Navigating parenting time schedules can be as easy or as difficult as parents make it. When both parties are able to cooperate in ensuring that the child’s needs are met while each of their changing work and life schedules are accommodated, the task might be effortless. This might not always be possible, however, and divorced parents may need some guidance when it comes to navigating parenting time schedules. This blog discusses Indiana parenting time schedules and how divorced parents can more easily navigate them.
The first rule concerning parenting time schedules is that they are flexible (Ind. Par. Time. Guid. I(C)). While it is important for a child to be able to rely on a parent to spend consistent time with them, situations do arise making a parent unable to exercise scheduled parenting time. Mandatory work meetings, overtime or a death or illness in the family, can be unpredictable and impossible to schedule around. When a parent must miss parenting time, both parents should explain to the child why the schedule is being changed and attempt to reach an agreement as to when make-up parenting time can take place (Ind. Par. Time. Guid. II(C)(2)). Make-up time should be scheduled as soon as possible, and if an agreement cannot be reached, the parent who lost the parenting time should choose when to make it up, keeping in mind previously scheduled activities and holidays (Ind. Par. Time. Guid. II(C)(2)).
Parents who have a good relationship with one another may be able to simply work out instances of missed parenting time between them without issue. However, if there is a potential for missed parenting time or disagreements over make-up time to turn into a court battle for custody or parenting time modification, all communications regarding missed and make up time should be in writing, via text or email. When texting or emailing your child’s other parent, it may be wise to remember that the text or email may be read aloud in court one day. Therefore, you should always be cooperative and respectful to your child’s other parent, whether speaking to them in person or texting or emailing in writing (Ind. Par. Time. Guid. II(B) Cmt.).
The second rule for navigating parenting time schedules in Indiana is to remember that they are unique and should be crafted and interpreted based on each child’s specific needs (Ind. Par. Time. Guild. Pmbl.). It might just be that a parent spends their scheduled parenting time at the child’s track meet or basketball game and providing transportation to and from the meet or game, instead of participating in whatever activity they had planned. Parenting time may not always mean that the child is in your home or even actually speaking to you. Attending a child’s activities is a part of being a parent, and parents should keep that in mind when determining whether to ask for make-up parenting time.
Communicating with your child while they are with their other parent may also pose some problems when navigating parenting time schedules and attempting to follow the guidelines. The guidelines provide that a parent should have reasonable telephone, email, video chat, or text communication with the child while he or she is in custody of the other parent (Ind. Par. Time. Guid. I(A)). However, as children get older and begin to assert their independence, maintaining contact with them may become more difficult through no fault of their other parent. Talking to the child during your parenting time can help you determine the cause of the difficulty and work out a solution directly with your child.
The third rule for navigating parenting time schedules is to be reasonable about concerns regarding the people your child’s other parent lets into your child’s life. When a parent leaves a child with grandparents, aunts, or uncles, because they are unable to directly care for the child during their parenting time, not only are your child’s relationship with relatives being nurtured, which are in the child’s best interests, but the parenting time guidelines are being followed (Ind. Par. Time. Guid. II(C)). Of major concern to many parents is live in partners or new stepparents who play a significant role in the child’s life. A parent is entitled to, and very likely will, find a new partner who will eventually move in. It is important that both parents work together to ensure that the child’s best interests are being met by the new living arrangement, and that those who may be a positive influence in the child’s life do not become a source of unwarranted contention. (Custody of McGuire (1985), Ind. App., 487 N.E.2d 457) citing (Marriage of Pea v. Pea, 498 N.E.2d 110, 113 (Ind. Ct. App. 1986)).
Finally, it is important to remember that parenting time schedules are created to ensure that the child’s life is as minimally affected as possible by his or her parents separation, and that the child continues to have two parents who work together to do what is in their best interests. Consistency with the flexibility to fit into life as seamlessly as possible, should be both parents goal when creating and navigating parenting time schedules in Indiana.
This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. It is for general educational purposes. The blog is not intended to be relied upon for any legal matter or issue. The blog is not legal advice. This is an advertisement.