OREGON LAW REQUIRES THAT A PARENTING TIME PLAN BE INCLUDED WITH EVERY JUDGMENT.
Whenever a custody determination is made, parenting time must also be addressed. Additionally, parenting time can be modified after a judgment is entered. It is generally easier to modify parenting time than custody, because you are not required to show a significant change in circumstances, but only that a change is in the child’s best interests. You and the other parent can also stipulate, or agree, to a change in parenting time.
Oregon law requires that a parenting time plan be included with every judgment that establishes custody, whether it is a judgment of dissolution of marriage or a judgment to establish custody between unmarried parents. Some parenting time plans are very detailed and specify exactly which days are to be spent with each parent, as well as the time and place children are picked up and dropped off. Other plans simply state that parenting time will be “per the agreement of the parties,” which means the parents will decide the details between them, as they see fit.
Parenting time per the agreement of the parties can work well if the parents are on reasonably good terms and can work together on a flexible schedule. When there is persistent conflict and disagreement between the parents, a set schedule usually works better. Of course, even when a detailed parenting time plan is included in the judgment, the parents can still agree to vary it. And even parents who get along well may find it prudent to include a detailed parenting time plan to fall back on, should things change in the future.
The parenting time plan is taken into account in calculating the amount of child support one parent pays to the other. Part of the support calculation is a “parenting time credit,” and the amount of support ordered is based in part on how much time the child spends in the care of the parent who is paying the support.
It is generally believed that a parenting plan designed by and agreed to between the parents will have the greatest chance of success, and there is help available to make this possible. The Oregon Department of Justice provides suggested parenting time plans based on the child’s age and how far apart the parents live. While you’re not required to follow any of these plans, you can use them as a resource to help you design a plan that will work well for your family.
You may also request a parenting time evaluation, in which a professional evaluator considers the facts of your case and makes recommendations to the court on how parenting time should be divided. If there are safety concerns, a noncustodial parent may be permitted only parenting time that is supervised by a professional supervisor. And finally, you may enlist the services of a parenting time coordinator if you believe you will need ongoing support to maintain a parenting time schedule.