Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2012 Amendments to Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines - Extended Parenting Time

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 on the changes. Today I continue with my eighth posting - Extended Parenting Time

I was disappointed to see that there was essentially no change for the Parenting Time from after infancy up to five years of age. The following applies to five years of age and up.

Here is the proposed -- revised in bold type -- Extended Parenting Time

"One-half of the Summer Vacation. The summer vacation begins the day after school lets out for the summer, and ends the day before school resumes for the new school year. The time may be either consecutive or split into two (2) segments. The noncustodial parent shall give notice to the custodial parent of the selection by April 1 of each year. If such notice is not given, the custodial parent shall make the selection and notify the other parent. All notices shall be given in writing and verbally. A timely selection may not be rejected by the other parent. Notice of an employer's restrictions on the vacation time of either parent shall be delivered to the other parent as soon as that information is available. In scheduling parenting time the employer imposed restrictions on either parent's time shall be considered by the parents in arranging their time with their child.

If a child attends year-round school, the periodic breaks should be divided equally between the parents. If a child attends summer school, the parent exercising parenting time shall be responsible for the child's transportation to and attendance at school."

There is little change here. The major change in this section is the notice requirement. The Committee discussed whether to require notice of the Summer Vacation selection to be in writing or verbally.

I have always made it a practice of filing with the court "Notice of Summer Vacation Parenting Time Selection" before 01 April of the year. This resolves any potential dispute as to whether notice was timely given. I suggest that notice be given in both writing and verbally. As stated here in writing, with the court, clearly establishes that notice was given. Additionally though I wanted notice to be given verbally also. This could be the only written correspondence between parents within the year. As email or physical addresses get changed delivery to an unused address would be futile. A verbal confirmation could alert the other parent that the sending parent is using an old address. Additionally, I also want parents to talk. Even if it just the one sentence it could be a start to facilitating greater communication.

I have received numerous complaints that the minimum weekly parenting time of the NCP was not increased. I have even received a comment suggesting that the minimum time for each parent should be set at 50%. Quite simply that becomes a mandate and defeats the purpose of a 'guideline' or the minimum concept. I am not as disappointed in the lack of an increase for the child to have time with the NCP.

The underlying theme that the DRC was operating under while amending these guidelines was that they are not to be used as a standard. The Committee has sought to emphasize that parents, practitioners and judges need to tailor parenting time plans around the needs of the child and commensurate with the scheduling needs of both parents. Parents need to be partners in this endeavor not just two people who follow a predetermined schedule without regard for the unique scheduling needs or convenience of either which includes employment schedules which was specifically added to the above sections.

Here is the remaining proposed portion -- revised in bold type -- Extended Parenting Time

"During any extended summer period of more than two (2) consecutive weeks with the noncustodial parent, the custodial parent shall have the benefit of the regular parenting time schedule set forth above, which includes alternating weekends and mid-week parenting time, unless impracticable because of distance created by out of town vacations.

Similarly, during the summer period when the children are with the custodial parent for more than two (2) consecutive weeks, the non-custodial parent's regular parenting time continues, which includes alternating weekends and mid-week parenting time, unless impracticable because of distance created by out of town vacations. The selection of a parent’s summer parenting time shall not deprive the other parent of the Holiday Parenting Time Schedule below. See Section II. G."

Nothing here establishes a change in parenting time. The added language simply clarifies what is already in the rule.

The next section will be an overview of the much anticipated revisions to the section -- Holiday Parenting Time.

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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.

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