As discussed in a previous blog post, major changes to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines (ITPG) went into effect on January 1, 2022. We previously discussed several of these changes, but some of the additional issues that the amended IPTG address include:
- Parenting time during public health emergencies
- Clarification on make-up parenting time
- Addition of a section on shared parenting and removal of a section on parallel parenting
How Does a Public Health Emergency Affect Parenting Time Orders?
The COVID-19 pandemic created various problems for families with children, and especially those with parenting time orders. Parents wondered whether to send their children for parenting time according to the regular schedule, how to best keep their children from infection, and how to work and provide childcare when schools were closed. These unanticipated issues led to many conflicts between parents about adjusting parenting time orders to meet these needs.
Generally, the 2022 ITPG reinforce that court orders on custody, parenting time, and child support remain in full force and effect during a pandemic or any public health emergency. The ITPG also give some specific guidance for parents in this situation, such as:
- Parents will continue to follow the school calendar for parenting time purposes, even if the school is closed due to a public health emergency.
- Transportation shall follow the existing order, unless an Executive Order restricts such transportation.
- Parents may temporarily modify their custody or parenting time agreements in writing, although those agreements must be filed with and approved by the court to be enforceable.
What Do the 2022 ITPG Say About Make-Up Parenting Time?
During the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing public health emergency, closed schools, quarantines, and illness also led to missed visitations and conflicts over making up that time. These disputes also led to a large backlog of contempt and modification requests related to parenting time filed in court. In response, the Indiana Supreme Court clarified the following issues concerning missed parenting time:
- Parenting time that a parent misses due to circumstances beyond their control can be rescheduled. These circumstances might include mandatory work schedule changes, illness, or military obligations. However, poor planning and vacations are not circumstances beyond a parent’s control.
- Make-up parenting time should occur as quickly as possible, but it should not:
- Occur in blocks greater than three days at a time
- Be exercised during holidays or special days
- Be used to interfere with previously scheduled events
These clarifications to the ITPG are designed to help parents better navigate missed parenting time situations and understand when and how to make up parenting time, if needed.
What is Shared Parenting and How Does It Work?
The 2022 ITPG eliminates the parallel parenting plan model, which was designed for parents who have a history of poor cooperation and communication, in favor of a shared parenting plan model. Shared parenting plans are for parents who can work together to effective coparent their children. These plans generally involve deviations from the ITPG, in that the traditionally “noncustodial” parent has more parenting time than stated under the ITPG. This section lists various factors that help the court determine whether parents have the capacity to engage in a shared parenting plan. Some of these factors include:
- The amount of joint work necessary to rear the child, with emphasis on the child’s age, temperament, and developmental needs
- The ability of the child to benefit from shared parenting
- Whether the parents are motivated by shared interests, rules, and agreements, or personal interests and a sense of fairness
- Whether both parents show interest in raising the child
- Whether both parents have a generally peaceful relationship with the child
- How the parents traditionally have managed disagreements and conflict
The ITPG do not provide a model shared parenting plan, instead leaving those details for the parties to work out themselves. The goal is for parents to create a shared parenting plan that meets their family’s unique needs.
Call Arnold Law Office to Talk with Us About Your Case
The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines are often a critical part of family law cases involving children. Therefore, it is important that you understand the changes to these Guidelines and how they might affect your situation. We can answer your questions and explain how these changes might impact your family. Contact Arnold Law Office at 765-962-3344 or 866-958-5995 and schedule an appointment with us today.