In Oregon, all judgments concerning child custody (except those contained in a FAPA restraining order) must contain a “parenting plan” that sets out how the parents will share time with the child(ren). These plans can either be general or specific.
A general plan provides an outline of how responsibilities and parenting time will be shared between the parents, and allows the parents to develop more specific details on a more informal basis. Therefore, general parenting plans are only appropriate for parents who can be reasonable and work together. The only requirement in a general parenting plan is that it set forth the minimum amount of time the non-custodial parent is entitled to spend with the child(ren). For more information on custody, and custodial vs. non-custodial parents, see my blog post “The myth of joint custody.”
A detailed parenting plan is appropriate for parents who have trouble agreeing on responsibilities, or for parties who need the reassurance of having all aspects of the parenting time in writing. Some parties believe that having a detailed parenting plan provides clarity and prevents the other party from screwing around, so to speak. A detailed parenting plan may include the following provisions:
(a) Residential schedule;
(b) Holiday, birthday and vacation planning;
(c) Weekends, including holidays, and school in-service days preceding or following weekends;
(d) Decision-making and responsibility;
(e) Information sharing and access;
(f) Relocation of parents;
(g) Telephone access;
(h) Transportation; and
(i) Methods for resolving disputes.
Parents are free to add any other provisions that they believe are necessary and are allowed under the law.
Generally, it is best for the parents to craft a parenting plan either on their own, or with the help of a legal professional such as a lawyer or a mediator. The Court (a judge) will craft the plan when one of the parents requests the Court to do so, or if the parents are unable to agree on a plan of their own. When the Court crafts a plan, it can only consider the best interests of the child(ren) and the safety of the parties.
If you have questions about creating, enforcing, or modifying a parenting plan, be sure to speak with an Oregon family law attorney as soon as possible.