For many decades, when a couple divorced in Indiana, the court generally sided with the mother when it came to custody matters. However, a lot has changed with how the court and the law deal with child custody. To begin with, the Indiana Supreme Court explains that the state no longer uses the terms “custody” or “visitation”; instead using the term “parenting time” to reflect the idea that the law believes a child needs continual contact with both parents and that neither parent should take priority.
Of course, the state makes exceptions when there is an issue with parental kidnapping, drug or alcohol addiction, abuse or any other situation that would make one parent dangerous for the child to be around. In general, though, the courts look at custody matters with everything being equal between the parents. This means that you will not have an advantage just because you are the mother or a disadvantage because you are the father. The court sees two parents with whom the child deserves to have regular contact.
Sometimes, you cannot share equal parenting time. The court understands this. It does want you to attempt to be as equal as possible, with the goal being that your children have a chance to spend quality time with each of you.
Changing across the U.S.
The move to a shared model of parenting time is happening nationwide. While mothers may have had an advantage in the past, that is no longer the case. Children do better when they have both parents in their lives in a meaningful way.
Some examples of the guidelines for parenting time include:
- The court always makes decisions in the child’s best interests.
- Both parents have a right and responsibility to parenting time.
- The noncustodial parent has the right to the children over anyone else if the custodial parent needs someone to take care of them.
- Parents must provide consistent parenting time.
These guidelines are a small sample of court expectations when it comes to parenting time. The overall goal is that the state and the courts want both parents to have active involvement in a child’s life.