A non-custodial parent generally has the right to reasonable visitation in Indiana. The court decides what constitutes “reasonable,” usually based on a set of specifications called the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. These regulations apply to most child custody cases. Instances where children may suffer physical, mental or emotional harm are the exception. Courts may also choose not to heed them, but only if they provide a good rationale for doing so (which they must write down).
While this may make visitation seem simple, the fact is it remains complex and situation-dependent. Because of this, there are some common inquiries parents may have about it.
1. What if the child refuses to visit the other parent?
As long as there exists no evidence that seeing the non-custodial parent hurts the child, said parent retains the right to visitation. While a court may consider offspring’s wishes once they reach 14 years of age, the final decision on custody remains in its hands. Children are not allowed to refuse to obey the order; only once they become adults at 18 are they legally able to choose. Custodial parents have an obligation to ensure the non-custodial parents receive their parenting time and may end up legally liable if they do not.
2. What if the custodial parent prevents the child from visiting?
If the other parent blocks the child from following the visitation order, the non-custodial parent may file a Verified Motion for Contempt with the court that assigned it. This essentially asks the court to enforce the agreement.
3. What if the children are in different age groups?
Since the Guidelines use age for determining visitation times and dates, children who do not fall into the same category may pose a difficulty. In such a situation, the court may simply assign the children the same schedule, or they may have them follow different ones.
In the end, visitation is a right. Avoiding violating it without a very good reason helps keep custodial parents out of legal conflict.