As a non-custodial parent in Indiana, your parenting time with your child is always a high priority.
That being said, sometimes life events come along that can inevitably affect your parenting time in significant ways. Relocation is one such event that can necessitate a change to your parenting time structure.
For example, a lucrative and exciting job offer may come along that would require you moving to another state, but you might be hesitant to accept that offer because of your concern for how such a move would affect your parenting time.
Indiana child custody laws and the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines provide guidance on how to handle such a situation.
Indiana Code 31-17-2.2-1 requires a parent to file Notice with the court regarding any proposed relocation. Upon filing Notice with the Court and submitting the same to your ex, a new parenting time arrangement will likely need to be determined.
Modification of your parenting time order will need to account for the best parenting time arrangement for the amount of distance to be traversed to exercise that parenting time.
The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines includes a proposed parenting time schedule for “Parenting Time When Distance is a Major Factor.” The amount and structure of parenting time varies depending on the age of your child under the guidelines.
For young children, the guidelines propose exercising parenting time twice per week for five-hour periods every week in the community of the custodial parent.
Keep in mind that the newly revised guidelines encourage the proposed parenting time schedules to be treated as a minimum schedule and not necessarily the “default” schedule. So if you have consistently spent liberal time with your young child, then it is appropriate to request more parenting time than the minimum amount outlined.
For children 3-4 years of age, the guidelines suggest up to six one-week segments of parenting time per year, with each segment separated by at least six weeks.
Such a parenting time schedule is usually proposed to ensure that a small child is not away from his or her primary residence for extended periods of time, to prevent confusion for the child. Again, however, if you have historically spent liberal parenting time with your child, then it may be proper to ask for a more extensive parenting time schedule.
For children over the age of 5, the non-custodial parent’s parenting time schedule depends on the child’s school schedule. Generally, the non-custodial parent will have liberal parenting time during all school breaks.
For a traditional school calendar, this means seven weeks in the summer, Spring Break, and seven days during Winter Break. For a year-round or “balanced” school schedule, the parenting time schedule should be enough to provide the parent with at least the same amount of parenting time he or she would receive under the traditional school calendar.
The court may find it reasonable to grant additional parenting time above the guidelines-proposed schedule if the distance to be traveled is less than a few hours.
A judge may order parenting time one weekend per month on top of the “Distance as a Major Factor” schedule or over long weekends, etc., if appropriate. The non-custodial parent would also be entitled to liberal parenting time whenever he or she is in the area where the child resides, or if the child is in the non-custodial parent’s area at any time as well.
Courts generally expect the parents to work together to facilitate as much parenting time as is feasible for the non-custodial parent.
One additional factor that would need to be discussed is the cost of transportation for parenting time when distance is an issue. Splitting costs is determined on a case-by-case basis by the court, but these are a few examples of considerations the court makes when issuing an order on this point.
The court will look to multiple factors, including the income shares of each party, whether it would be financially burdensome for one party to contribute significantly to the costs, and the basis for the decision to relocate.
If you are considering relocating, it is prudent to consult with an Indiana family law attorney to discuss your options.
Relocation will lead to necessary changes to your parenting time schedule, but if the relocation is being pursued to better your life and the life of your family, then you have solutions to continue a meaningful relationship with your child.
Read related article: “Relocation of Custodial Parent in Indiana“