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A Lot of Things May Be Canceled Due to COVID-19, but Parenting Time Is Not

The current coronavirus pandemic has changed nearly every aspect of our lives in the last month. On March 6, 2020, Governor Holcomb declared a public health emergency in Indiana relating to the 2019 novel coronavirus. On March 23, 2020, Governor Holcomb took further measures and issued an Executive Order requiring Indiana residents to remain in their homes except when they are at work or for permitted activities, such as taking care of others, obtaining necessary supplies, and for health and safety. Understandably, this order left some with confusion on how to go about their daily lives, especially parents who share joint custody of their children. In response, the Indiana Supreme Court issued an Order on March 31, 2020, to serve as guidance for those parents wondering what this stay-at-home order means for their parenting time.

The Order issued by the Indiana Supreme Court keeps things simple for parents by stating that parenting time orders will remain in place and parents should continue to follow them as they normally would. The Order further states that the parenting time order that was established at the start of the academic year from each child’s school remains in place. However, the Court does leave the option for parents to modify their existing order if they feel the need to. Parents are welcome to informally agree in writing to temporarily modify their existing order and do not need to file this with the court. The option to temporarily modify the existing order also applies to those parenting time orders that state a modification is prohibited. Additionally, if parents wish to temporarily modify their existing order but cannot come to an informal agreement, any party may file an emergency petition with the court to modify the existing order.

The Order issued by the Indiana Supreme Court also addresses child support payments. The Order recognizes that many county child support offices are closed or are not accepting payments in person. However, the Order states that existing court orders for child support payments continues to remain in place. The Order states that child support payments can be made online, by telephone, by mail, and at other locations, as described on the Indiana Department of Child Services, Child Support Bureau website. If parents ordered to make child support payments are currently unable to make the full payment as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, those parents pay file an emergency petition to modify child support with the court.

The Court encourages any party who wishes to file an agreement, petition or motion with the court to file such documents electronically in order to be reviewed by the judge in a timely manner. As usual, if a party is represented by an attorney then any filings should be made by the party’s attorney.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your parenting time order during the current coronavirus pandemic, the experienced family law attorneys at Massillamany Jeter & Carson are here to help.

Please give us a call at (317) 434-1490 or contact us online to request your free case consultation.