Parenting Time and Long Distance Visitation Guidelines

Parenting Time and Long Distance Visitation Guidelines

Indiana Visitation Rights and Long-distance Visitation Guidelines Lawyer

PREAMBLE

The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines 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.  It is assumed that both parents nurture their child in important ways, significant to the development and well being of the child.  The Guidelines also acknowledge that scheduling parenting time is more difficult when separate households are involved and requires persistent effort and communication between parents to promote the best interest of the children involved.  The purpose of these guidelines is to provide a model which may be adjusted depending upon the unique needs and circumstances of each family.  These guidelines are based upon the developmental stages of children.  The members of the Domestic Relations Committee of the Judicial Conference of Indiana developed the guidelines after reviewing the current and relevant literature concerning visitation, the visitation guidelines of other geographic areas, and the input of child development experts and family law practitioners.  Committee members also relied upon data from surveys of judges, attorneys, and mental health professionals who work with children, reviews of court files, and a public hearing.

SCOPE OF APPLICATION

1. Generally. These Guidelines are applicable to all child custody situations, including paternity cases and cases involving joint legal custody where one person has primary physical custody.  However, they are not applicable to situations involving family violence, substance abuse, risk of flight with a child, or any other circumstances the court reasonably believes endanger the child’s physical health or safety, or significantly impair the child’s emotional development.

2.   Presumption.  There is a presumption that the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines are applicable in all cases covered by these guidelines.   Any deviation from these Guidelines by either the parties or the court must be accompanied by a written explanation indicating why the deviation is necessary or appropriate in the case.

A CHILD’S BASIC NEEDS

To insure more responsible parenting and to promote the healthy adjustment and growth of a child each parent should recognize and address a child’s basic needs:

1.  To know that the parents’ decision to live apart is not the child’s fault.

2.  To develop and maintain an independent relationship with each parent and to have the continuing care and guidance from each parent.

3.  To be free from having to side with either parent and to be free from conflict between the parents.

4.  To have a relaxed, secure relationship with each parent without being placed in a position to manipulate one parent against the other.

5. To enjoy regular and consistent time with each parent.

6.  To be financially supported by each parent, regardless of how much time each parent spends with the child.

7.  To be physically safe and adequately supervised when in the care of each parent and to have a stable, consistent and responsible child care arrangement when not supervised by a parent.

8. To develop and maintain meaningful relationships with other significant adults (grandparents, stepparents and other relatives) as long as these relationships do not interfere with or replace the child’s primary relationship with the parents.

GENERAL RULES APPLICABLE TO PARENTING TIME

A. COMMUNICATIONS

1.  Between Parents.   Parents shall at all times keep each other advised of their home and work addresses and telephone numbers.  Notice of any change in this information shall be given to the other parent in writing.  All communications concerning a child shall be conducted between the parents.  Any communication shall occur at reasonable times and places unless circumstances require otherwise.  A child shall not be used to exchange documents or financial information between parents.

2.  With A Child Generally.  A child and a parent shall be entitled to private communications without interference from the other parent.  A child shall never be used by one parent to spy or report on the other.  Each parent shall encourage the child to respect and love the other parent.  Parents shall at all times avoid speaking negatively about each other in or near the presence of the child, and they shall firmly discourage such conduct by relatives or friends.

3.  With A Child By Telephone.  Both parents shall have reasonable phone access to their child at all times.  Telephone communication with the child by either parent to the residence where the child is located shall be conducted at reasonable hours, shall be of reasonable duration, and at reasonable intervals, without interference from the other parent.

If a parent uses an answering machine, voice mail or a pager, messages left for a child shall be promptly communicated to the child and the call returned.

4.  With A Child By Mail.  A parent and a child shall have a right to communicate privately by e-mail and faxes, and by cards, letters, and packages, without interference by the other parent.

5.  Emergency Notification.  For emergency notification purposes, whenever a child travels out of the area with either parent, one of the following shall be provided to the other parent: An itinerary of travel dates, destinations, and places where the child or the traveling parent can be reached, or the name and telephone number of an available third person who knows where the child or parent may be located.

