PARENTING TIME IN INDIANA DIVORCE AND PATERNITY CASES

In divorce or paternity lawsuits, the issue of parenting time is often the most emotionally charged and contested part of the case.

Indiana has attempted to reduce the conflict often involved with parenting time by adoption of the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. The use of the phrase "parenting time" rather than the old term of "visitation" is very intentional. The guidelines explain:

"Use of Term 'Parenting Time.' Throughout these Guidelines the words 'parenting time' have been used instead of the word 'visitation' so as to emphasize the importance of the time a parent spends with a child. The concept that a non-custodial parent 'visits' with a child does not convey the reality of the continuing parent-child relationship."

The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines states they "are based on the premise that it is usually in a child's best interest to have frequent, meaningful and continuing contact with each parent."

The parenting time schedules detailed in the guidelines are considered to be the minimum parenting time a parent should be able to exercise with their child. The guidelines explain:

"Minimum Time Concept. The concept that these Guidelines represent the minimum time a non-custodial parent should spend with a child when the parties are unable to reach their own agreement.  These guidelines should not be interpreted as a limitation of time imposed by the court. They are not meant to foreclose the parents from agreeing to, or the court from granting, such additional or reduced parenting time as may be in the best interest of the child in any given case. In addressing all parenting time issues, both parents should exercise sensibility, flexibility and reasonableness."

The guidelines give detailed parenting time schedules that vary depending upon the age of the children and other factors such as distance between the parent's homes. The guidelines address pick up and drop off, telephone contact, holiday parenting time and most every other circumstance that may arise.

The current version of the guidelines is 24 pages long. The Domestic Relations Committee of the Indiana Supreme Court has done a very good job of attempting to address most common situations that affect parenting time. I strongly urge anyone involved in a divorce or paternity case to carefully read and understand the guidelines. The guidelines are the rule book that your future interactions with your children and the mother or father of your children will be played by.

Many of the most common questions I am asked about parenting time are answered in the guidelines. I am always happy to answer specific questions and help my clients understand their rights and obligations under the guidelines.


The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines can be found HERE.

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