Indiana Child Visitation Attorneys
Establishing a visitation schedule is one of the most difficult parts of divorce, both emotionally and logistically. You want to see less of your spouse, but as much of your kids as possible.
In an ideal world where everyone’s intentions and motivations are well-communicated, pure of heart, and considerate of everyone’s point of view, a couple can have calm, productive conversations to figure out a custody and visitation schedule that works well for them and the children. However, this scenario plays out very infrequently, and the legal system has to get involved.
Indiana has laws in place meant to protect parents in shared custody arrangements by offering legal recourse if the other parent won’t or can’t follow the parenting agreement. Interference with custody and visitation rights can be a crime. The child’s needs are the priority, and his or her welfare is what’s at stake.
Specifically, the Indiana Code states that the parenting plan must outline the best interests of the child. The court looks at a variety of factors, including the child’s age and gender, the wishes of the parents, the wishes of the child (if the child is at least 14 years old), how the child interacts with the people involved, and how the child conducts himself or herself at home, school, and in the community. The court also considers any patterns of domestic violence, as well as the mental and physical health of the people involved. Keep these things in mind when you’re considering divided parenting time. A visitation schedule, no matter how much sense it makes on paper, is an enormous change for your child and will have a significant impact on his or her daily life.
The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines (issued by the Indiana Supreme Court and followed in all counties) assume that the parents agree to accept, respect, and foster the needs of the child. The state considers the following items to be a child’s basic needs:
- Reassurance that he or she is not to blame for the parents’ separation/divorce.
- The ability to have a meaningful relationship with each parent, no matter the visitation schedule.
- Each parent is still a parent 100% of the time, and the child should feel that continued presence.
- To not be considered a mediator between the households or be pressured to take sides.
- To be financially supported by both parents, regardless of time spent.
- Consistent, quality time with both parents.
- To feel secure and relaxed around each parent without feeling inclined to manipulate one against the other.
- Safe and quality supervision by the parents and all additional caregivers.
- Ability to maintain and foster relationships with other adults, such as extended family.
Don’t overlook the incidentals. There will always be things that come up that seem small but can cause big problems, such as holiday schedules, transportation, and the changing needs of the child as he or she grows up. Communication is essential among everyone involved, not just for the sake of the child, but also to keep tensions low between the households. If the child is of school age, half days, conference days, school parties, periodic Monday holidays, and other incidentals pop up more often than you might realize. It’s best to establish as many details in the parenting plan as possible, considering the level of communication the parents can reasonably rely on.
In Kentucky, each county has the opportunity to create its own set of guidelines for parenting schedules. These guidelines are not relied on as heavily as they are in Indiana. Regardless of the state you are in, schedules should be optimized so that the child feels loved and wanted by both parents at all times. Occasional deviations from the schedule, such as the child spending an extra two hours a day with one parent due to work schedules, are encouraged to maximize the amount of time the child is able to spend with family (as opposed to childcare centers or other relatives).
Holidays tend to supersede the regular schedule. Many parents opt to simply alternate years, but sometimes family and religious traditions, work schedules, transportation, and other issues can get in the way of something that is supposed to be easy to follow. If one parent doesn’t celebrate Christmas, for example, it probably doesn’t make much sense to rotate that day each year. Every child and every family is different, so holidays don’t have to be traditional holidays. They can be considered three-day weekends, days the parents have off from work each year, birthdays, etc.
Vacations are also valuable time that must be considered in advance. This includes times the child is simply out of school. It’s important to maintain a reasonable level of flexibility, because families don’t always coordinate vacations around spring or winter breaks and plans aren’t always made way in advance. It’s wise to decide on not only a method of notification, but also how much time the parents have to notify each other and whose plans take precedence if no agreement can be reached.
We Can Help
Whatever your situation, the New Albany, IN, child visitation lawyers at McNeely Stephenson can help. We understand the issues and can guide you through the custody process, no matter how difficult or hopeless it may seem. We will work closely with you and help you make the best decisions possible. We have worked with many families, and we look forward to working with yours. For skilled and knowledgeable representation, contact us by calling 812-725-8224 or filling out our online form. We proudly serve communities throughout Kentucky and Indiana including, but not limited to, Jefferson County, KY; Floyd County, IN; Clark County, IN; and Harrison County, IN.