Monday, May 19, 2008

Examining Indiana's Parenting Time Guidelines: Scope of Application

Continuing my examination of Indiana's Parenting Time Guidelines, I am discussing today the section labeled as " Scope of Application". I am quoting only portions and not all of The Parenting Time Guidelines and adding my comments as I go along. Please remember that my comments that do not quote case law are only opinion and not authoritative.

This section sets out the coverage of the Guidelines.

1. These Guidelines are applicable to all child custody situations, including paternity cases and cases involving joint legal custody where one person has primary physical custody. However, they are not applicable to situations involving family violence, substance abuse, risk of flight with a child, or any other circumstances the court reasonably believes endanger the child’s physical health or safety, or significantly impair the child’s emotional development.

The last sentence tracks the statutory language regarding parenting time. See Examining Indiana's Parenting Time Guidelines: The Parenting Time Statutes for discussion of these statutes. I continue thinking the problems discussed in my Paternity and modifying visitation - Part 2 remain. I have found several NFP (not for publication) cases interpreting this section of the Guidelines but being NFP cases these cannot be used as precedent for other cases.

The commentary to this Guideline states the Guidelines are not themselves grounds for modification. See also Kaplan v. Kaplan (html format).

The second Guideline here goes a bit further than the first by stating that the Guidelines are presumed to apply in all the cases mentioned in the first Guideline. This Guideline establishes a procedural rule for deviations from the Guidelines:
...Any deviation from these Guidelines by either the parties or the court must be accompanied by a written explanation indicating why the deviation is necessary or appropriate in the case.
The Commentary to this Guideline describes what is expected of this written explanation:
The written explanation need not be as formal as Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law; however, it must state the reason(s) for the deviation.
Haley v. Haley held that failing to provide a written explanation is grounds for reversing a trial court's judgment.

I would ask that if you have anything to say about any experiences with the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines that you use the Comments function below. It may be a benefit to others.

If you want to read my previous articles on parenting time, just click the link below next to word Label. If you need an attorney for a parenting time case, give me a call.

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