The most recent update to Indiana’s law involves determining how parenting time is decided by the courts, protecting parent-child interactions, and ensuring that the children have access to both parents when appropriate. While the law will not change existing parenting schedules and cannot be used as a good reason to revisit a parenting schedule, parenting schedules in the future will be based on the revised guidelines.
Prior to January 1, 2022, the old guidelines required parents to relay messages from the other parent to the child. However, the old provisions did not include text or email. They included pagers and voicemail, which are used sporadically by today’s humans. The guidelines now explicitly state that a parent has the right to communicate with their child privately, and the parent may not record these conversations. If they do, the information would not be admissible. The law allows parents to restrict access to communication devices as a punishment, but they may not restrict communication between the child and their parent.
Child Exchange Guidelines
Two changes were made to the law here. Firstly, parents who bring a third party to an exchange that causes animosity with the other parent can be prohibited from doing so. Second, parents are now discouraged from using police stations as exchange centers unless there is a history of violence or intimidation between the parents.
In some cases, a parent may miss their visitation time due to issues outside of their control. These include work and illness but not much else. In that case, the parent can request to make up the missed time but cannot do so during holidays or other special times.
A parent who needs to move is now required to issue notice of the move 30 days prior to the move day. Beforehand, it was 90 days. If the move does not interfere with the child’s school district or other matters, then the move need not be reported.
The coronavirus created serious compliance issues for parents trying to navigate visitation issues with the realities of the pandemic. This spurred several legislative efforts to cover these exigent situations. In the courts, it created a backlog of contempt citations and modification proposals. The court affirms that the visitation order is enforceable even during a pandemic, but pandemic-related excuses for missing visitation can be considered extenuating.
The new guidelines give parents the ability to file joint visitation agreements to accommodate a pandemic. The court will still need to approve the order, however.
The Bottom Line
Family law has seen some upheaval over the past couple of years due to the coronavirus, but the rules remain more or less the same for Indiana couples modifying custody agreements or seeking a divorce. If you are seeking a divorce in Indiana, call Chris Arrington today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin discussing your needs immediately.