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Factors to consider when drafting a parenting plan in Indiana

On Behalf of | Mar 20, 2024 | Child Custody

If you and your spouse are separating, you may not necessarily be on the best of terms. As a result, you may find yourself feuding over many issues relating to the divorce, including property division and child custody.

However, when it comes to making decisions about the care of your child, it is important to put personal feelings aside and come up with a parenting plan that is in your child’s best interest. In most cases, that means that both you and your spouse should be actively involved in your child’s upbringing.

Creating a parenting plan or a parenting time schedule

As you and your ex begin to create your parenting plan, also called a parenting time schedule, there are several factors you should consider relating to the child, the parent, the relationship between the child and each parent, the co-parenting relationship, and the environments at issue. While each family is different, the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines provide some considerations when thinking about what parenting plan might work for your family:

Factors Related to the Child:

–         The age, temperament, and maturity level of the child

–         The child’s current routine

–         The child’s response to separations and transitions

–         Any particular physical, emotional, educational, or other needs resulting from the developmental stage or characteristics of the child

Factors Related to the Parent:

–         The temperament of each parent

–         The “fit” of each parent’s temperament with the child’s temperament

–         Each parent’s mental health, including mental illness and substance use or abuse

–         Each parent’s sensitivity to the child’s early developmental needs

–         Each parent’s capacity and willingness to be flexible as the child’s needs change from day to day and over time

Factors Related to the Parent-Child Relationship

–         Each parent’s warmth and availability to the child

–         Each parent’s ability to correctly discern and respond sensitively to the child’s needs

–         Each parent’s past experience living with the child and caregiving history

–         Each parent’s caregiving interest and motivation

–         Each parent’s history of perpetrating child physical or emotional abuse or neglect

Factors Related to the Co-Parenting Relationship:

–         The parents’ capacity and willingness to be flexible with each other as the child’s needs get expressed in the moment and change over time

–         The level and nature of conflict and/or domestic violence, including the history, recentness, intensity, frequency, content, and context (separation specific or broader)

–         The parents’ ability to compartmentalize any conflicts and protect the child from exposure to parental conflict

–         The parents’ ability to communicate appropriately and in a timely manner about the child

–         The degree to which each parent facilitates contact and communication between the other parent and the child versus “gatekeeping” behavior intended to keep the other parent and the child apart

–         The parents’ capacity for cooperation about the child’s developmental needs

Environmental Factors:

–         The proximity of the parental homes

–         The parents’ work schedules and circumstances

–         The presence of extended family members or close friends that participate in caregiving

–         The availability of additional child care if needed and economic resources available to pay for it

–         The mechanics in place to transfer the child from one household to the other

If you and your former partner can agree on a parenting plan, it should be reduced to writing, signed, and filed with the Court. Once the Court approves the agreement, it will become legally binding. If you and your co-parent cannot agree on a parenting plan, the Court will use legal guidelines to develop a parenting plan on your behalf.