01 Apr Supreme Court Issues Guidance on Critical Family Law Matters
March 31, 2020
On March 31, 2020, the Indiana Supreme Court issued five orders adjusting normal court operations. Order 20S-MS-238 addresses how these emergency orders impact critical family law matters such as child support, child custody and parenting time.
Custody and Parenting Time Orders
The Indiana Supreme Court reiterated the Governor’s Executive Order deeming the transportation of children pursuant to a custody order as essential travel and directed that existing court orders for custody and parenting time remain in effect and indicating they should be followed regardless of the pandemic.
The Court further clarified that parents should follow the school calendar that was published at the beginning of the academic year when determining dates for parenting time, without allowing for changes due to school closures or remote learning days.
Also, the Court issued a directive allowing for parents to informally agree in writing to modify their current court orders, even if they are not able to file those agreements with the Court. This presumably paves the way for the later enforcement of these informal agreements, a change from normal procedures which only allow for the enforcement of Court approved agreements.
In the absence of an agreement, parties are directed to file an emergency motion with the court having jurisdiction over their case. To discuss how and when to file such an emergency motion and to discuss how a court might address the same given the current limitations on court hearings, please contact a member of the BKR Family Law Team.
The Court made it clear that existing child support orders are also to be followed and payments are to be made as scheduled. Recognizing the closure of many county child support offices, the Court directed payments to be made on-line, by phone, by mail, or at other locations designated at Http://www.in.gov/dcs/3504.htm.
Parents who are unable to pay all or part of their court ordered child support due to the pandemic are directed to file an emergency petition with the court having jurisdiction over their case. Despite the limitations on court activities at the current time, it remains prudent to file such a petition as soon as possible to allow the court to later modify the obligation retroactively to the date the job loss or other significant change occurred. Contact a member if the BKR Family Law Team to discuss options and the process of filing for and obtaining a child support modification.
Melissa J. Avery, Of Counsel
Immediate Past Chair, American Bar Association Family Law Section
Fellow-American and International Academy of Family Lawyers
Certified Family Law Specialist-Family Law Certification Board
Registered Domestic Relations Mediator
Broyles Kight & Ricafort, PC
8250 Haverstick Road, Suite 100, Indianapolis, IN 46240