B.  IMPLEMENTING PARENTING TIME

1.  Transportation Responsibilities.  Unless otherwise agreed between the parents, the non-custodial parent shall provide transportation for the child at the start of the scheduled parenting time and the custodial parent shall provide transportation for the child at the end of the scheduled parenting time.

2.  Punctuality.  Each parent shall have the child ready for exchange at the beginning and at the end of the scheduled parenting time and shall be on time in picking up and returning the child. The parents shall communicate as early as possible regarding any situation that would interfere with the timely exchange of the child.

3.  Clothing.   The custodial parent shall send an appropriate and adequate supply of clean clothing with the child and the non-custodial parent shall return such clothing in a clean condition.   Each parent shall advise the other, as far in advance as possible, of any special activities so that the appropriate clothing may be available to the child.

4.  Privacy of Residence.  A parent may not enter the residence of the other, except by express invitation, regardless of whether a parent retains a property interest in the residence of the other.  Accordingly, the child shall be picked up at the front entrance of the appropriate residence unless the parents agree otherwise.  The person delivering the child shall not leave until the child is safely inside.

C.  CHANGES IN SCHEDULED PARENTING TIME

Parents should recognize there will be occasions when modification of the existing parenting schedule will be necessary.   Parents should exercise reasonable judgment in their dealings with each other and with their child.  Parents should be flexible in scheduling parenting time and should consider the benefits to the child of frequent, meaningful and regular contact with each parent and the schedules of the child and each parent.

1.  Scheduled Parenting Time To Occur As Planned.  Parenting time is both a right and a responsibility, and scheduled parenting time shall occur as planned.  If a parent is unable to provide personal care for the child during scheduled parenting time, then that parent shall provide alternate child care or pay the reasonable costs of child care caused by the failure to exercise the scheduled parenting time.

2.  Adjustments to Schedule / “Make Up” Time.  Whenever there is a need to adjust the established parenting schedules because of events outside the normal family routine, the parent who becomes aware of the circumstance shall notify the other parent as far in advance as possible.  Both parents shall then attempt to reach a mutually acceptable adjustment to the parenting schedule.

If an adjustment results in one parent losing scheduled parenting time with the child, “make-up” time should be exercised as soon as possible.    If the parents cannot agree on “make-up” time, the parent who lost the time shall select the “make-up” time within one month of the missed time.

3.  Opportunity for Additional Parenting Time.  When it becomes necessary that a child be cared for by a person other than a parent or a family member, the parent needing the child care shall first offer the other parent the opportunity for additional parenting time.   The other parent is under no obligation to provide the child care.  If the other parent elects to provide this care, it shall be done at no cost.

1.  School Records.  Each parent shall promptly provide the other with copies of a child’s grade reports and notices from school as they are received.  A parent shall not interfere with the right of the other parent to communicate directly with school personnel concerning a child.

2.  School Activities.  Each parent shall promptly notify the other parent of all school activities.  A parent shall not interfere with the right of the other parent to communicate directly with school personnel concerning a child’s school activities.  The parent exercising parenting time shall be responsible to transport the child to school related activities.

3.  Other Activities.  Each parent shall promptly notify the other parent of all organized events in a child’s life which permit parental and family participation.    A parent shall not interfere with the opportunity of the other parent to volunteer for or participate in a child’s activities.

4. Health Information.  If a child is undergoing evaluation or treatment, the custodial parent shall communicate that fact to the non-custodial parent.

Each parent shall immediately notify the other of any medical emergencies or illness of the child that requires medical attention.

If a child is taking prescription or nonprescription medication, the custodial parent shall provide the noncustodial parent with a sufficient amount of medication with instructions whenever the noncustodial parent is exercising parenting time.

The custodial parent shall give written authorization to the child’s health care providers, permitting an ongoing release of all information regarding the child to the non-custodial parent including the right of the provider to discuss the child’s situation with the non-custodial parent.

4.  Insurance.  A parent who has insurance coverage on the child shall supply the other parent with current insurance cards, an explanation of benefits, and a list of insurer-approved or HMO-qualified health care providers in the area where each parent lives.     If the insurance company requires specific forms, the insured parent shall provide those forms to the other parent.

E.  RESOLUTION OF PROBLEMS

1.  Disagreements Generally.  When a disagreement occurs regarding parenting time and the requirements of these Guidelines, both parents shall make every effort to discuss options, including mediation, in an attempt to resolve the dispute before going to court.

