Indiana Divorce Guide

Parenting Plans

In all petitions to end a marriage where Parenting plansthere children of the marriage, the parties are expected to complete and submit a plan that must include a parenting schedule, how major decisions will be made and by whom on the more important issues in the child’s life (health, education, religious and social issues. The plan must put first the best interests of the child. If the parties cannot agree on the details of a plan, the court may order you to mediation (see tab above). Should that exercise fail, the court will impose its own plan. The court will examine:

  • the physical, emotional, mental, religious, and social needs of the child
  • the capability and desire of each parent to meet these needs
  • the child’s preference if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to form a preference
  • the love and affection existing between the child and each parent
  • the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity
  • the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child, except that the court may not consider this willingness and ability if one parent shows that the other parent has sexually assaulted or engaged in domestic violence against the parent or a child, and that a continuing relationship with the other parent will endanger the health or safety of either the parent or the child
  • any evidence of domestic violence, child abuse, or child neglect in the proposed custodial household or a history of violence between the parents
  • evidence that substance abuse by either parent or other members of the household directly affects the emotional or physical well-being of the child
  • other factors that the court considers pertinent

If you and your Ex are unable to agree, the case becomes contested, and the divorce careens like an out of control car toward a trial.

If there is a chance your Ex will try to manipulate you or the kids with the visitation schedule, put an on-line Parenting Plan in place. Nothing stops the game-playing like a schedule in black and white. Simply tell your Ex that in order for the schedule to be changed, it must be discussed and agreed to; otherwise it is not changing.
Essential elements of a parenting plan
  1. Parenting time (physical custody)
  2. Decision making (legal custody)
  3. Child support (contained in the divorce agreement – subject to modification)
  4. School breaks and annual vacations (divided between the parents/odd and even years)
  5. Mediation and arbitration (how disputes will be resolved, mediators/arbitrators)
  6. Visitation and Overnights schedules (most keep them flexible and part of an online parenting plan)
  7. Transportation and exchanges, which deals with the movement of a child from his or her custodial parent to the non-custodial parent
  8. Physical and mental health care (who pays, when, how much, medical and dental plans)

Parenting classes mandatory in some counties –  In cases of divorce, separation and annulment, parties with minor children must complete a parenting class and present a certificate of completion to the court within 30 days of the filing. The parties are given an initial opportunity to agree on a plan, but if they fail to agree, the court will impose the minimum parenting plan. Parents who are unable to agree to a plan risk having plan specifics be decided by a court that is understandably less aware of what arrangements provide the greatest benefit to their children and themselves.

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