What are Parenting Time Guidelines?

In Indiana, parenting time refers to the concept known as “visitation” in most other states. In a typical divorce or custody matter involving non-married parents, one parent will be designated as the custodial parent, and the other will be entitled to spend a certain amount of time with his or her children according to a predetermined schedule. This time is known as “parenting time.”

While divorcing and separating parents are encouraged to establish parenting schedules that meet both of their respective needs, the Parenting Time Guidelines provide comprehensive direction for parents who are unable to agree to their own terms. The guidelines cover everything from general provisions for parental communication to specific requirements for holidays and summer vacation.

Key Facts about Indiana’s Parenting Time Guidelines

If you are preparing to go through a divorce or separation, it will most likely be in your best interests (and your children’s) to work out a parenting time arrangement with your soon-to-be-former spouse or ex-partner. But, if you believe you will need to rely on Indiana’s Parenting Time Guidelines (e.g., if your spouse is unwilling to work with you in good faith to develop a parenting plan), here are some key facts you should know:

1. The Parenting Time Guidelines Have Different Rules for Children in Different Age Groups.

Indiana’s Parenting Time Guidelines include separate provisions for children in three age groups: (i) infants and toddlers, (ii) children three years of age and older, and (iii) adolescents and teenagers. For example, for children ages three and older, the “regular” parenting time provisions are for the non-custodial parent to have his or her children:

  • On alternating weekends from 6:00pm on Friday to 6:00pm on Sunday;
  • One evening per week for up to four hours prior to 9:00pm; and,
  • On all scheduled holidays.

2. The Parenting Time Guidelines Can Be Extremely Detailed.

Along with specific parenting schedules, the Parenting Time Guidelines contain a number of other detailed requirements as well. For example:

  • The custodial parent must “send an appropriate and adequate supply of clean clothing,” and the non-custodial parent must, “return such clothing in a clean condition.”
  • Children should be picked up “at the front entrance of the appropriate residence,” and neither parent should enter the other’s residence unless they expressly agree otherwise.

3. The Parenting Time Guidelines Provide for Limited Flexibility.

Despite their extreme level of detail and often-rigid requirements, the Parenting Time Guidelines provide for a certain measure of flexibility. For example, if one parent needs to adjust the normal schedule, the guidelines call on both parents to attempt to reach a mutually-agreeable resolution, which should include providing for “make up” time as necessary.

4. There are Strict Penalties for Violating the Guidelines.

When deviating from the Parenting Time Guidelines’ standard requirements, both parents must be cautious to remain within the guidelines’ bounds. Withholding parenting time for an alleged failure to comply is prohibited, and the possible penalties for violating the guidelines include:

  • Fines, imprisonment and community service for contempt of court
  • Injunctive relief
  • Criminal penalties
  • Payment of the other parent’s legal fees

Contact Hains Law, LLC in Carmel, IN

If you live in the Carmel, IN area and have questions about child custody, parenting time (visitation) or any other family-related legal matter, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation. To speak with attorney Joshua R. Hains in confidence, please call (317) 588-2883 or inquire online today.


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