Friday, July 20, 2012

Will a change in philosophy guide the 2012 Indiana Parenting Time Guideline amendments?

The Domestic Relations Committee [DRC] of the Indiana Judicial Office met in regular session today to continue the process of amending the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines [IPTG]. Under current mandate the DRC is to review the IPTG every ten years. The current revision process began when Marsha Cline Pruett, at the invitation of Judge Karen Love, wrote comments to the DRC in early 2010. This was followed by an announcement that the public was invited to attend a hearing and also submit comments.

The original IPTG were the offshoot of a hearing on child support where more people spoke about parenting time, then called visitation. The first statewide parenting time guidelines were adopted in 1999. Prior to that time some counties such as Lake and Allen has their own guidelines.

The public input phase of the current revised IPTG was completed earlier this year after those proposed revisions were published. Now the exhaustive finalization of the language is the current phase which will be followed by the final step of submission to the Indiana Supreme Court for adoption. I eagerly prognosticate that to be the final step as the revisions have endured through careful consideration and I have confidence that they will be adopted.

Today's meeting focused on whether the committees' preference towards establishing earlier and greater parenting time with the non-custodial parent is supported by established clinical findings.

There was no discussion during the morning session about particular language of the proposed revisions but instead a philosophical discussion occurred about the use of comments by "experts" and the results of studies.

When the process was originated over two years ago a determination was made not to base revisions on the input of an expert because the experts have biases and still contradict each other as does the empirical data. After 30 years of study there is still no unanimity on attachment theory.

The committee did work on language to attempt to convey the intent that children have overnight parenting time with the non-custodial parent [NCP] as early as practical. The language requiring that a NCP demonstrate experience in having provided hands-on care for the child is moved but remains. Although there was discussion about a burden shift for the NCP to attain overnights the decision was made to keep the burden on the custodial parent to demonstrate that the NCP has not provided the required care.

There had been an issue of the draft published for comment did not exactly track the current IPTG. Thus a side-by-side comparison could not be made between the existing and proposed IPTG. This month the draft was revised to track the existing IPTG.

Overall the continuing attitude amongst these leaders of judicial child custody reform is that children do need the active involvement of both parents. One judge in particular articulated her reasons for granting primary physical custody to fathers more frequently now: Mothers are not establishing permanent residences. Fathers are filing paternity cases prior to the birth of the child asking for such things as the mother continue under the care of a doctor or that they get an order establishing their time with the child following birth since the mothers have become antagonistic towards them.

She further elaborated that many of the women who appear in her court are resistant to providing or increasing the opportunities for a child to have parenting time with the father for reasons that are not valid and do not relate to the best interest of the children. Fathers have broken up with these women who feel scorned and don't want him to see the child because "I am mad at him" and are therefore not getting primary custody.

The days when mothers were seen as untouchable in child custody cases and fathers participated as visitors only are rapidly disappearing. While the clinical community has been slow to adopt the findings that children do need both parents those practitioners who are in the trenches have been armed with significant evidence that validates those findings.

If you need assistance with a child custody issue then 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:

SassyRedCurls said...

Do you have an educated guess about when the revisions will be finally adopted?