Celebrity breakups are often reported in the media. The tabloids seem to sell “news” about the most famous figures, like President Obama or “Brangelina,” or the most scandalous – Lindsay Lohan and Justin Bieber. The stories can be trite and dubious at times, but they can also be sincerely heartbreaking. One such story recently involves the custody battle between “Gossip Girl” actress, Kelly Rutherford, and her German husband now living in Monaco. Ms. Rutherford’s ex-husband won primary custody in family court in the U.S., and now the New York City based actress must travel to France if she wants to see her two children – one of whom she carried only 3 years ago, her daughter, and her 5 year old son.
Not being able to see your kids whenever you want can be heartbreaking for divorced parents. Some situations, like Ms. Rutherford’s, in which exes live far apart, require more sacrifice from each parent. Still, it takes some getting used to, even when your children are only across town, spending the weekend with their mother or father. Indiana parents are fortunate, however, because our Supreme Court has adopted parenting time rules and guidelines “based on the premise that it is usually in a child’s best interest to have frequent, meaningful and continuing contact with each parent.”
A Child’s Basic Needs: What is Behind the Guidelines
The guidelines were developed based on the above premise, with the input of family and child development professionals, including psychologists and attorneys, and divorced parents. Everyone agrees that, “both parents nurture their child in important ways, significant to the development and well being of the child.”
The guidelines were developed for the court, to provide a model where parents are unable to agree on parenting time between each other. The model is intended to be flexible and may be adjusted based on the needs and circumstances of individual families and children, but it will establish a minimum amount of time each parent has a right to spend with their child. This time is enforceable under law.
It is helpful for divorced and divorcing parents to consider their child’s needs above all else when adjusting to parenting time. The needs of your child are paramount – more important than getting justice for how your ex-spouse may have mistreated you, and more important even than your own immense love for your child.
Healthy Child Development
In Indiana, the basic needs for healthy child development are published in the guidelines, so that children of parents living apart can:
· know that the parents’ decision to live apart is not the child’s fault;
· develop and maintain an independent relationship with each parent, and have continuing care and guidance from each parent;
· be free from having to side with either parent and to be free from conflict between the parents;
· have a relaxed, secure relationship with each parent without being placed in a position to manipulate one parent against the other;
· enjoy regular and consistent time with each parent;
· be financially supported by each parent, regardless of how much time each parent spends with the child;
· be physically safe and adequately supervised when in the care of each parent and have a stable, consistent and responsible child care arrangement when not supervised by a parent;
· and, develop and maintain meaningful relationships with other significant adults (grandparents, stepparents and other relatives) as long as these relationships do not interfere with or replace the child’s primary relationship with the parents.
Legal Help With Child Custody and Parenting Time
If you are contemplating a divorce, or are negotiating child custody and parenting time with a co-parent, the assistance of an Indiana family attorney can provide professional experience and peace of mind. Please contact Danville attorney Chris Arrington today to schedule a meeting.