Requirements Specific Parenting Time Requirements
NON-CUSTODIAL PARENTS' PARENTING TIME
This section's commentary to the introduction presents a framework for parents considering parenting plans that go beyond the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines' minimal parenting time requirements. According to the framework, parents and legal professionals should consider a variety of variables that will influence a parenting plan. No single aspect is more significant than the others, and no single factor is decisive in determining a parenting plan, according to the comments.
Child-related factors include:
- The temperament of each parent
- The "fit" of each parent's temperament with the child's temperament
- Each parent's mental health, including mental illness and substance use or abuse
- Each parent's sensitivity to the child's early developmental needs
- Each parent's capacity and willingness to be flexible as the child's needs change from day to day and overtime
Factors Related to the Parent-Child Relationship
- Each parent's warmth and availability to the child
- Each parent's ability to correctly discern and respond sensitively to the child's needs
- Each parent's past experience living with the child and caregiving history
- Each parent's caregiving interest and motivation
- Each parent's history of perpetrating child physical or emotional abuse or neglect
Factors Related to the Co-Parenting Relationship:
- The parents' capacity and willingness to be flexible with each other as the child's needs get expressed in the moment and change over time
- The level and nature of conflict and/or domestic violence, including the history, recentness, intensity, frequency, content, and context (separation specific or broader)
- The parents' ability to compartmentalize any conflicts and protect the child from exposure to parental conflict
- The parent's ability to communicate appropriately and in a timely manner about the child
- The degree to which each parent facilitates contact and communication between the other parent and the child versus "gatekeeping" behavior intended to keep the other parent and the child apart
- The parents' capacity for cooperation about the child's developmental needs
- The proximity of the parental homes
- The parents' work schedules and circumstances
- The presence of extended family members or close friends that participate in caregiving
- The availability of additional child care if needed and economic resources available to pay for it
- The mechanics in place to transfer the child from one household to the other
RESPONSIBILITIES FOR REGULAR CARE
It's not always easy to tell if a non-custodial parent has had "regular care obligations" for a child under the age of three. The following criteria are now included in the commentary in an attempt to provide some guidance on the subject:
Factors to Consider When Assuming "Regular Care Responsibilities"
- The length of time that the parents lived with the child.
- Prior to court participation, the parents have already exercised overnights (ability to maintain the status quo for the parents and child.
- Medical illnesses, developmental challenges, and/or neurological diseases affecting the child, as well as the parent's history and experience providing the appropriate care.
- The child's lodging and sleeping arrangements are provided by the parents.
- The regularity with which the parent participates in the child's everyday activities, such as feeding, cleaning, changing clothes and/or diapers, establishing a nighttime ritual, etc.
- Other elements influencing the child's normal care obligations.
SECTION 4: The Parallel Parenting Plan is no longer allowed and Shared Parenting Plans are encouraged
The IPTG adopted a provision in 2013 that allowed for parallel parenting time in circumstances of significant conflict. The parallel parenting time technique was exclusive, allowing the child's biological parent to make day-to-day decisions regarding the child without consulting the other parent. These parallel parenting time arrangements were designed to last six (6) months, with the goal of reducing conflict by limiting contact between the adversarial parties.
The parallel parenting time plan is no longer a possibility as of 2022. Instead, parents and legal professionals are encouraged to consider the possibility of a "Shared Parenting Plan," in which both parents are actively involved in the day-to-day parenting of the child. The ultimate goal of shared parenting is to foster the strongest possible link between the parents and the child.
Contact experienced Indiana family attorney David Frangos of Frangos Legal LLC if you are in a situation where you or a loved one is facing a potential separation or divorce. Schedule a Free Consultation and case review by emailing us at contact@Frangos-Legal.com, by telephone at 317-245-3707, or by booking online.