!! ATTENTION ALL PARENTS !!
Last week, the attorneys at Trapp Law were able to listen to a panel of judges in Marion, Hamilton, and Hendricks Counties discuss the effects that COVID-19 have on family law cases at this time. Below is some of the important information relating to parenting time that was given during these uncertain times.
- E-Learning days will be considered by most judges as normal school days, and will NOT be considered days off, or school “vacation” days. Regular parenting time should continue to take place.
- If school is cancelled for the rest of the year (after all e-learning days are completed), most judges will view this as the start of summer break, with the parties’ summer parenting time schedule to take effect.
- If one parent is working from home, and the other parent is working in the community, the opportunity for additional parenting time MAY apply. Judges consider this to be fact sensitive, and would expect parents to look at the children’s best interests in transporting them back and forth each day, as well as how disruptive this would be to the parents’/children’s schedules. Judges are also expecting parents to ensure that their children’s exposure to the virus is limited.
- Judges are looking to parents to maintain the children’s normal schedules as much as possible during these difficult times, so that when we do get back to our “normal lives” again, it won’t be a huge change for the children.
- Parenting time exchanges should take place as usual. The judges have warned that should not “take advantage” of this pandemic to refuse time to the other parent.
- If one parent is a first responder or healthcare worker, the judges are expecting parenting time to take place as usual, unless someone shows symptoms of being ill. If a parent chooses not to exercise parenting time due to their exposure concerns because of their line of work, makeup time should be given later on.
- If the parties’ orders are based on the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines when Distance is a Factor, some judges have said that parenting time should continue to take place. An instance where this would not be the case is if a parent in another state or city has been issued a stay in place order. If the child would need to be put on an airplane, the parents should consider the child’s exposure risks.
- In ALL cases where parenting time may be disrupted by this pandemic, liberal access to the child via FaceTime, Skype, or phone needs to be allowed. Makeup time should be given to any parent who misses time with their child due to these issues.
- Parents should consider the children’s exposure risks, as well as risks to others in their community, when considering traveling with children. If the purpose of travel is for vacation and it needs to be cancelled/postponed, it is better to be safe in these situations so as to help flatten the curve.
When A Child/Parent Is Immunocompromised/Has Other Risk Factors:
- The judges are hopeful that parents will work together towards the best interests of the children in these cases. Putting a child in harm’s way is not necessary, but parenting time should continue to take place as normal when at all possible.
- If one parent is immunocompromised, they will likely NOT be permitted to keep the child and deny time to the other parent because of their condition.
- If a travel restriction, or “stay in place” order is put into effect, parenting time should still be allowed, unless expressly stated in the order. The judges’ views are that if people are allowed to go to grocery stores, they are able to exchange their children.
- If parents are being affected by the closures, try to talk through these issues with the other parent and be understanding, and keep in mind that things will eventually get back to normal.
- If you are a parent unable to pay child support because of these situations, you will still need to file a Motion with the court, so that when things do get back to normal, the courts will have already been made aware of the situation, and people are protecting themselves from contempt citations.
If you are needing guidance during these difficult and confusing times, please contact Trapp Law today at 317-423-1823 for a free consultation.