child custody orders and back to school questions

Child Custody Orders & Back To School

Every September, kids get to return to school. Depending on the child, this can be exciting, boring, or scary. When their parents are separated, these feelings are heightened. After all, during the school year, custody orders can be very different than during the summer.

As a parent, it’s your responsibility to help your child adjust to returning to school no matter what your parenting agreement looks like. They’re already going through enough changes without confusion over where they live, making it worse. Here’s what you need to know about how Oregon child custody orders can change during school, your responsibilities during this time, and how to change the order if it’s in your kid’s best interest.

How Oregon Custody Orders Can Change During the School Year

Every child custody arrangement is different. When parents share responsibility for their kids, no guideline or mandate states how the child’s time with each parent must be split. As long as the parents both get the time stated in the order, the arrangement can be different for every family. It’s up to the co-parents to negotiate a schedule that works for them.

That means that your children’s schedules may look very different during the school year compared to the summer. Some co-parents choose something simple: the child switches homes every week all year long. However, this is only feasible if the co-parents share custody evenly and both can take the child to school. It’s more common to split time based on weekends, weekdays, and vacation breaks.

For example, if two parents live far apart, the children may spend the school year with the parent who lives nearer their school. Then during holiday and summer breaks, they go to their other parent’s home. Other co-parents may agree on a schedule where the kids alternate weeks during the summer, then spend school year weekdays with one parent and weekends with the other. As long as both parents agree on the schedule and it’s approved by the court, any arrangement is valid.

Your Parental Responsibilities During School

When you’ve put together a co-parenting schedule in Oregon, you’re legally obliged to follow it. That means that your biggest responsibility to your kids during the school year is to make sure you abide by the schedule. You and your co-parent have worked together, potentially with legal assistance, to develop a schedule that works for you and your children. Following it is best for everyone.

Following your schedule means dropping off and picking up your children from the other parent when the schedule dictates. While it may be tempting to ignore your co-parent’s custodial weekend, it’s a bad idea. Failing to follow the parenting plan is grounds for losing custody. Here are a few guidelines to follow to avoid missing custody exchanges and keep things running smoothly.

  • Review your visitation order regularly. Your schedule will be unique, so make sure you understand it. Make sure you know when your co-parent has your children and when you do. Not knowing your order is not an excuse for missing custody exchanges.
  • Keep your schedule consistent. If you’re swapping your children weekly or biweekly, you’ll need to be available at regular times. It’s best for your kids to set a custody exchange routine where you always meet at the same time in the same place. It will also make it easier to avoid missing exchanges by accident.
  • Prep in advance for the custody exchange. Nothing is more likely to cause problems with your custody exchange than forgetting something like homework, medications, or clothes. Make sure you have everything your kid needs before you drop them off. Don’t use forgotten items as an excuse to miss the exchange.
  • Be flexible. You or your co-parent will inevitably be a few minutes late to an exchange. One of you may even miss a scheduled swap entirely if an emergency pops up. Be flexible with occasional last-minute adjustments to build goodwill and a history of being accommodating.
  • Know your rights. Occasional lateness and rare skipped exchanges are inevitable, but it shouldn’t happen every time. If your co-parent seems to be actively ignoring your custody schedule, you should take action. You can work with a lawyer to demonstrate that they aren’t following the schedule, and they may be held in contempt of court and face penalties.

When Is Changing the Order In Your Kid’s Best Interest?

In some cases, following the original custody or visitation schedule is impossible. Your work schedule may have changed, the kids may have transferred to a different school, or one of you moved a long distance. More concerning is when your co-parent refuses to follow the schedule you’ve set, making it impossible to see your children or keep a routine. In these situations, it may be in your child’s best interest to change the custody order.

Remember, all custody orders are intended to help support your kids. These orders are designed to give kids relationships with both parents while maintaining a sense of stability in their lives. If circumstances or your parenting partner make the old schedule ineffective for maintaining stability, then it’s for the best that you petition to have it changed.

You can petition to have your custody or parenting time orders changed by filing a motion requesting modification. These forms allow you to ask the court for a change to your order based on a significant change in circumstances. You’ll need to work with the Oregon Child Support Program to develop a new, more effective schedule, and you may wind up going to court if your co-parent disputes it. Still, it’s worth it to protect your children.

Keep Child Custody Consistent All Year Long

While the school year has started, your kids still need time with you. By making sure you follow your parenting schedule and making sure your co-parent does the same, you’re helping your children feel safe and stable.

If you need to change a child custody order this school year, we can help. Reach out to a qualified family law attorney today to discuss your situation. You can request a modification to your order and help keep your kids comfortable and happy all year long.

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