The new Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines (IPTG) are out this year, and they reflect significant changes to the world we live in. The Supreme Court of Indiana addressed some of the most obvious sources of conflict in parenting time and custody cases, as divorced parents tried and sometimes failed to follow custody orders in the midst of a public health and financial crisis.
While these new guidelines do not affect existing orders, parents can review the recommendations with an eye toward making changes that facilitate communication and offer direction on non-custodial parenting time, relocation and a shared parenting model.
How does shared parenting differ from the parallel parenting?
Previous versions of the IPTG emphasized the independence of each parent to make decisions regarding the child without consulting the other parent in high conflict situations. In 2022, this is no longer an option, as the courts strongly encourage the shared parenting model as the default plan for both parents to remain actively involved in decisions regarding their children.
To facilitate this cooperative approach, the new IPTG recommends and addresses:
- The use of an online parenting calendar that parents can customize to suit their unique situation.
- Additional communication with a child using text and email communication.
- The possibility to make up lost parenting time during a public health emergency.
In addition, under the guidelines the parents should share information about their children regarding school records or school-related or extra-curricular activities, and not interfere with one parent’s right to communicate directly with school officials. The parent with insurance coverage for the child must share this information with the other parent, and should also inform the other parent of an illness or emergency involving the child.
Factors to consider for increasing parenting time for non-custodial parents
Although the new IPTG provides a framework for parenting time, each family situation is unique, and any number of factors may determine the appropriate solution that prioritizes what is in the best interests of the child:
- The child’s age and temperament, daily routines, as well as their specific emotional, psychological, or educational needs.
- The temperament of each parent and how they relate to the child, as well as their adaptability and caregiving abilities.
- The potential for a co-parenting relationship that prioritizes the needs of the child and each parent’s flexibility in decision-making, willingness to resolve conflict and ability to communicate respectfully and effectively.
- The work schedules of each parent, their proximity to each other, caregiving options and the presence of other responsible caregivers.
Because the periodic updates to the IPTG can conflict with older versions, it is important for new divorce cases as well as modification requests to follow the most recent recommendations. For Evansville residents, it can be helpful to get more information about the new guidelines and how they apply to your situation when deciding on the best plan forward.