The Modification of Parenting Time in Indiana
The modification of parenting time in Indiana is a rather straightforward process. However, just because the process is simple, doesn’t mean that the request will be always granted. In fact, even in cases where both parents agree on the modification, the court can still deny the request and reaffirm the original parenting time order. To develop a sound strategy for the modification of parenting time in Indiana, you’ll need to retain the services of an Indianapolis family law attorney who is adept at navigating these types of custody and parenting time proceedings.
The Indiana child visitation lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP can help you make a modification of parenting time or file a motion to modify a custody order in Indiana. Call us today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Indiana family law attorneys.
Parenting Time in Indiana
In Indiana, parents are encouraged to work together to develop a parenting time schedule using the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. These guidelines consider “parenting time” to include not only physical time spent with the child but also telephone calls, written (or “snail mail”) communication, and all electronic communications, such as email, texting, and FaceTime.
The Indiana parenting time guidelines differ depending on the age of the child. For example, a schedule for children that are over the age of three-years-old and live near their non-custodial parent will include alternating weekends, one evening each week, and scheduled holidays and school breaks. For children that are over the age of five, however, the parenting time schedule includes half of \ summer vacation, or, if the school runs year-round, half of fall and spring break.
The parenting time guidelines also differ based on the distance between the custodial and noncustodial parent’s homes. When the distance is considerable, children ages three and four may have four non-consecutive weeks during the year with the non-custodial parent, provided that parent gives at least 60 days’ notice of the which particular week they’d like to have the child stay with them.
Disagreements over Parenting Time in Indiana
If they cannot agree, each may submit a proposed parenting time schedule to the court. Such matters are often set for an evidentiary hearing, after which the judge determines the parenting time schedule. Parenting time orders made by the court are always rooted in the best interests of the child(ren) and based on the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. The custodial parent must then abide by this order, allowing the non-custodial parent the court-ordered parenting time with the child(ren).
As outlined in Indiana Code 31-17-4-4, a non-custodial parent that has been granted parenting time rights and regularly pays court-ordered child support, but is being barred by the custodial parent from exercising their parenting time rights, can file an application for an injunction against the custodial parent under Rule 65 of the Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure. Once the injunction has been filed, the court may grant, without notice, a temporary restraining order restraining the custodial parent from further violation of the parenting time order, and a hearing must be held on the topic at the court’s earliest convenience.
If the custodial parent proceeds to intentionally violate the injunction or temporary restraining order, without justifiable cause, Indiana Code 31-17-4-8 states that the custodial parent can be found in contempt of court. Furthermore, the court may order:
- the exercise of parenting time to make up for the time that was not exercised
- payment by the custodial parent for reasonable attorney’s fees, costs, and expenses incurred by the non-custodial parent
- the custodial parent to perform community restitution or service without compensation in a manner specified by the court.
The Modification of Parenting Time in Indiana
If a parenting time order has been made by the court, that order shall be enforced until a modification has been granted by the court. The law governing the modification of parenting time in Indiana can be found in Indiana Code 31-17-4-2, which states that “the court may modify an order granting or denying parenting time rights whenever modification would serve the best interests of the child.” The law, however, clarifies that “the court shall not restrict a parent’s parenting time rights unless the court finds that the parenting time might endanger the child’s physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development.”
Given the laws that govern the modification of parenting time in Indiana, a parent who seeks to make a modification will need to submit a petition to the court that presided over the original order. While it may be tempting to simply download the petition documents online, fill them out, and simply send them to the court, it’s highly recommended to first consult with an experienced Indiana child visitation attorney. An attorney will help ensure that the petition is filled out and filed to the satisfaction of the court. An attorney can also prepare the petitioner for court and help develop a strong argument demonstrating why a modification to parenting time is warranted.
If you’re in a situation where you’d like to make a modification to parenting time in Indiana, call Keffer Hirschauer LLP today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Indiana family law attorneys.
Sound Arguments for the Modification of Parenting Time in Indiana
Generally, courts are not inclined to make a modification to parenting time in Indiana unless the parenting time endangers the child’s safety or impairs their emotional development. For custodial parents who are seeking to modify the parenting time of a non-custodial parent, their Indiana child custody attorney should seek to demonstrate that since the last court order was made, non-custodial parent’s behavior has created a danger to the child and/or has a negative impact on the child’s emotional development. Depending on the facts, a modified court order could result in supervised or reduced parenting time, parenting time dependent upon completion of counseling, rehabilitation, or abstinence from drugs and alcohol.
Example Evidence Supporting the Reduction or Elimination of Parenting Time
- Testimony from witnesses who have seen the non-custodial parent or members of the non-custodial parent’s family abuse the child
- Testimony from witnesses who have seen the non-custodial parent use illegal drugs or abuse alcohol while in the presence of the child
- Medical documentation or testimony showing that the child has been injured or that the child has been sexually abused by the non-custodial parent or another member of their household
- Records relating to the non-custodial parent’s criminal convictions
- Expert testimony on the negative impact of visits on the child’s emotional development
For non-custodial parents who are seeking more parenting time with a child(ren), the evidence they present to the court will be much different. The Indiana family law attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP recommend that non-custodial parents consider providing documented evidence of increased participation in the child(ren)’s life and cooperation with the custodial parent. This may include being active in your child(ren)’s academic life, getting to know their teachers, and participating/volunteering at school events. It can also include living in close proximity to the custodial parent and the child and attending medical appointments.
Another great way to show that a modification to parenting time is warranted is taking advantage of every opportunity available for additional parenting time. For example, if a child spends time in day care or other third-party care, the non-custodial parent could use any days off from work to spend time with the child.
When making determinations about a modification to parenting time in Indiana, courts want to see clear evidence of the non-custodial parent’s actions. Therefore, it is recommended that non-custodial parents document everything possible. This could mean keeping notes about parenting time in a smartphone calendar or making sure to save all of the text message or email correspondence with the child’s custodial parent, teachers or anyone else involved in their life, like a sports coach or piano teacher.
Want to Make a Modification of Parenting Time in Indiana?
Prior to filing a petition for a modification of parenting time in Indiana, it’s vital that you understand the filing process, what to expect from the court and the strength of your grounds for modification. If you require assistance, the Indiana child visitation attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP can help you assess the appropriateness of and file a modification request or defend against requests by the other parent that harm your ability to see your child or children. Our team fully understands the weight of these types of situations, as well as the complex legal and emotional elements at play. Call Keffer Hirschauer LLP today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Indiana family law attorneys.