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Court Seeking Public Opinion On Parental Guildeline For Divorced Hoosiers

Last updated on Friday, February 10, 2012

(INDIANAPOLIS) - Indiana’s Supreme Court is seeking the public’s opinion on possibly changing laws governing parental guidelines for divorced Hoosiers with children.

Many Hoosiers said the current laws are far from perfect because many of them decide how much time a child spends with each parent.

Divorce attorney Lanae Harden said the new proposed guidelines could provide some relief for parents and may put an end to the decision making.

"(Parent have to decide), whose weekend is it if I had two in a row? Do we switch? Who gets the birthday if it's Thanksgiving and I have Thanksgiving and it's his year to get the birthday?" Harden said.

Divorced parents have been dealing with those types of custody issues for years.

"I think, one, with these guidelines, disputes will be reduced; therefore, attorney fees will be reduced and parents can spend money on their children instead of litigating about children," Harden said.

One of the proposed changes concerns holidays. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Presidents Day would be addressed, as well as who gets custody on fall break.

Under the current laws, Christmas and New Year's are two separate holidays, but under the new proposals, the two holidays would be combined into one and split between each parent.

"I've had situations where people are calling on Christmas Eve and it's really upsetting for a parent not to know if they are going to get their parenting time on Christmas Eve if they've made plans," Harden said.

Currently, parents aren't allowed to have a child three weekends in a row, but the new proposal would change that to a Parallel Parenting plan.

"There is now a special provision relating to situations where parents cannot get along, they are litigating every year," Harden said. "In these situations, instead of calling your attorney or having them call their attorney and go back and forth, you go to this independent party that's neutral. You kind of mediate these disputes between the parties."

Harden said the new guidelines will only apply to new divorces, unless both parents who abide by the current rules agree to adopt the new rules.

Court officials said the new guidelines could go into effect as soon as July 1.

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