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Enforcing Parenting Time in Indiana During the Pandemic

On Behalf of | Aug 19, 2020 | Family Law

During the COVID-19 pandemic, parents must follow parenting time arrangements stipulated in existing court-ordered agreements.

Parenting Time During COVID-19

COVID-19 pandemic has created stressful conditions for millions of Americans. State officials across the country have closed non-essential businesses, restaurants, and schools to prevent the spread of the virus. Most state governors, including Indiana’s Governor Eric Holcomb, have issued Stay-at-Home Orders that have left many separated and divorced parents confused about the proper way to handle parenting time.

In March, the Indiana Supreme Court issued Order number 20S-MS-238 which addresses parenting time rules and guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic. The order states that existing court orders regarding parenting time and child custody shall remain in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents living in separate households with shared custody are expected to follow parenting time terms in existing court orders. If parents do not have a copy of their current court order, they can obtain a copy from the clerk’s office at the court where the order was issued.

Parents should understand there is no deviation from existing parenting time orders, unless existing orders are modified by the court. Parents who wish to modify existing orders should contact their family law attorney to make necessary changes and submit proper documents to the court. If parents do not have an existing court order in place, an Indiana family law attorney can draw up a parenting time agreement that is acceptable to both parents.

Stay at Home Orders do not prohibit travel for parenting time. When travel is not feasible, the Indiana Supreme Court urges parents to arrange parenting time through phone calls, emails, and video chats. If parenting time is hindered for either or both parents by illness during the COVID-19 pandemic, the court allows parents to make up any missed parenting time.

COVID-19 has closed many workplaces and schools, so parents are working and schooling children from home. The court urges parents to work together to accommodate parenting time schedules in court orders while still following safety guidelines. If one parent refuses to comply based on unfounded COVID-19 concerns or as a way to purposely interfere with parenting time orders, legal issues should be discussed with a family law attorney. Indiana courts do not allow parents to use COVID-19 and Stay at Home Orders as a tool to prohibit one parent or the other from seeing their children.