Whether it’s when you are starting a divorce or custody case, during mediation, or finalizing the case with a general judgment, if you have kids then you will need to think about the parenting time plan. If this is your first custody and parenting time case, you may be wondering what sort of provisions you should include in your parenting time plan for the nonresidential parent (the parent who receives parenting time under a parenting time plan). What’s standard? What’s reasonable? The courts have some templates for basic situations and those involving long distance and safety. Also, some counties have “model” plans that address some common issues.
Oregon Judicial Department Templates
A good place to start would be with the Oregon Judicial Department’s parenting time plan templates. The basic parenting time plan form includes a master form with check boxes and simple choices. Offers opportunities throughout to customize the provisions. Can be filled in on-line, saved, changed, emailed and printed. Also the blank form may be printed and filled in by hand. Additionally, the Oregon Judicial Department has parenting time plan templates for each age group, (ages and stages), these schedules provide developmental information, and guidance for writing an age-appropriate parenting time schedule. Offers at least one suggestion (sometimes more) for three different levels of parental involvement. And lastly, there are medium and long distance parenting time plans that are specially designed for use when parents live more than 60 miles away from each other. A master form with check boxes and simple choices. Offers opportunities throughout to customize provisions. Can be filled in on-line, saved, changed, emailed and printed. Also the blank form may be printed and filled in by hand.
Your County’s Local Model Parenting Time Plan
Each county has what are called “supplemental local rules” that specifically apply to that county. These county specific rules include the format of your pleadings, procedural issues, and sometimes includes a model parenting time plan that the county adopts as a “default” plan. The plans are guidelines that the court uses in that county. Usually the model plan was created by different professionals such as attorneys, and judges. The local model rule is a good resource because you can see how the court in your county may “default” when it comes to parenting time issues.
I would say that not all local model rules are built the same. Some are much more thought-out and comprehensive and so you may not want to rely on that model parenting time plan alone when thinking about what provisions you’d like to see in your plan.
Once the case has begun, the parties go to mediation and with the help of a mediator can put together a parenting time plan. Mediators are neutral third-parties that try to facilitate agreements between the parents. Mediators usually have a background in conflict resolution, family and child social services, and law. Because of this, many have a juris doctorate, are licensed attorneys, or clinical social workers. When the parties have exhausted their mediation hours or have hit a standstill, a judge can decide the outstanding issues.
Another alternative option is for the parents to have a custody evaluation done. The custody evaluator is a neutral third-party and investigates the parents and can also talk to the children, evaluate documents, speak to witnesses, and take into consideration information that would otherwise be inadmissible in court. This is one of the more expensive options as a custody study will run thousands of dollars but still could be less expensive than litigating the matter in court, although sometimes courtroom litigation happens anyways after a custody evaluation because one or both of the parents do not agree with the evaluator’s conclusions.
And lastly, the parenting time plan could be decided in court by the judge after hearing all the evidence from both parents about their relative positions on custody and parenting time. It is possible that some of the options above may result in some of the provisions and issues being agreed upon and all that’s left for the judge is to decide the outstanding issues. Going to court on the outstanding issues could be a risk versus accepting a known agreement from the other parent. But that could be a risk worth taking.
Should you Talk with an Attorney?
Parenting time plans can be complicated and have many provisions to take into consideration. As you can see, drafting and negotiating a parenting time plan takes careful and thoughtful consideration. Doing the process correctly is crucial to achieving your desired results without wasting time and money. It’s important you talk with an attorney to help guide you through the process and explain the advantages and disadvantages of the options described above. We can also help you create a comprehensive parenting time plan that you can use in your case taking into consideration all the complexities and unique circumstances of your case. Contact us at Navigate Legal Services today by calling (503) 300-1990.
Discuss your case with an Oregon attorney today. Contact us at Navigate Legal Services today by calling (503) 300-1990.