In a recent case in the Indiana Court of Appeals, Manis v. McNabb, 18A-GU-96, sent down on June 11, 2018, the Court of Appeals said that regardless of whether or not a statute specifically states that trial courts are allowed to issue orders on parenting time in a guardianship proceeding, the court has “authority to determine and order parenting time for a parent whose child is placed with a guardian.”
The Court of Appeals asked the Trial Court to take another look at the case in Manis v. McNabb. The Court of Appeals said the trial court erred by not considering a parent’s request for parenting time and determining whether and how much is appropriate, as well as by deferring to the Guardian’s judgment on parenting time. The Court of Appeals explained that the Fourteenth Amendment provides a constitutional right of parents to establish a home and raise their children. Further, one of the most valued relationships in society is that of a parent and child.
The Supreme Court of Indiana has found that it is the right of parents to have visitation with their children, and this right should be enjoyed by noncustodial parents. Perkinson v. Perkinson, 989 N.E.2d 758, 762 (Ind. 2013). Therefore, a noncustodial parent is entitled to reasonable visitation. Indiana law also says that there should not be restrictions on a parent’s visitation unless it “might endanger the child’s physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development.” IC 31-17-4-2. So, without evidence that visitation would endanger the child, a noncustodial parent should not be restricted from having visitation.
It is clear in the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines that it is usually in the best interest of the child to have “frequent, meaningful and continuing contact with each parent.” Ind. Parenting Time Guideline § I(E)(5). So, just because there is not a statute “explicitly addressing parenting time for a parent whose child has been placed with a guardian, parenting time for such a parent is indisputably within the realm of what our General Assembly envisioned when considering the rights of a parent and the best interests of the child.” Manis, at ¶23.
If a child is placed with a Guardian because it is in the best interest of the child, unless the child would be endangered, the Court of Appeals says the Guardianship court has the authority to order visitation and determine whether it is appropriate and order reasonable visitation.