The Indiana Parenting Time Rules and Guidelines and its commentary are helpful to parents (and attorneys) in determining, with more or less precision, what is required in any given parenting time situation. However, the Guidelines and commentary are relatively ambiguous when it comes to notifying the other parent if you plan to travel out of the area with the children. What does “out of the area” mean? This blog post explores the notification requirements parents should consider when “traveling out of the area” under Indiana Parenting Time Guideline Section I(A)(6).1
As a threshold matter, many parents believe this rule only applies if they plan to travel out of the state—this triggers the notification requirements. This is not the case. Clearly, travel out of state does invoke the notification requirements, but intrastate travel does as well. But when does this rule apply? That is a rule that will vary from family to family and how litigious each parent is and how well he or she knows the nuances of the Guidelines.
While there is no precise answer to the question of when “emergency notification” is required for travel out of the area, a good rule of thumb would be to make notification any time you travel somewhere with the children out of the routine of your parenting time with them. This will vary from family to family. However, this offers you the most protection from a contempt or modification filing for not providing “emergency notification” for travel out of the area. This could indeed become burdensome, but it depends on the other parent. No one knows him or her better than you. How much of a stickler are they going to be about receiving notification?
That said, it is important to note that the controlling Guideline has very specific notification requirements. Whenever the children will travel out of the area with the parent exercising parenting time, that parent must provide the following to the other parent:
- An itinerary of the travel dates.
- The destinations traveled to.
- The places where the child or the traveling parent can be reached.
- The name and telephone number of an available third person who knows where the child or parent may be located.
This, again, may be a significant burden, but with a litigious parent over-notification is the best protection from a contempt or modification filing.
This noted, it is important to notify the parent in a way that makes a clear record that can be used in court, such as an email. However, you also need to know what is required in your divorce decree and other controlling orders. Many orders specify a singular specific means of communication, such as through Our Family Wizard. You must notify through any ordered means. If there is no controlling mechanism to notify the other parent of travel out of the area, email is probably the best way. Do not use the children to notify the other parent of travel out of the area, such as by delivering a note.
Ultimately, the notification to travel out of the area is a balancing act based on what you know of the other parent. Over-notification is probably your best hedge of protection against a potential contempt or modification filing. This blog post was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. It is for general educational purposes. It is not intended as legal advice or to be relied on for any legal matter or issue. It is not legal advice. It is an advertisement.
- It would be wise for all parents to read the Guidelines and commentary in full. That said, the notification requirements for travel out of the area is contained in the section titled “emergency notification” which would seem to indicate lengthy travel or travel out of state give the near instant communication every parent (and many children have) with modern cell phones which allows face-to-face communication in real time.