Section IV of Indiana’s Parenting Time Guidelines focuses on the topic of parallel parenting. Parallel parenting is different than the standard parenting time model and is reserved for situations in which the parents have a great deal of animosity toward one another. If the court declares that the parties are high-conflict, then a Parallel Parenting Plan Court Order may be issued.
Indiana’s guidelines define “high conflict parents” as those 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 that place the child’s well-being at risk.”
The goal of parallel parenting is to minimize or eliminate the parents’ contact with each other while still allowing the parents access to the children. The Indiana courts will always default on the belief that having both parents in the child’s life is better than the loss of contact with one parent. There may be situations that justify keeping a parent out of a child’s life, and the courts will make that determination when necessary, but the general presumption is that having both parents in the child’s life is the best situation for the children.
What is a Parallel Parenting Plan?
Parallel parenting plans typically involve one parent getting sole legal custody of the children while the other parent has the right to visitation. Legal custody confers the right to make key decisions in the child’s life. These include decisions over the child’s education, health care choices, and religious instruction.
Differences between parallel parenting time and standard parenting time include:
- No mid-week parenting time
- No make-up parenting time
- No opportunities for additional parenting time based on the level of contact between the two parents
The courts will set the matter for review every 180 days to give the parents the opportunity to put their differences aside for the sake of the children.
What is in a Parallel Parenting Time Agreement?
Indiana’s Parenting Time Guidelines include an example of a parallel parenting time arrangement. Parenting plans under this model will state the parenting time for each parent. During each parent’s parenting time, they will be considered the “on-duty” parent for the child. The “on-duty” parent will make decisions concerning the day-to-day care of the child. If not the parent who was awarded sole custody, the decisions must not infringe upon the legal custody rights of the parent who has sole legal custody. In other words, the parent with sole custody is the only parent who can make decisions concerning the child’s education, health care, and religious instruction.
In addition, parallel parenting plans involve the use of a communication book, which will always accompany the child and reduce the need for interaction between the parents. The communication book is used to outline the child’s education, health care, and activities.
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Chris Arrington represents the interests of those who are filing for divorce in Indiana. Call our office today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin discussing your concerns immediately.