The Indiana Supreme Court approved amendments to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines effective January 1, 2022. Existing parenting time orders are enforced according to the parenting time guidelines that were in effect on the date the most recent parenting time order was issued, so only parenting time and custody orders issued after December 31, 2021, are governed by these amendments. It is still a good idea for parents to be familiar with the amendments as they provide helpful guidance on how to manage issues surrounding custody and parenting time.
The Guidelines currently provide that a parent may not restrict or interfere with the other parent’s access to the child while in their care. A common issue that arises is when a child gets in trouble and their electronic devices are taken away or restricted. This normally restricts the other parent’s access to the child, whether intentional or not. The Guidelines now address that a parent may restrict access from a telephone, tablet, or other device the child uses to communicate with the other parent as a punishment, but such punishment may not prevent communications with the other parent.
The Guidelines further clarify that no person shall monitor or record communications between the child and a parent. The Court may require supervision of a parent’s communication, and that Court Order supersedes the requirements of the guidelines. Absent a court order, a child should have private communications with their other parent.
The amended Guidelines provide that the use of a law enforcement facility for exchanges is an extreme measure which should only be considered in cases where there is an active Order for Protection or there is a history of repeated acts of physical violence or intimidation between the parents. Absent those circumstances, the Guidelines encourage parents to use other public locations such as gas stations, restaurants, or grocery stores for parenting time exchanges.
The most substantive change to the parenting time schedule is a modification to parenting time for the child’s birthday. The Guidelines now provide that the parent who does not exercise parenting time with the child for their birthday shall have parenting time the day before the child’s birthday so that each parent is provided an opportunity to celebrate the child’s birthday with the child. Previously, the Guidelines only provided parenting time for one parent on the child’s birthday. Depending on the parenting time schedule, that may have prevented one parent from seeing the child near their birthday. The amendment also changes the start and end time of holiday parenting time.
An online calendar was also created to assist parents in creating a year-long parenting time schedule at: https://public.courts.in.gov/PTC/#/.