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A child whose parents live apart has special needs related to the parent-child relationship. A child's needs and ability to cope with the parent's situation change as the child matures. Parents should consider these needs as they negotiate parenting time. They should be flexible and create a parenting time agreement which addresses the unique needs of the child and their circumstances. Parents and attorneys should always demonstrate a spirit of cooperation. The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines are designed to assist parents and courts in the development of their own parenting plans. In the event the parties cannot create their own parenting time agreement, these guidelines represent the minimum time a parent should have to maintain frequent, meaningful, and continuing contact with a child.

It is important for a child to have as much contact with both parents as possible. Interference with reasonable communication between a parent and child, including monitoring of that communication is destructive not only to the child’s relationship with the other parent, but are also destructive to the child. Attempts to block access to and contact with the other parent may violate these parenting time guidelines. These types of behaviors may lead to sanctions, a change of parenting time, or in some cases, a change of custody. The prohibition applies equally to both parents.

When a disagreement occurs regarding parenting time and the requirements of these Guidelines, both parents shall make every effort to discuss options, including mediation, in an attempt to resolve the dispute before going to court.

Neither parenting time nor child support shall be withheld because of either parent's failure to comply with a court order. Only the court may enter sanctions for noncompliance. A child has the right both to support and parenting time, neither of which is dependent upon the other. If there is a violation of either requirement, the remedy is to apply to the court for appropriate sanctions.

Court orders regarding parenting time must be followed by both parents. Unjustified violations of any of the provisions contained in the order may subject the offender to contempt sanctions. These sanctions may include fine, imprisonment, and/or community service.

Under Indiana law, a noncustodial parent who regularly pays support and is barred from parenting time by the custodial parent may file an application for an injunction to enforce parenting time under Ind. Code § 31-17-4-4. Interference with custody or visitation rights may be a crime. Ind. Code § 35-42-3-4. In any court action to enforce an order granting or denying parenting time, a court may award reasonable attorney fees and expenses of litigation. A court may consider whether the parent seeking attorney fees substantially prevailed and whether the parent violating the order did so knowingly or intentionally. A court can also award attorney fees and expenses against a parent who pursues a frivolous or vexatious court action.

To insure more responsible parenting and to promote the healthy adjustment and growth of a child each parent should recognize and address a child's basic needs.  These include: to know that the parents' decision to live apart is not the child's fault; to develop and maintain an independent relationship with each parent and to have the continuing care and guidance from each parent; to be free from having to side with either parent and to be free from conflict between the parents; to have a relaxed, secure relationship with each parent without being placed in a position to manipulate one parent against the other; to enjoy regular and consistent time with each parent; to be financially supported by each parent, regardless of how much time each parent spends with the child; to be physically safe and adequately supervised when in the care of each parent and to have a stable, consistent and responsible child care arrangement when not supervised by a parent; and to 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.

To help better focus their attention appropriately and to attempt to ensure that the best interest of the children are met, parents should complete the parenting projects available from Up To Parents.

It will often be helpful for the parents to actually create a year-long parenting time calendar or schedules. This may include a calendar in which the parties have charted an entire year of parenting time. Forecasting a year ahead helps the parents anticipate and plan for holidays, birthdays, and school vacations. The parenting time calendar may include agreed upon deviations from the Guidelines, which recognize the specialized needs of the children and parents. Parenting Time Calendars may be helpful in arranging holidays, extended summer, and/or when the parents live at a distance and frequent travel arrangements are needed.  The Arizona Parenting Time Guidelines include numerous parenting time schedules that may assist parents in creating their own long-term schedules.

Existing parenting time orders on the date of adoption of the 2013 IPTG amendments shall be enforced according to the parenting time guidelines that were in effect on the date the parenting time order was issued. Changes to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines do not alone constitute good cause for amendment of an existing parenting time order; however, a court or parties to a proceeding may refer to these guidelines in making changes to a parenting time order after the effective date of the guidelines. Modification of your current parenting time order to adopt the 2013 IPTG may be done through agreement of the parents or through a contested proceeding in court.

If court action is initiated, the Guidelines require the parents to enter into mediation unless otherwise ordered by the court.  Before entering mediation parents should familiarize themselves with the Indiana Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules of Court [ADR].  These provide the procedural framework for settling child custody and other matters without court intervention.  The parties may select a mediator themselves or have one appointed by the court.  Mediation costs range from free to hundreds of dollars per hour.

Additional pages on this site provide parents with resources, attorney information, the court process and research findings about custody and parenting time.

2013 Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines - March 1, 2013

Opportunity for Additional Parenting Time - Shelton v Shelton 2005

The trial court found that while children were in regular care of grandparents at mother's home was an opportunity for additional parenting time.  Opportunity for Additional Parenting Time [2013 IPTG] - Lucas v Lucas 2015

Credibility of Parent - Stratton v Stratton 2005

Parents can be jailed for not ensuring that children participated in parenting time

When courts make a downward deviation from IPTG for NCP an explanation for the deviation is required - Rickman v Rickman 2013-09-10

When courts make an upward deviation from IPTG for NCP specific findings for the deviation are not  

Indiana Court of Appeals opines that the specific language of the Guidelines controls when IPTG is 
incorporated into a child custody agreement or order by reference - Paternity of RR 2015-01-27