High Conflict Child Custody in Indiana Now Resolved Through Parallel Parenting

Indiana’s new parenting time guidelines place a high priority on communication, cooperation and civility between parents, for the sake of the child. boyandawindow.jpg

However, our Munster child custody lawyers know that this kind of relationship isn’t always possible. Even if one parent strives to meet this standard, it really takes both people to ensure success.

Unfortunately, some people are burdened with toxic anger and bitterness, or they simply can’t let go. It ends up spilling into their relationship with their co-parent, or sometimes the co-parent is the direct aim. Sadly, the people this ends up hurting the most are the children.

It’s that kind of long-term psychological damage that the high court is hoping to avoid with its new parallel parenting plan, tailored specifically for parents it deems to be “high conflict.”

There aren’t hard-and-fast rules when it comes to the definition, but generally speaking, the court will label two parents as high conflict when:

  • They argue constantly in front of the children;
  • They often lay blame for their problems with the other parent;
  • They make negative comments about one another to the children.
  • There is a high level of mistrust and anger between parents;
  • They can’t communicate or cooperate with one another about the child;
  • There is a pattern of ongoing litigation.

The courts approach these cases with the understanding that to let these situations drag on is going to cause the children to potentially develop emotional and behavioral problems. Many of these kids live in fear, they have low self-esteem and they come to believe they are somehow to blame.

In cases where one parent is the primary aggressor in this, the court specifically notes that such behavior “should not be rewarded by limiting the parenting time of the other parent.”

The court recognizes that in most cases, a joint custody arrangement is preferable. But it’s not realistic in parallel parenting cases. In most of these cases, we’ll be dealing with a sole legal custody arrangement.

The main idea of parallel parenting is that each parent has a responsibility to provide for both the physical and emotional needs of the children and both are important to the child. Each parent must respect the other’s important role in their child’s life, even if they don’t necessarily respect the parent personally. The needs of the child have to come first.

So the arrangement is that while one parent is “on-duty,” the other parent is “off-duty.” Whoever is on-duty is solely responsible for care and control of the child during that time. This limits the amount of contact the two will have with one another, except in cases of emergencies. The court specifically prohibits one parent from denying the other his or her time with the child due to:

  • A minor illness;
  • The child’s hesitation or refusal;
  • The child has somewhere else to be;
  • The child isn’t home;
  • The noncustodial parent’s lack of support payments;
  • The custodial parent not wanting the child to go;
  • Bad weather;
  • Lack of clothing to wear;
  • The other parent failing on other preconditions.

Parallel parenting agreements must be reviewed by the court every 180 days.

Indiana Family Law Attorney Burton A. Padove handles divorce and child custody matters throughout northern Indiana, including Gary, Hammond and Calumet City. Call Toll Free 877-446-5294.

Additional Resources:
Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines, Indiana Rules of the Court, Amended March 1, 2013, Indiana Supreme Court
More Blog Entries:
Indiana Child Custody Lawyers Talk New State Parenting Time Guidelines, March 5, 2013, Munster Child Custody Attorney Blog
Indiana Supreme Court to Consider Revamping Child Custody Rules, October 2, 2013, Munster Child Custody Lawyer Blog