All Things Family Law

Discussion of all things related to family law from an Indiana divorce attorney.

This blog provides general family law and divorce law information. If you have a specific issue or case you need assistance with please contact me directly. 

Filtering by Category: parenting time

New Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines 2012 - Equal Parenting Time and Parenting Coordination Provisions

This post is an update of previous posts (here and here and here) which have followed the Domestic Relations Committee as it reviews and revises the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines.  Since the last post the Domestic Relations Committee has published summaries of their meetings occurring in February, March, May and July of 2011.  If this topic is of interest to you, I encourage you to read the minutes yourself. There are two items in these minutes that seem important to address in this post.

First, there appears to be a consideration to presume more parenting time for noncustodial parents, and a provision regarding equal parenting time.  The minutes do not reveal the details of how the presumption of minimum parenting time would change, or whether the Guidelines will discuss situations where equal parenting time might be presumed, but if these topics are handled in the revised guidelines it would be a major change.  This was a hotly argued concern at the public hearing regarding the revisions. I get more comments on my blog regarding the these two issues than any other topic.

Secondly, the minutes reflect that parenting coordination is a concept that will be addressed in the revised guidelines.   The committee agreed to draft three rules related to parenting coordination as follows: (1) adopt the parenting time guidelines including provisions about parenting coordination, (2) give parenting  coordinators immunity, and (3) require parenting coordinators to meet educational requirements and pay a registration fee.  Also, it is worth noting that while the May minutes reflect that the committee supported not allowing a judge to order a parenting coordinator over objection of the parents, the July minutes reflect that the parenting coordination rules will allow a court to order parenting coordination over a parties’ objection.   This position is consistent with a recent Court of Appeals case.   This is an important issue because disagreement between the parties  is one of the main reasons a parenting coordinator is necessary. 

At What Age Can I Leave My Child Home Alone? - Indiana Juvenile and Custody Law

What is the minimum age to leave a child home alone?  

Most states do not have a minimum age.  However, in states that do have a minimum age it ranges from 8 to 14.  In Indiana, there is no minimum age, rather the answer is "it depends".  According to the Indiana Department of Child Services brochure appropriately titled "Home Alone", "[t}here is no right answer for every child. There is no magic age when a child suddenly becomes responsible and mature. But there are ways to evaluate your child’s capabilities in order to make a more informed decision."

The brochure includes some interesting statistics:

  • Nearly 4.5 million children ages 14 and under are injured in the home every year.
  • The vast majority of unintentional injury-related deaths among children occurs in the evening hours when children are most likely to be out of school and unsupervised.
  • Children are most likely to be victims of violent crimes by non-family members between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
  • Violent juvenile crimes triple between the hours of 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m

Lastly, the brochure offers a "self-test" of questions and issues for parents to consider.   The questions include:

  1. Is your child mature enough to be home alone? 
  2. Can your child handle fear, loneliness, and boredom? 
  3. Is there a responsible adult nearby—a relative or a neighbor—who your child can call for assistance?
  4. Does your child know emergency procedures? 
  5. Have you reviewed fire escape routes? 
  6. Is there a first aid kit available, and does your child know how to use it? 
  7. Does your child perform everyday tasks such as fixing a snack, dialing the phone, and writing messages?
  8. Does your child regularly solve small problems without assistance, knowing when it’s okay to ask for help?  
  9. Does your child manage conflicts with/among siblings without adult help? 
  10. Is your child comfortable with the idea of staying alone? 

If this topic is important to you I encourage you to review the entire brochure. Also, there is a website with resources for "latch key kids" here.

Parenting Coordination, Model Rules, Part 1 - Indiana Custody Law

We've written about parenting time coordinators, or parenting coordination before.  Parenting coordination is evolving in Indiana.  The New Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines will likely include references to parenting coordination.   Just this past year a Court of Appeals case held that a parenting time coordinator may my be ordered upon parents, even where one of the parents objects.  The Domestic Relations Committee and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee of the Judicial Conference of Indiana have released Model Rules and a Model Order for parenting coordination.  They are accepting comments until May 26, 2011.

The proposed rules define parenting coordinator as: "an impartial third party qualified under these rules, who is appointed by the court to assist parties in resolving issues and recommending solutions to disputed issues relating to parenting in any action for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, paternity, or guardianship where a minor child is involved."

The proposed rules provides that following persons may qualify as a parenting coordinator:

  • The Parenting Coordinator shall at all times be a registered Indiana domestic relations mediator.
  • The Parenting Coordinator shall be a licensed mental health provider as defined at Ind. Code § 31-33-25-4, with a minimum of a master’s degree in a mental health or related field, or an attorney licensed to practice law in Indiana with substantial family law practice experience.  
  • The Parenting Coordinator shall have at least five years experience in their profession with high conflict or litigating parents.  
  • The Parenting Coordinator shall have training in the parenting coordination process, family dynamics in separation and divorce, parenting coordination techniques, domestic violence and child maltreatment.  The training shall consist of a minimum of twenty hours of Indiana Supreme Court Commission for Continuing Legal Education approved parenting coordinator training, to include at least five hours of domestic violence training. 
  • A Parenting Coordinator shall maintain professional competence in the parenting coordination process.  A Parenting Coordinator may participate in peer consultation or mentoring to receive feedback and support on cases.  

The model rules address other aspects regarding how a parenting coordinator must practice.  We will summarize those in future posts. 

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