Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What About Electronic/Online Parenting Time in Indiana

I have written before on this (Parenting Time - Alternate Means) but I ran across Electronic Communication as Parental Visitation? from Family Law Prof and thought it worth writing on again. Seems Illinois has passed a law with the following provision:

Illinois General Assembly - Illinois Compiled Statutes

(2) "Electronic communication" means time that a parent spends with his or her child during which the child is not in the parent's actual physical custody, but which is facilitated by the use of communication tools such as the telephone, electronic mail, instant messaging, video conferencing or other wired or wireless technologies via the Internet, or another medium of communication.

Although that the Indiana Parenting Guidelines predate the explosion of Internet communications other than e-mail, I do not think there is anything in the following that does not include the same things as Illinois' statute. I do not think we need a statute (but might be something to think about

1.Between Parents. Parents shall at all times keep each other advised of their home and work addresses and telephone numbers. Notice of any change in this information shall be given to the other parent in writing. All communications concerning a child shall be conducted between the parents. Any communication shall occur at reasonable times and places unless circumstances require otherwise. A child shall not be used to exchange documents or financial information between parents.

2. With A Child Generally.
A child and a parent shall be entitled to private communications without interference from the other parent. A child shall never be used by one parent to spy or report on the other. Each parent shall encourage the child to respect and love the other parent. Parents shall at all times avoid speaking negatively about each other in or near the presence of the child, and they shall firmly discourage such conduct by relatives or friends.
3. With A Child By Telephone. Both parents shall have reasonable phone access to their child at all times. Telephone communication with the child by either parent to the residence where the child is located shall be conducted at reasonable hours, shall be of reasonable duration, and at reasonable intervals, without interference from the other parent.

If a parent uses an answering machine, voice mail or a pager, messages left for a child shall be promptly communicated to the child and the call returned.
I should also add that the Guidelines set out the minimum - there is no reason that the parties cannot agree to include other communication media as part of parenting time.


Randy said...

I think this electronic communication should be the norm and go without saying. As technology continues to expand and our children continue to grow, I think children should have the freedom to contact a parent at any given time as fit as well as parents having this same capability. While married, both parents and children alike are not hindered with guidelines, stipulations and minimums... In my opinion this should never substitute official physical parenting time as there are major limitations to online interaction. However, if there is a distance issue, we don't need to govern electronic communication to the point of counting minutes or count time against official parentng time but rather leave alone as a "norm" and expect that it will be utilized without it being governed. We should rather focus on strengthening verbiage on the consequences of parental alienation and force laws that protect a parent's relationship with their child(ren). If 10 year old little Jonny is alienating his fit and loving father then an advanced action should be taken to restore their relationship. This could/should include honest counseling between the two without interference from the other parent. The counselor's primary goal should be to reconcile the two with out bias. A full restoration should be in sight. If the counselor draws a conclution that one parent is the underlining factor for the alienation then that parent should get one on one counseling at their cost.

Stuart Showalter said...

Representative Jeff Thompson did introduce HB1256 last year on this issue. It did not get a hearing.


Sam Hasler said...

stuart -

I would not read much into the Bill not getting out of committee. My first thought was that I would prefer it in the Guidelines - after all they are (supposedly) for use by the parents. I would say few are the parents who can find the Indiana Code.

I wanted to emphasize two things: 1) that we ought to have the same rights under our current rules; and 2) that if there were any doubts to ask for it.

Randy -

You have accidently hit on one problem with the Guidelines - language. We are now suppsoed to use parenting time instead of visitation but parenting time includes more than older visitation. The communications section of the Guidelines is one example of that expansion - it is in addition and not a substitute to what we once called visitation.

I like your idea of counseling but have no idea of how to implement it. We would need a judge to order the counseling and that means more litigation and more tension between everyone. Would be a good thing if everyone could afford counseling.