When custody and parenting time have been determined in a divorce or paternity action, a parenting time schedule is often put into place. Generally, a standard parenting time schedule when one parent has been granted primary or sole physical custody of a child over the age of three (3) is that the non-custodial parent will receive a midweek visitation (this may be overnight depending on the age of the child and the circumstances of the parents) and every other weekend from Friday evening to Sunday evening1.
This schedule is a guideline, and can be adjusted according to what is best for the child and parties. For example, if Mother has an obligation each Tuesday evening or the child is in an activity that Father participates in on Thursdays, the parties may amend their parenting time schedule to accommodate these activities into the midweek.
Even with a detailed parenting time schedule, there are often occasions where the schedule must adapt to the lives of all parties and the child. The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines (herein, “IPTG”) have anticipated several of these scenarios, and have included salutation into the guidelines.
One such topic is the opportunity for additional parenting time (formerly known as the right of first refusal). Pursuant to the recently amended IPTGs, if one parent is unable to care for the child during his or her parenting time, that parent shall first offer the other parent the opportunity for additional parenting time2. So, for example, if Mother has a meeting on Saturday for several hours, before she drops the child off at the babysitter’s, she should contact Father to offer him that additional parenting time on Saturday.
The new IPTGs and commentary thereto now provide that if the child is being cared for by a household member of the parent needing childcare, this does not trigger the opportunity for additional time, but has defined what other persons may care for the child. Household members are defined as those who are related to the child by blood, marriage, or adoption3. So, in the above example, if Mother’s current husband (step-father) is available to watch the child on Saturday, the opportunity for additional parenting time is not triggered. However, if Mother’s boyfriend is the only one available to care for the child, Mother shall offer Father the opportunity for additional parenting time. The new definition also allows for grandparents who live in the household to care for the child, as they are related by blood.
Understanding the opportunity for additional parenting time and the persons who may provide childcare are important to maintaining a cohesive parenting time schedule. We hope that this blog post has been helpful in understanding the nuances of the opportunity for additional parenting time. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the state of Indiana. This blog post was written by attorney, Jessica Keyes.