Indianapolis, Indiana Law Firm of Hocker & Associates
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Executive Order 20-08 and what it means for your parenting time

Our attorneys explain how the shelter in place order may impact you

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb just signed Executive Order 20-08, often referenced as a “shelter-in-place order.” In anticipation of this order, a panel of central Indiana family court judges held a question and answer session providing attorneys with guidance, suggestions, and probable outcomes for issues this order may cause.

Frequently asked questions about Executive Order 20-08 include:

  • “If we shelter in place, where should children go?”
  • “Are parenting time exchanges allowed under the order?”
  • “My co-parent is denying my parenting time. What now?”
  • “Do e-learning days count as vacation days?”
  • “I am working from home. Can I get more parenting time?”

We recommend you speak with an experienced family law attorney to determine what is appropriate for your family during these difficult times. Every situation is different.

Most legal offices are operating from remote locations. Our office is fully functioning and offering free 15-minute phone consultations. If legal action is necessary, we can prepare documents, obtain signatures, and file documents with the court electronically.

In the meantime, some key general points from the central Indiana family court judges (without considering the specifics of your case) are:

  1. Judges interpreted an executive order allowing travel for food and supplies or “to care for…minors…” as also allowing parenting time exchanges. Travel for these reasons are permitted under Indiana’s Executive Order 20-08.
  2. Do not use this situation to justify increasing your parenting time without consent of the other parent. Judges will not permit parties to use this situation for personal benefit. Anyone doing so could face legal consequences. A parent inciting legal action for behaviors a judge does not deem justified will likely be ordered to pay the other parent’s attorney fees.
  3. Absent an agreement to modify parenting time, judges encourage parents to follow their last agreement or court order as closely as possible to avoid conflict and legal contempt.
  4. It is not appropriate to withhold your children from the other parent for a generalized fear of transmission – even if the other parent works in a high-risk field – unless the other parent or a household member is exhibiting symptoms consistent with the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
  5. Withholding your children or voluntarily foregoing parenting time to keep your children safe will likely result in an order for make-up time if the issue is raised in court.

None of these general points considers the specific details of your case and will not fit everyone’s unique situation. This is general guidance summarized from a panel of several central Indiana judges. This guidance should not be interpreted as legal advice. To consult with our office about your specific situation, please email us right away.