The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines (“IPTG”) were recently revised and the “new” Guidelines will be implemented on March 1, 2013. What does that mean for you? Likely nothing, at least immediately. That is because the revised IPTG only apply to parenting time orders entered after March 1st. For practical purposes, that means two sets of Guidelines will exist, but only one will apply to your case based on the date your parenting time order was entered by the court.

Having said that, if both parents like all or part of the new Guidelines, and there are some very good revisions, an agreement may be filed with the presiding court requesting that the new Guidelines be ordered to apply in your case.

So what are those good revisions? Some that I find will help alleviate some stress and provide clarity are as follows:

  • Right of First Refusal. Clarifies that if a household family member (defined as someone related to the child by blood, marriage or adoption) is available to provide care, the right of first refusal need not be offered. This is an implementation of existing case law on this issue, but many parents were not aware of this rule.
  • Holiday vs. Regular Weekends. Modification of conflicts between holiday and regularly scheduled parenting time. The “old” IPTG set forth that one parent could not have three weekends in a row. At times, this could lead to confusion and throw off the usual weekend rotation when a holiday trumped a regular weekend, something that could be quite inconvenient. The revised IPTG sets forth that if a parent loses a weekend to a holiday, that weekend is lost and the other parent will have three weekends in a row. That may seem unfair on its face, but the holidays and weekends should even out over time. Also, it allows parents to know exactly which weekends they should have for the entire year
  • Christmas. The division of Christmas break has been changed. For anyone (including attorneys) who has had to map out the division of the Christmas holiday, this is a very welcome revision. In short, New Years Eve and Day are no longer considered holidays. Under the revised IPTG, the entire break is divided in half with the parents dividing the first and second half on a rotating basis. The parent who does not have the week with Christmas will have parenting time from noon – 9:00 p.m. on Christmas Day.

This set of revisions represents more of a common-sense reaction to challenges faced with the prior iteration of the IPTG rather than a sea change in approach.

I encourage you to review the new Guidelines as there are many more than what is discussed herein. As noted above, if agreed, the new IPTG can apply to your case. The link goes to a redline version which is helpful in reviewing exactly where the revisions were made.