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I have received numerous questions and complaints regarding issues of parenting time and child support. Generally, the concerns center around 1) denial of parenting time; and 2) inability to pay support due to reduction in hours or loss of employment.
The following is quoted from the Indiana Supreme Court in an order issued March 31, 2020.
"On March 6, 2020, Governor Eric J. Holcomb declared a public health emergency in
Indiana relating to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19), and on March 23, 2020, issued Executive Order 20-08. Paragraphs 16(b) and (e) of that Order define transporting children pursuant to a custody order or agreement, and to care for minors and dependents, as essential travel.
Being duly advised, the Court now ORDERS as follows:
Custody and Parenting Time Orders. Existing court orders regarding custody and
parenting time shall remain in place during the COVID-19 pandemic and shall be followed. For purposes of interpreting custody and parenting time orders, the school calendar as published at the start of the academic year from each child’s school shall control. Custody and parenting time shall not be affected by the school’s closure during the COVID-19 pandemic. If both parents and any other parties to their court case (“the parties”) believe there is a reason to temporarily modify or change the terms of a custody or parenting time court order during the COVID-19 pandemic and modification is not prohibited by the terms of their existing order, they may informally agree in writing to temporarily modify their existing order. This temporary agreement may be filed with the court, but filing is not necessary so long as the agreement is kept by the parties. If the parties cannot reach a temporary agreement or do not remain in agreement, any party may file an emergency petition to modify the existing order.
Child Support. Many county child support offices are closed or are not accepting
payments in person. Existing court orders for child support payments remain in place and shall be followed. 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: https://www.in.gov/dcs/3504.htm. Parents who are unable to make their full or any child support payments as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic may file an emergency petition to modify child support with the court.
Agreements, petitions, or motions should be filed electronically, as documents sent by
U.S. Mail or fax may not be reviewed by the judge as promptly. Filings with the court for a party represented by an attorney shall be made by the attorney. Parties should be flexible and cooperate for the best interests and health of the children during this time. "
So, the short legal answers are:
1. Parenting time orders and visitation are to continue uninterrupted unless you file for, and the Court approves, modification.
2. Child support orders are to continue uninterrupted unless you file for, and the Court approves, modification.
But, the short practical answer is this: You are coparents - act like it. This pandemic is deadly. This pandemic is temporary. By the time you see the inside of a courtroom, the pandemic will be over. Judges will have dockets with no space for petty squables. The health and safety of your child(ren) should be paramount. Coparent peacefully. Facilitate alternatives to in-person parenting time such as Facetime and Zoom. Be understanding to the financials struggles of a parent who has lost hours or employment.