The newly revised Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines (herein, “IPTGs”) address several issues relating to parenting time in Indiana, and provide clarification for a number of scenarios to help parents best utilize their parenting time schedules.
The IPTGs are just that, a guide, and the parties can agree or be ordered to implement a different schedule or parenting time arrangement as necessary. However, in many cases, when an agreement cannot be reached, the IPTGs provide clarification.
The IPTGs provide guidance for topics including holidays, school breaks, children of different ages, activities, and many, many more. One topic and question that comes up fairly often in the practice of domestic law is when the child is very ill or has recently had surgery. What happens to regular parenting time then?
The IPTGs provide insight into this situation in the commentary to the Guidelines1. Section (I)(C)(2) provides that: “Whenever there is a need to adjust the established parenting schedules because of events outside the normal family routine, the parent who becomes aware of the circumstance shall notify the other parent as far in advance as possible. Both parents shall then attempt to reach a mutually acceptable adjustment to the parenting schedule. If an adjustment results in one parent losing scheduled parenting time with the child, “make-up” time should be exercised as soon as possible. If the parents cannot agree on “make-up” time, the parent who lost the time shall select the “make-up” time within one month of the missed time.”
A common example of this in action is when a child requires a non-emergency tonsillectomy. The surgery is scheduled during Dad’s time, but recovery lasts into Mom’s time. Mom wishes to spend time with child during his/her recovery, and requests that the child have parenting time with her as usual.
However, because there is a surgery involved, moving the child from house to house may not be comfortable for the child. Also, the child may still be very tired from pain medications or otherwise, and moving the child for parenting time may be difficult. If the child is well enough that parenting time is appropriate, parenting time should likely occur. However, if the child is still very ill or recovering, the parent may miss their normal parenting time, and make up time may need to be scheduled.
The issue of major illness and surgery is difficult because often both parents want to be actively involved, and neither wants to miss parenting time with the child. Open communication regarding scheduling the surgery and possibly allowing the other parent to visit and bring ice cream or treats may make the issue run more smoothly. If parenting time is missed, work to make up that time, and hopefully, the child will be active and ready for fun again soon.
We hope that this blog post has been helpful in understanding parenting time when a child is seriously ill or has recently had surgery. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the state of Indiana. This blog post was written by attorney, Jessica Keyes.
- See IPTG, Section (I)(C)(2), Commentary; https://www.in.gov/judiciary/rules/parenting/