Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines
Parenting Time refers to the time children spend with their parents when they are no longer living in one home. Unfortunately, divorcing couples frequently refer to parenting time as “their” right, as does the law. I think it more appropriate to think of parenting time as the CHILD’S right to have frequent and consistent access to both parents. The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines may be found at www.in.gov/judiciary/rules/parenting/.
The parties may agree on a parenting time schedule or a court may hear evidence before deciding what parenting time schedule would be in the child’s best interests. While both may rely on the recommendations of the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines, those recommendations represent the minimum time a child should have with the noncustodial parent. An experienced family law mediator will help you find the best parenting time schedule for your family and will help you think outside the box if you have equal parenting time or an unusual work schedule.
In a nutshell, “Guideline” parenting time for the noncustodial parent (for children over five) will be alternating weekends, alternating holidays, and half of the summer. When the parties live in close proximity, there may be a midweek overnight. This schedule tends to put all the parenting tasks on the custodial parent, limiting his or her opportunities for education or career advancement, while the noncustodial parent is left out of the picture except for weekends and vacations. This schedule simply does not lend itself to good parenting plans for either parent and especially not for the children.
An alternative schedule that would allow career or educational growth for both parents, and equal parenting time for the children, is when each parent has the same two consecutive days each week, alternating weekends from Friday to Monday, and alternating Holidays. This parenting plan allows the children to have more consistency in their lives (they know where they will be Monday through Thursday without checking a calendar!) and equal access to both parents. Further, and perhaps just as importantly, it gives both parents an equal “opportunity” to be responsible for parenting tasks such as homework, laundry, and cooking, and the freedom to be without such responsibilities on two days one week and five days the next.
An equal parenting plan might look like this:
Parent A has Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday,
Parent B has Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday,
Parent A has Monday and Tuesday,
Parent B has Wednesday and Thursday, and then the rotation starts all over again.
It’s called the 5-5-2-2 Parenting Plan.