The Indiana Supreme Court has approved changes to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. These new changes took effect on March 1, 2013. However, parents should not automatically start following the new Guidelines, unless their parenting time order specifically references that they will follow the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines and any future amendments. Otherwise, parents should follow previous existing parenting time guidelines that that were in effect on the date their parenting time order was issued. It should also be noted that changes to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines does not alone constitute good cause for modification of an existing parenting time visitation order; however, a parent may refer to the new Guidelines in making changes to a parenting time order after their effective date. The Commentary to the new Guidelines suggests that parents who agree to follow the current changes to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines should file their written agreement with the Court for approval.
There are significant changes to the Guidelines. Here is a non-exhaustive list of some of the significant changes:
- The use of calendars and parenting plans is strongly encouraged. The new Guidelines even suggest useful websites to develop calendars for parenting time plans.
- A clear statement that the Guidelines are the minimum amount of time and not a default:
- A strong statement that children are not to make parenting time decisions.
- A list of the unacceptable reasons to deny parenting time.
- Clarifying the hierarchy between Extended (Summer) and Holiday Parenting Time.
- Requires all notices of Extended (Summer) Parenting Time to be given in writing and verbally.
- Suggests access to “technologically advanced communications systems” such as video chat and Skype.
- Sometimes, due to holiday parenting time, a parent may have 3 weekends in a row.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. and President’s Day are added to the Holiday Schedule, if observed in the school district.
- Fall Break is added to the Holiday Schedule, if observed in the school district.
- New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day have been combined in the Christmas Vacation Schedule.
- Parallel Parenting is introduced. There is a model order for parallel parenting included in the new Guidelines.
- “High Conflict” is defined. Parallel parenting and parenting coordination are offered as resources to assist where “high conflict” persists.