Indianapolis Child Visitation Attorney
Dedicated Family Law Attorneys
When parents in Indiana need to establish the division of a child’s time between two households, whether due to divorce, separation, paternity actions, or other life changes, courts apply Indiana child custody laws and the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines to make a decision and order an arrangement that is in the best interest of the child or children.
When you are the parent subject to a visitation order, you need help to make sure your Indiana parental rights are respected. At Keffer Hirschauer LLP, you will find an Indianapolis child visitation attorney who has the experience and knowledge to fight for your Indiana parental rights.
Contact us today to get started on your case.
Why Do You Need an Indianapolis Child Visitation Attorney?
Indiana child custody laws include a range of factors for courts to consider when making decisions regarding child custody and visitation, or “parenting time.” The primary factor to be considered, however, is the best interests of the child or children.
To ensure that an order regarding child custody and parenting time in Indiana respects both the best interests of your child and your parental rights, it is important to be familiar with Indiana child custody laws and the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. It is even more important to have an Indianapolis child visitation attorney on your side who knows how the laws and Guidelines are interpreted and applied by the courts.
At Keffer Hirschauer LLP, we know the law and the local court system. Our Indiana parenting time lawyers will evaluate your case and determine the best path forward for you to obtain the visitation schedule you desire so you can maintain a strong relationship with your child or children.
What You Need to Know First about Indiana Parental Rights
An Indianapolis child visitation attorney should help you understand the legal concepts relevant to child custody and visitation cases. Indiana parental rights primarily include legal custody and physical custody.
What is Legal Custody?
Legal custody of a child confers the right to make important decisions related to the rearing of the child or children, while physical custody refers to the Indiana parenting time schedule, also called visitation.
In Indiana, no presumption exists that deems one parent more fit than the other, and parental rights are granted or denied based on the specific relevant factors of the case.
Legal custody of a child can be granted to one or both parents. When sole custody is granted to one parent, the non-custodial parent still has a right to parenting time or visitation unless the court determines otherwise.
Under Indiana joint custody laws, an order for joint legal custody does not necessarily mean that the parenting time schedule will be divided equally between the two households. Indiana courts must define and order a parenting time schedule that the court believes will serve the best interests of the child. The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines are generally used to structure and administer parenting time arrangements.
A parenting time order in Indiana can be made by the court during legal separation or divorce proceedings, in a divorce decree, or in the course of hearings or orders issued in other family law cases, such as paternity actions. In addition to the primary factor of the child’s best interests, Indiana Code Title 31, Article 17 sets forth the various considerations to be reviewed by the court in making determinations regarding child custody and parenting time.
If a court deems it appropriate, a child may be interviewed by the judge in chambers to obtain information regarding the parent-child relationship, family dynamics, and the child’s wishes. One or both parties or the court may obtain expert opinions from appropriate professional personnel in the course of determining the healthiest custody and parenting time arrangements for a child or children.
When you work with an Indianapolis child visitation attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP, you gain access to the highly respected specialists and professionals with whom we have developed relationships over the years. Our Indiana parenting time lawyers know when an expert opinion is necessary or beneficial to the argument for your parental rights, and we know how to leverage our contacts for your family’s best interests.
Indiana Parental Rights of a Non-Custodial Parent
A parent who is not granted legal custody in Indiana is still entitled to parenting time, or visitation rights, unless a court finds, after a hearing, that parenting time or visitation with the non-custodial parent presents a risk to the child or children’s physical health or emotional well-being.
In some cases, such as a non-custodial parent who has been convicted of crimes against children, the court must order only supervised visitation, if parenting time is granted at all. These decisions are at the discretion of the court and, again, the judge may interview the child or children in chambers if the court deems it helpful in evaluating the nature of the parent-child relationship.
In most cases, however, the court awards parenting time to a non-custodial parent. Once an order for parenting time has been issued by the court, the custodial parent must respect and abide by that order, although modifications to parenting time orders can be made by the court if it is found to be in the child or children’s best interests.
A non-custodial parent can request an injunction against a custodial parent who denies parenting time or child visitation that has been ordered by the court. The custodial parent can be held in contempt of court for willful violations of a parenting order. Significantly, a custodial parent may not withhold visitation with a child to a non-custodial parent based on failure to pay ordered child support payments, but the court may consider failure to pay child support when evaluating an action of this sort against the custodial parent.
When you are concerned for your children’s safety or are unlawfully being denied your right to parenting time, resolving matters quickly and efficiently is of the highest importance. An Indianapolis child visitation attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP knows how to act quickly to protect your children and your parental rights.
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Modification of Parenting Time Orders
A court may modify an existing parenting time order if modification is in the best interests of the child or children and if a substantial change in circumstances has occurred related to a factor considered by the court in making the original determination. An Indianapolis child visitation attorney from 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.
