Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines receive a BIG make-over in 2022

Effective January 1, 2022, the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines (“IPTG”) will receive its biggest make-over in years.  While the new guidelines do not necessarily impact prior custody or parenting time plans, the parties to existing orders can agree to adopt these new guidelines for ease, convenience and uniformity.  Regardless, as with previous versions of the IPTG, a modification of parenting time cannot be based solely on the implantation of the new guidelines.  Below, we’re giving an explanation of the biggest changes in the IPTG since 2013:

ON-LINE SHARED PARENTING CALENDAR

Prior versions of the IPTG advised that a shared parenting calendar would help reduce conflict, anticipate plans for holidays and travel plans when distance is a major factor.  With massive changes to technology and adaption to the national health crisis, the Courts have developed an application, similar to the Child Support Calculator that has been previously available, to help parents develop an on-line parenting calendar based upon the IPTG for children 3 years of age and over.  The calendar allows for customization, including parents and child’s birthdays, school breaks and other special holidays.   https://public.courts.in.gov/PTC/#/parents

SECTION 1: General Guidelines applicable to all parenting time

COMMUNICATIONS:

Adds communications with the child via text and e-mail.  Exchanges at police stations are discouraged and instead other public places are encouraged, such as a restaurant, gas station, etc.

PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY

Changes include the addition of a new section advising how to approach custody and parenting time during a public health emergency, such as the COVID-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.

The commentary further notes that if a parent makes a 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, that it is not considered a voluntary relinquishment of parenting time and that a parent should be able to exercise “make-up” time in the future.

RELOCATION

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 in accordance with the State Statute on relocation.   Exceptions: The 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 result in an increase of more than 20 miles between the relocating and nonrelocating parents’ homes and allow the child to remain enrolled in the child’s current school.

SECTION 2:  Specific Parenting Time provisions

PARENTING TIME FOR NON-CUSTODIAL PARENT

The commentary to the introduction in this section includes a framework for parents contemplating parenting plans that exceed the minimum parenting time that exist in the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines.  The framework suggests that parents and legal professionals look at various factors that will influence a parenting plan.  The commentary specifically states that no one factor is more important than the others and no one factor is decisive in determining a parenting plan.

  1. Factors Related to the Child:
    • The age, temperament, and maturity level of the child
    • The child’s current routine
    • The child’s response to separations and transitions
    • Any particular physical, emotional, educational, or other needs resulting from the developmental stage
    • or characteristics of the child
  2. Factors Related to the Parent:
    • 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 over time
  1. 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
  2. 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 parents’ 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
  1. Environmental Factors:
    • 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

REGULAR CARE RESPONSIBILITIES

It can sometimes be difficult to determine whether a non-custodial parent has had “regular care responsibilities” for a child under 3 years of age.  In an attempt to give some guidance on the subject, the commentary now provides for the following factors:

Factors in Determining the Exercise of “regular care responsibilities”

  • The length of time the parents resided together with the child(ren)
  • Overnights previously exercised by the parents prior to court involvement (ability to incorporate the status quo for the parents and child(ren))
  • Medical conditions, developmental issues, and/or neurological disorders relating to the child(ren), and the history and experience of the parent in providing the care necessary for the child(ren)
  • The parents’ provision of appropriate housing and sleeping arrangements for the child(ren)
  • The frequency and involvement of the parent in the daily activities of the child(ren) such as feeding, cleaning, changing clothes and/or diapers, and bedtime routine, etc.
  • Other factors affecting the regular care responsibilities of the child(ren)

SECTION IV:  Parallel Parenting Plan is out and Shared Parenting Plan is in!

In 2013 the IPTG included a provision that allowed for parallel parenting time for high conflict cases.  The parallel parenting time method was exclusionary, allowing the parent who had the child to make day to day decisions about the child without the need to consult with the other parent.  These parallel parenting time plans were intended to be for six (6) months with the idea that less contact between the hostile parties would lead to less conflict.

Now, beginning in 2022, the parallel parenting time plan is not an option.  Instead, parents and legal professional are encouraged to look at the ability to have a “Shared Parenting Plan” wherein both parents are actively involved in the child’s day to day rearing.  The ultimate goal of Shared Parenting is to promote the healthiest bond possible between the

child and both parents.

Several jurisdictions have already adopted Shared Parenting Legislation wherein Joint Legal and Physical Custody are to be at least considered and sometimes presumed including:  Arizona (2012), Kentucky (2017), Missouri (2016), Oregon (2019), Virginia (2018), and Wisconsin (2000).

 

Should you or a loved one face a possible parental separation, it is essential that you hire an experienced Family Law Attorney. The attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC can absolutely help you through this often-cumbersome situation. Give us a call 24/7/365 at 317.526.4630 or email us at info@banksbrower.com.