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Parenting Time

DISCLAIMER: This is intended to be an educational and informational guide.  It is not intended to be or to substitute for legal advice and representation.  Law, legal requirements, and procedures vary from place to place.  It is advisable to consult an attorney.

May a noncustodial parent be denied parenting time?

A parent not granted custody of a child is entitled to parenting time with the child. 

A custodial parent (parent having physical custody) may not deny parenting time with minor children because the noncustodial parent (parent with parenting time) does not pay child support.  However, a noncustodial parent's position in enforcing parenting time rights is much better when child support payments are current.  A noncustodial parent may file a contempt action and ask that the custodial parent be punished for denying parenting time.  The custodial parent may file a contempt action and ask that the noncustodial parent be punished for failing to pay child support.

What are some steps to exercise parenting time rights?

There are a number of steps a noncustodial parent can take to exercise parenting time rights:

  1. Make written requests for parenting time with your children on specific dates at specific times. Mail the request to the custodial parent.  
  2. If the custodial parent does not accept your requests, invite the custodial parent to propose alternative times.  
  3. Let the custodial parent know a response to your request is expected by a certain date.
  4. Keep copies of your requests.  
  5. Send cards, letters, and gifts (but not Court ordered support) directly to the children, keeping copies of them for your records.  (Always pay child support through your account in the Vanderburgh County Clerk's Support Office. Direct payments may be considered a gift).
  6. Show up for your parenting time. Let the custodial parent know in advance if the noncustodial parent will not exercise parenting time.  Explain why and try to reschedule.
  7. Keep a diary of each effort at parenting time and whether the noncustodial parent was able to have parenting time. 
  8. Be persistent, but polite. Do not give up. Do not take no for an answer, but do not be abusive.  
  9. Always follow the Court's orders.

What can happen if the noncustodial parent does not remain in contact with children?

It is important that a noncustodial parent make every effort to remain in contact with the children. If a parent fails to pay support for twelve (12) months or fails to have significant contact with the children for twelve (12) months, the custodial parent's new spouse may be able to adopt the children without the noncustodial parent's consent. 

What are the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines?

The parenting time guidelines were adopted by the Supreme Court of Indiana in December of 2000.  The guidelines are based on the premise that it is usually in a child's best interest to have frequent, meaningful, and continuing contact with both parents.  The guidelines are based upon the developmental stages of children.  The term "parenting time" replaces the word "visitation" to emphasize the importance of the time a parent spends with a child.  The guidelines are a minimum and apply to all custody situations including paternity, divorce, sole custody, and joint custody. They do not apply to situations involving family violence, substance abuse, risk of flight with a child, or other circumstances the court reasonably believes endanger the child's physical health or safety, or significantly impair the child's emotional development.  There is a presumption that the Indiana Parenting Guidelines are applicable in all cases and any deviation by the parties or the Court must be accompanied by a written explanation indicating why the deviation is necessary or appropriate.  The guidelines are available in the Indiana Rules of Court.  Copies also available at the Legal Aid Society office and juvenile and divorce court.  They are also on the LAS and State of Indiana websites.