The relocation of one parent is a change that can result in modification of a parenting time order in Indiana. Any person granted or seeking parental rights—or other rights to a child, such as grandparent visitation—must advise all other individuals who have or are seeking rights of any changes in home address, phone numbers, and email addresses. Relocation, except in specific cases, must be approved by the court that issued the family’s custody and parenting time orders.
Indiana Code § 31-17-2.2-1 sets forth the factors the court should consider approving or denying a relocation request by a parent. If relocation is approved, the current parenting time order remains in effect until modifications are made by the court.
The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines
The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines were adopted by the Indiana Supreme Court based on the presumption that it is generally in a child’s best interest to maintain regular, meaningful contact with both parents. Sustaining the parent-child relationship can be difficult when parents live apart and requires extra effort on the part of both parents.
The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines, based on the developmental stages of children and input from experts, set forth a model for creating a parenting time or visitation schedule that allows both parents to maintain a healthy, beneficial relationship with their child or children. When you are dealing with parenting time issues in Indiana, you need an Indianapolis child visitation attorney who understands the way the local courts may interpret and apply these Guidelines.
The Preamble and Introduction to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines
The preamble to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines sets forth the purpose and intent of the Guidelines. The commentary following the preamble explains that the use of the term “parenting time” rather than “visitation” is intentional and the goal is to convey the importance and reality of the ongoing parent-child relationship.
The introductory portion of the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines notes the following basic needs of a child:
- Children need to know that their parents’ separation is not their fault
- Children should maintain a relationship with and receive care and guidance from both parents
- Children should not be pressured to side with one parent over the other or be included in conflicts between parents
- Children should not be used by one parent to manipulate the other
- Time with each parent should be regular and consistent
- Children should be supported financially by both parents
- Parents should ensure children are safely supervised and provide appropriate childcare when they are not able to supervise directly
- Children should maintain relationships with family members and other important adults in their lives
Sometimes, unfortunately, these basic needs are in conflict with the reality of a family’s situation. An Indianapolis child visitation attorney can help you understand how a court places the best interests of a child at the forefront when deciding issues of child custody and parenting time.
Understanding the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines
The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines issue advice on cooperative parenting. For example, the Guidelines include recommendations on communications between parents and with the children. Parents should keep one another informed and should not use their child to transfer information between parents. Unless otherwise prohibited by the court, each parent is entitled to private communications with the child or children without interference from the other parent.
The Guidelines also address best practices for the implementation of parenting time. Parents have specific responsibilities related to the transportation of children, punctuality, and making sure the child or children are appropriately dressed and in possession of a supply of clean clothing when transferred to the other parent. The Guidelines also establish boundaries related to the private residence of a parent and requirements when picking up or dropping off a child.
Changes in an Indiana parenting time schedule are allowed by agreement, and the Guidelines recommend that parents are flexible and use good judgment in making these decisions. However, it is emphasized that ensuring parenting time occurs as ordered is both a right and responsibility of each parent. Maintaining the Indiana parenting time schedule set forth by the court is important to establish a routine for children. One parent is not permitted to withhold visitation established by a parenting time order for any of the following reasons:
- A child does not wish to spend time with the other parent without justifiable reason
- A child has a minor illness
- A child has alternate plans
- A child is not home at pick-up time
- The non-custodial parent has not paid child support as ordered by the court
- The parent does not wish for the child to go
- The weather is poor, unless unsafe travel conditions exist
- The child has no appropriate or clean clothes to wear
- The non-custodial parent did not meet terms set by the custodial parent
The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines attempt to address the primary issues that arise in child custody and visitation. Both parents are required to actively stay informed and share information regarding the child’s school, medical, and other personal records. The Guidelines provide advice for managing problems in various areas and note that the best interests of the child or children are served by mutual agreement by parents in decision-making and conflict resolution.
Children’s needs change as they grow. In an effort to prevent disputes throughout childhood and adolescence, the Guidelines address specific factors of parenting time at different stages of a child’s life. Parents are advised to establish an Indiana parenting time schedule according to these age-based best practices. Holiday schedules should also be addressed as part of a family’s extended parenting time planning.
For parents with high-conflict relationships, the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines set forth rules for parallel parenting. These scenarios usually involve a sole custody award to one parent. Contact and communication between the parents are limited to avoid damaging conflict. A parenting time coordinator is appointed by the court in these situations to manage the relationships and interactions between parents and of each parent with the child or children as needed. In high-conflict cases, having an Indianapolis child visitation attorney with deep knowledge of Indiana parental rights laws is especially critical.
Contact an Indianapolis Child Visitation Attorney Today
Children grow and change quickly. Family dynamics, too, are always in flux. From the early stages of a divorce throughout adolescence and at least until a child is no longer a minor, parents need Indiana parenting time lawyers to help ensure Indiana parental rights are protected and resolve issues before or as they arise.
An Indianapolis child visitation attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP will help protect your rights and negotiate the Indiana parenting time schedule that is in the best interests of you and your child, whatever stage of parenting you are in.