Effective January 1, 2022, a revision of the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines (“IPTG”) went into effect. Of note, the IPTG have been revised to include work obligations in Section I, (C), (2) “Adjustments to Schedule / ‘Make-Up’ Time.” However, a careful reading of the revisions would suggest that this is not an open invitation for parents to use work obligations to ask for make-up parenting time.
To begin, the first paragraph of the section suggests that parents should “adjust” the parenting time schedule when events “outside the normal family routine or the control of the parent requiring the adjustment” arise. The two examples added to the paragraph are “military drill obligations or annual work obligations.” This suggests, for example, that parents trade weekends if a parent will be gone for a military drill. Or if a parent has a once per year, out-of-town conference he or she must attend as part of his or her employment. These events do not occur frequently and regularly, and therefore parenting time should be adjusted to accommodate these schedule interruptions.
This additional language, however, is further clarified to add that make-up time “may not be used routinely due to a parent’s failure to plan in advance, absent a true emergency.” What does this mean? For example, what if a parent has an order for parenting time on alternating weekends, but has a job working every Saturday and Sunday? The IPTG does not require a constant rescheduling of parenting time. Rather, the parent who is working during what is supposed to be his or her parenting time needs to modify the parenting time schedule to be able to spend time with the child. Continuing to ask for make-up time throws a wrench into the child’s schedule, as well as that of both households. Failing to create a parenting plan that works around both parents’ work schedules is a plan to fail.
The Commentary in this section further drives home the point that if a parent voluntarily decides to spend time away from the child on his or her parenting time, such as taking a girl’s trip or a couples-only vacation, then no make-up time is warranted, unless agreed by both parents. Rather, the parent who will not be able to include the child in his or her plans must offer the opportunity for additional parenting time to the other parent.
Further, the revisions set limits on how much make-up time can be scheduled when parents have an equal or shared parenting schedule. The parent needing make-up time cannot exercise “more than 3 additional days of make-up time in a row in conjunction with regularly scheduled parenting time, for a total of 10 consecutive days of parenting time.”
Finally, new language was added in the standard IPTG language to indicate that “make-up time is not an opportunity to deny the other parent of scheduled holidays or special days . . . and should not interfere with previously scheduled activities.” The language is echoed later in the section, that make-up time “should be exercised outside of those holidays and special days . . . when possible.”
So what does all this mean for parents? It means that when drafting your agreements or going to Court, be honest about what regular obligations you may have for work or military service, and structure your parenting plan accordingly. Adjust parenting time to swap weekends as soon as you have the dates for your occasional and out-of-the-ordinary work obligations. If parenting time is missed and make-up time is warranted, don’t just select dates that only work for you, but talk to your co-parent to coordinate schedules.
If adjusting parenting time or rescheduling make-up time with your co-parent is a constant battleground, contact the attorneys of Wanzer Edwards, PC.