High court rules parenting time can't be bargained away in divorce

2013-06-25T18:00:00Z 2013-06-25T23:20:05Z High court rules parenting time can't be bargained away in divorceDan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
June 25, 2013 6:00 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | The Indiana Supreme Court deployed unusually forceful language in announcing Tuesday it will not permit divorcing parents to give up parenting time in exchange for eliminating child support payments.

In a 5-0 decision, the state's high court struck down a 2006 Jackson County dissolution decree requiring a father give up parenting time with his child after a divorce in exchange for the mother's assuming sole financial responsibility for the child.

The father's attempts to change that arrangement and see his child were repeatedly rejected by the court in Jackson County, which is southeast of Bloomington.

Writing for the Supreme Court, Justice Steven David called the agreement "repugnant" and told attorneys they should "refuse to be a part of such discussion" and ought to advise their clients "any such discussion is unacceptable."

"It is incomprehensible to this court to imagine that either parent would ever stipulate to give up parenting time in lieu of not paying child support," David wrote. "Such agreements between parents are void as a matter of public policy and our trial courts should be very careful not to allow the results which occurred in this case."

The high court said parenting time and child support are separate issues and must not be commingled.

Both ought to be determined by what's in the best interest of the child, and only in rare cases involving the physical or emotional health of the child will that include depriving a father or mother of parenting time, the justices said.

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