Wednesday, February 15, 2012

2012 Amendments to Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines - Scope of Application

After a two year process the proposed revisions to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines [IPTG] have now been posted on the Indiana Judiciary web-page. The Domestic Relations Committee of the Indiana Judicial Center [DRC] -- the body responsible for writing the IPTG -- will be accepting public comment on the proposed revisions until Monday, 26 March 2012 .

For the past two years I have been attending the DRC meetings and presenting proposals or providing feedback as requested. I will be analyzing each of the amended sections individually and providing commentary. Today I continue with my fifth posting by backing up a bit to Scope of Application.

It must initially be understood that the IPTG are guidelines which are given the force of law when adopted by the court. There are situations in which the Guidelines are not applicable and will not be adopted by the court.

Here is the Scope of Application section in the Guidelines as currently written

"These Guidelines are applicable to all child custody situations, including paternity cases and cases involving joint legal custody where one person has primary physical custody. However, they are not applicable to situations involving family violence, substance abuse, risk of flight with a child, or any other circumstances the court reasonably believes endanger the child's physical health or safety, or significantly impair the child's emotional development." [emphasis added]

The proposed revisions in bold type clarify this point more succinctly --

In such cases one or both parents may have legal, psychological, substance abuse or emotional problems that may need to be addressed before these Guidelines can be employed. The type of help that is needed in such cases is beyond the scope of these Guidelines.

A new portion was added specifically related to the issue of high conflict parents. This is the area in which I specialize and was able to present my findings and anecdotes. It is encouraging to see that the DRC has included language particularly explaining that it is not lack of specific parenting skills but the nature of the continuing relationship between the parents that makes high conflict parenting difficult. Hopefully the inclusion of the following language will get some parents to understand that their ongoing battle is damaging to the children.

Here is the proposed addition in bold type --

The volatile relationship between high conflict parents adversely affects the children even though the parents are individually fit and able to nurture the children safely. “High conflict parents” mean parties who demonstrate a pattern of ongoing litigation, chronic anger and distrust, inability to communicate about and cooperate in the care of the child, or other behaviors placing the child’s well-being at risk. In such cases the court should deviate from these parenting time guidelines under Sections I, II, and III, to reduce the adverse effects on the child. The contact between high conflict parents should be minimized or eliminated, at least until the parental conflict is under control. Guideline V. discusses parallel parenting, which is one approach to reducing the conflict. A model parallel parenting plan order is provided in Appendix B.

There was extensive discussion about application of the amendments to the current parenting time orders. The DRC ultimately decided that it would intrude upon the current agreements made by parents that reference the IPTG. It was decided that the best route would be for a party seeking to include these revisions to try to obtain the consent of the other parties and absent that then to get the court to adopt the current guidelines.

Here is the proposed -- revised in bold type -- portion: Amendments

"Amendments to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines do not alone constitute good cause for amendment of an existing parenting time order;
however, a court or parties to a proceeding may refer to these guidelines in making changes to a parenting time order after the effective date of the guidelines."

The following commentary was added to ensure clarity that these amendments do not affect the current parenting time plans or orders.

Existing parenting time orders on the date of adoption of these amendments shall be interpreted according to the parenting time guidelines that were in effect on the date the parenting time order was issued.

The next section will cover specific parenting time provisions

If you need assistance with a child custody matter please visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me.

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More information about child custody rights and procedures may be found on the Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates website.

©2012 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

1 comment:

119US ARMY said...

I am a non custodial parent who is in the military and lives out of state, my daughter is in Indiana. Our visitation order states that we are to follow the guidelines that pertain to parents that live where distance is a factor. So, according to the guidelines I see my daughter 3 times a year (Spring break, 7 weeks a summer and one week during Christmas break). I hate that I have to go 5 months between summer and Christmas to see her and dont think its healthy for her. Last Christmas her mother denied my Christmas visitation (no good reason) so I had to go 9 months without seeing her (contempt was filed but she just got a slap on the wrist). If one visitation is missed I have to go half a year without seeing her since I only get 3 chances a year. If I would have known about the provisions I would have suggested that fall break (4 days during October) be added to the visitation of parents who live at a distance. That way I wouldnt have to go 5 months between summer and Christmas to see her. I wish her mother and I could talk in a civil manner but it has come down to control and the only way I can see my daughter is if the mother is court ordered to let me.