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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ind. Courts - "Judges revise ‘parenting time’ rules in custody cases"

Maureen Hayden reports today in the Logansport Pharos-Tribune in a story that begins:

INDIANAPOLIS — After two years of review, Indiana judges have approved proposed changes to a comprehensive set of guidelines aimed at reducing conflict between parents in child custody cases.

The recommended revisions to the state’s Parenting Time Guidelines cover an array of issues that arise in custody battles, from where children spend their holidays to what happens when warring parents can’t agree on the most basic rules for visitation.

The proposed revisions to the 33-page guidelines were approved last week by the Indiana Judicial Conference, whose members include the state’s trial court judges. If approved by the Indiana Supreme Court, the revised guidelines are expected to go into effect early next year for use by courts throughout the state.

The guidelines serve as a model set of custody-related rules for courts and parents. While some of the language in the guidelines has changed, the basic premise driving them remains the same; that is, that under most circumstances, a child is best served by two actively engaged parents.

“In making any changes we tried to remember the reason for the guidelines is so children can have safe, stable, predictable parenting time with each parent,” said Steuben County Judge William Fee, who chaired a committee of judges who spent two years reviewing the guidelines that were first adopted in 2001.

Some of the changes set out rules for visitation and other matters in painstaking detail. They include, for example, specific times of the day when children can go from one parent to another, spell out what holiday celebrations take precedence over birthday celebrations, and how to evenly split up Christmas vacations that spill over into the New Year.

The revised rules include more detailed rules for how judges can handle issues involving “high-conflict” parents who are unable or unwilling to cooperate with each other or the court.

They also include language that underscores the guidelines’ larger intent: “Parents and attorneys should always demonstrate a spirit of cooperation.”

More from the story:
One area that the revised guidelines don’t yet include: Rules for when a “parenting coordinator” can be appointed by a judge to work with parents who are in deep dispute about visitation and other issues. The guidelines for parenting coordinators, including how they’re trained and whether they can make binding recommendations, are still undergoing some study.
Here is the proposal that is on the Indiana Courts website.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 18, 2012 08:59 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts