We get a lot of questions about restricting parenting time, or having parenting time supervised. Supervised parenting time cases are very difficult on the parties, professionals, judges and, most importantly, the children involved. Most of the time it is not appropriate to have parenting time supervised; however, in some circumstances it is necessary. Restriction or denial of parenting time is governed by Indiana Code Section 31-17-4-2, which provides as follows: The court may modify an order granting or denying parenting time rights whenever modification would serve the best interests of the child. However, the court shall not restrict a parent’s parenting time rights unless the court finds that the parenting time might endanger the child’s physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development. In a case published today the Court of Appeals explains how this standard is applied: Although a court may modify a parenting time order when the modification would serve the best interests of the child or children, a parent’s visitation rights shall not be restricted unless the court finds that the parenting time might endanger the child’s physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development. Even though the statute uses the word “might," this Court has previously interpreted the language to mean that a court may not restrict parenting time unless that parenting time “would" endanger the child’s physical health or emotional development. A party who seeks to restrict a parent’s visitation rights bears the burden of presenting evidence justifying such a restriction. In most cases, barring emergency, eliminating or restricting parenting time on a continuing basis is a last resort. Typically, these cases are going be the ones where mental health evaluators, parenting coordinators and guardian ad litems have been employed, and counseling has been implemented.
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