In domestic law cases, one aspect of child custody is communication between a parent and child when the other parent has parenting time. Keeping those lines of communication open to allow a child access to both parents via phone, internet, mail or otherwise allows for strong relationships to continue with both parents, despite the child’s physical location.
The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines (herein, IPTG) provide guidance as to communication and ways to keep the lines of communication open1. The IPTGs discuss different types of communication such as communication between parents, telephone communication, mail communication, electronic communication, and emergency communication. All of these types of communication are explored in the IPTGs with the best interests of the child(ren) always in mind.
So, how does communication work effectively? As with child custody, having a set schedule is usually the best and easiest way to promote communication. For example, if Mom has parenting time on Wednesdays and every other weekend, the parents may agree that she has phone time for 15 minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with Dad getting phone time on Saturdays when the child is with Mother. Having this time planned out allows for both parents to remain in frequent contact, get updates about the children, and talk about school, activities, etc. that are a part of the children’s daily lives.
Other communication is also a good way for all parties to keep in contact. With more recent technology, text messages and instant messages can occur frequently. Also, video chats only require an internet connection. There are limitations to this communication however depending on whether the child has a cell phone or the availability of the computer at a given time. Additionally, the IPTGs specify that the provisions regarding electronic communication shall not be construed to interfere with the authority of either parent to impose reasonable restrictions to a child’s access to the Internet.
The IPTGs also provide that there should not be interference from one parent to the other’s communication with the child. For example, if a parent leaves a voicemail for the child on the other parent’s phone, that parent is responsible for having the child return the call. Parents also should not block a parent’s number, turn off the phone when a call is expected, or monitor the call unnecessarily.
Communication between parents and children is a key tool for families, and should be as open and frequent as is practical. Reviewing the IPTGs and keeping a schedule for communication can help promote healthy communication.
We hope that this blog post has been informative regarding general communication issues. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the state of Indiana. This blog post was written by attorney, Jessica Keyes.