There are times when a custodial parent needs to deny parenting time to the child’s other parent. In certain situations, this may be acceptable, and the time can be made up at a later date. However, most reasons for denying parenting time are unacceptable, as parenting time is considered critical to a child’s health and well-being. This blog explores the denial of parenting time and what excuses are simply unacceptable for doing so.
The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines provide that scheduled parenting time is to occur as planned. “Parenting time is both a right and a responsibility, and scheduled parenting time shall occur as planned. Both parents are jointly responsible for following the parenting time orders…”. The commentary then lists some unacceptable excuses for denying parenting time “Unacceptable excuses for denying parenting time include the following: The child unjustifiably hesitates or refuses to go. The child has a minor illness. The child has to go somewhere. The child is not home. The noncustodial parent is behind in support. The custodial parent does not want the child to go. The weather is bad (unless the weather makes travel unsafe). The child has no clothes to wear. The other parent failed to meet preconditions established by the custodial parent.”
This is not an all-inclusive list of unacceptable excuses but can give parties an idea of when parenting time cannot be denied. Minor illnesses, an event to attend, bad weather, and lack of clean clothing are all issues that arise as a part of parenting. Washing clothing, driving your child to an activity (even in bad weather), and nursing an illness are things parents just do. A non-custodial parent can handle these tasks just as a custodial parent can. Thus, any excuse falling into the category of common parenting issues that the non-custodial parent can manage by simply doing what parents do, are also unacceptable reasons to withhold parenting time.
Other excuses for denying parenting time such as the child is not at home, or the custodial parent does not want the child to go are out right violations of the parenting time order. The Guidelines provide that a parent is to have the child ready to go at the designated pick-up time. If the child is not home, the child is not ready to go. And allowing a custodial parent to pick and choose when parenting time will occur based on whether or not they want the child to go that day, or the non-custodial parent did not meet some pre-condition not contained in the court order, would defeat the entire purpose of the parenting time order. Any other excuse which would violate or defeat the purpose of your parenting time order are likewise not acceptable reasons for a denial of parenting time.
A reason often heard for the denial of parenting time is that the non-custodial parent is behind on child support. In Indiana, parenting time and child support are two separate issues. A party may not be denied parenting time because they are behind on child support payments. If child support payments are behind, a party’s remedy is to petition the court for the appropriate sanctions. It is NOT to withhold parenting time.
Another often heard reason for denying the parenting time is that the child is hesitating and/or does not want to go. The Guidelines discuss child hesitation “If a child is reluctant to participate in parenting time, each parent shall be responsible to ensure the child complies with the scheduled parenting time. In no event shall a child be allowed to make the decision on whether scheduled parenting time takes place.” The commentary to this rule provides that if a child hesitates to go with a parent, both parents should promptly speak to the child about the reluctance and attempt to resolve the situation before seeking the assistance of the court.
Child development experts agree that the parent-child bond is a major factor in the well-being of a child. This bond is formed when the parent is involved in the child’s day-to-day life and performance of care-giving tasks. It is further nurtured as the child grows and the parent is able to form a meaningful relationship with the child. When parenting time is denied, so is the opportunity for the non-custodial parent to form and nurture this bond. The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines are based on this principle of parental involvement being in the best interests of a child “The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines are based on the premise that it is usually in a child's best interest to have frequent, meaningful, continuing contact with each parent. It is assumed that both parents nurture their child in important ways, significant to the development and wellbeing of the child.”
If you are being denied parenting time the attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. can help you protect your rights. 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.