On January 1, 2022, the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines quietly received several new changes and amendments that will likely affect each blended or coparenting family and could silently overhaul their current parenting time provisions.
Click this link to review the new Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. These are now active and enforceable guidelines, and the changes may drastically affect your parenting schedule. It could also alter the legal landscape if you want to modify your current schedule.
Below are a few highlights from the many changes or amendments:
Shared Parenting Time
The new 2022 Guidelines create a brand new section titled "Shared Parenting" and removed the section on parallel parenting. The Guidelines are embracing the concept of Two Houses, One Home. This might be when the parents share equal time through week-on/week-off, 2/2/3 or 2/2/5/5 schedules, or some parents who have attempted the "California Nesting" approach in which the children stay in the same home every day, while the parents rotate out. The Guidelines provide specific instructions on when Shared Parenting Time is appropriate and state the factors necessary to the Co-Parenting Relationship. Shared parenting time is not for everyone. The Guidelines provide this instruction:
"Shared Parenting requires not just a sharing of time and responsibility for raising the child, but a conscious effort to create two homes that are highly unified when taking care of a child and making decisions for the child."
Equal or Shared Parenting Time will only work when parents are willing to coordinate frequently and communicate effectively about their children. For example, if the child has regularly scheduled appointments or extracurricular activities, then Shared Parenting forces the parents to exchange information and work with teachers, therapists, coaches, etc. to make sure homework, practice schedules, and medical information is not lost during frequent schedule changes.
This new Shared Parenting schedule is only appropriate for parents who can put aside their differences and honestly state, "We might be terrible romantic partners, but we will be great parents together." The new Guidelines also point out that this schedule is most effective if installed when the children are young.
Make-Up Parenting Time
The scheduling of “Make Up” or missed parenting time is often a source of tension between parents, especially when they share equal time with the children. The new 2022 Guidelines give helpful new language for when this problem arises, especially when the missed parenting time is caused by the parent’s own actions. For example, here is part of the new instructions:
“Decisions made by a parent that are voluntary in nature and prevent their regular exercise of parenting time such as vacations or participation in other, voluntary activities, should not be subject to “make-up” parenting time, absent an agreement by both parents to accommodate the adjustment and subsequent ‘make-up‘ time.”
The 2022 Guidelines have an entirely new section on how to exchange parenting time “during a public health emergency.”
If you’re a parent with middle schoolers or older, you will likely have already had the COVID discussion with the other parent. It might seem a teensy bit late to have these guidelines come out now that we are almost 2 years into the current pandemic, but parents continue to dispute parenting time with each new variant of the virus.
There are also some people who have either become new parents during the pandemic or have children aging into school years, and they will find these new 2022 Guidelines helpful as they are navigating decisions about the children.
In a perfect scenario, co-parenting families should be able to successfully predetermine an entire year‘s parenting time schedule from Day 1 of the new year. The Guidelines provide instructions for every holiday and major school break. The new Guidelines have calendar feature that has been in secret beta version for the last few years, but this it is finally publicized here. Ideally, parents should be able to use this calendar as a model, but you will likely have to tweak it to fit your family’s unique schedule.
Check out the “red-lined” version here that compares the old guidelines with the new changes.
Please contact us to discuss whether the new 2022 changes and amendments will affect you or your family. Call our office at (317) 721-8044 to discuss with a family law attorney or click here to set up a virtual appointment via video conference.