2.  Mediation.    If court action is initiated, the parents shall enter into mediation unless otherwise ordered by the court.

3.  Child Hesitation.  If a child is reluctant to participate in parenting time, each parent shall be responsible to ensure the child complies with the scheduled parenting time.  In no event shall a child be allowed to make the decision on whether scheduled parenting time takes place.

4.  Relocation.    When either parent considers a change of residence, reasonable advance notice of the intent to move shall be provided to the other parent so they can discuss necessary changes in the parenting schedule as well as the allocation of transportation costs in exercising parenting time which may result from the move.

5.  Withholding Support or Parenting Time.  Neither parenting time nor child support shall be withheld because of either parent’s failure to comply with a court order.  Only the court may enter sanctions for noncompliance.  A child has the right both to support and parenting time, neither of which is dependent upon the other.  If there is a violation of either requirement, the remedy is to apply to the court for appropriate sanctions.

6.  Enforcement of Parenting Time

A.  Contempt Sanctions.    Court orders regarding parenting time must be followed by both parents.  Unjustified violations of any of the provisions contained in the order may subject the offender to contempt sanctions.   These sanctions may include fine, imprisonment, and/or community service.

B.  Injunctive Relief.   Under Indiana law, a noncustodial parent who regularly pays support and is barred from parenting time by the custodial parent may file an application for an injunction to enforce parenting time under Ind. Code § 31-17-4-4.

C.  Criminal Penalties.  Interference with custody or visitation rights may be a crime.  Ind. Code § 35-42-3-4.

D.  Attorney Fees.   In any court action to enforce an order granting or denying parenting time, a court may award reasonable attorney fees and expenses of  litigation.  A court may consider whether the parent seeking attorney fees substantially prevailed and whether the parent violating the order did so knowingly or intentionally.  A court can also award attorney fees and expenses against a parent who pursues a frivolous or vexatious court action.

PARENTING TIME WHEN DISTANCE IS A MAJOR FACTOR

Where there is a significant geographical distance between the parents, scheduling parenting time is fact sensitive and requires consideration of many factors which include: employment schedules, the costs and time of travel, the financial situation of each parent, the frequency of the parenting time and others.

1.  General Rules Applicable.  The general rules regarding parenting time as set forth in Section 1 of these guidelines shall apply.

2.  Parenting Time Schedule.  The parents shall make every effort to establish a reasonable parenting time schedule.

3.  Priority of Summer Visitation.  Summer parenting time with the non-custodial parent shall take precedence over summer activities (such as Little League) when parenting time cannot be reasonably scheduled around such events.  Under such circumstances, the non-custodial parent shall attempt to enroll the child in a similar activity in his or her community.

4. Extended Parenting Time Notice.    The noncustodial parent shall give notice to the custodial parent of the selection by April 1 of each year.  If such notice is not given, the custodial parent shall make the selection.

5.  Special Notice of Availability.  When the non-custodial parent is in the area where the child resides, or when the child is in the area where the non-custodial parent resides, liberal parenting time shall be allowed. The parents shall provide notice to each other, as far in advance as possible, of such parenting opportunities.

A child whose parents live apart has special needs related to the parent-child relationship. A child’s needs and ability to cope with the parent’s situation change as the child matures.  Parents should consider these needs as they negotiate parenting time.  They should be flexible and create a parenting time agreement which addresses the unique needs of the child and their circumstances. The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines are designed to assist parents and courts in the development of plans and represent the minimum time a parent should have to maintain frequent, meaningful, and continuing contact with a child.

Don’t let your rights as a father get trampled. If you fear you may lose your kids or have your parenting time whittled down to zero, contact us today. Together, we will fight for your right to remain a vital part of your children’s lives. Our standard office hours are 9 am – 5 pm; flexible appointment times, including evenings and weekends, are available upon request. Reasonable rates. Visa, MasterCard, and Discover accepted.

Indiana Visitation Rights Attorney
New Albany Custody Modification Lawyer

Indiana visitation rights attorney providing visitation rights, custody modification, move aways, and moving out of state custody law legal services to clients throughout Indiana.

Office Hours
9 A.M. - 5 P.M.