In Oregon, as in many states, the family law system emphasizes the importance of both parents maintaining a relationship with their children, even after a divorce or separation. For non-custodial parents, this often means establishing a visitation schedule.
These schedules are not one-size-fits-all; they need to be tailored to fit the unique needs of each family. However, some general schedule ideas work for many families and can be tweaked to fit the specifics of your daily life. Let’s explore some common examples of visitation schedules and discuss how they can be modified when circumstances change.
Common Visitation Schedules
Typically, visitation schedules for non-custodial parents are designed to ensure that children have an ongoing and meaningful relationship with both parents after a separation or divorce. The most common visitation schedules are flexible to accommodate the varying needs of families, but some typical arrangements include:
- Every Other Weekend Visitation: This is one of the most standard visitation schedules, where the non-custodial parent has the children every other weekend, usually from Friday evening to Sunday evening. This schedule is often preferred as it minimizes disruption to the children’s school week.
- Mid-Week Visits or Overnights: In addition to alternate weekend visits, some parents might have mid-week visits. This could be an overnight stay, particularly if the non-custodial parent lives nearby, or it could be an evening visit for a few hours. This schedule allows the non-custodial parent to maintain a consistent presence in the children’s lives. It’s most common when parents live relatively close to each other and the children’s school since, otherwise, it can pose transportation difficulties.
- Extended Visits During School Breaks: School holidays, such as summer or winter breaks, are often when the visitation schedule shifts. The non-custodial parent might have the children for a more extended period during these breaks, such as a week or two in the summer or alternating holidays each year. This becomes more common as parents live further apart, making more frequent school-year visits difficult or impractical.
- Split Holidays and Special Occasions: Holidays and special occasions (like birthdays) are typically shared or alternated between the parents. For example, one parent might have the children for Thanksgiving and the other for Christmas, alternating each year. This lets children and parents spend time together on specific important days every other year. Alternatively, if parents celebrate different holidays or have strong preferences, certain days may always go to one person. For example, if one parent is Jewish and the other is Christian, the Jewish parent may always get Thanksgiving, Hannukah, and Passover. In contrast, the Christian parent may always get Christmas, New Year’s, and Easter.
- Long-Distance Visitation Schedules: If one parent lives a significant distance from the children, the visitation schedule might be less frequent but for longer durations, such as during school breaks or summer vacations. In this case, the kids may spend a month or more with the non-custodial parent over break and spend the rest of the year with the custodial parent, with phone or video calls to remain in contact otherwise.
- Custom Schedules for Younger Children: For very young children, especially toddlers or infants, visitation schedules might involve shorter but more frequent visits to maintain a strong bond with the non-custodial parent.
The Oregon court system provides some examples of these schedules in practice. However, it’s crucial to remember that a boilerplate plan doesn’t take into account factors like your work schedule, kids’ extracurriculars, or unexpected health issues or weather emergencies. It’s always better to customize your parenting plan to make sure it reflects your needs and preferences to avoid unnecessary disputes or modifications down the road.
Modifying Visitation Schedules in Oregon
The thing about raising children is that they grow and change over time. As a result, even the best parenting plan may need to be adjusted after a few years pass. In Oregon, either parent can request a modification of the visitation order. Common reasons for seeking modifications include:
- Changes in work schedules
- Changes in the child’s needs or preferences as they age
- Health issues
To modify a visitation schedule, the parent must typically show that there has been a significant change in circumstances since the last order was made.
It’s essential to remember that the court’s primary concern is the best interest of the child, and any modifications will be viewed through this lens. In other words, the court is unlikely to agree to modify your visitation schedule just because you dislike driving through rush hour traffic on Fridays to pick up your kids. However, if you get a new job or your kids are going to a new school and the old schedule no longer suits your needs, the court is more likely to grant your modification request.
The Benefits of a Collaborative Approach
Oregon courts prioritize the best interests of the child, and visitation schedules are designed to support the child’s well-being and the parent-child relationship. Parents are often encouraged to work together to create a schedule that works best for their children. Working together lets you achieve better outcomes, such as:
- Accounting for your actual work schedules
- Making sure your kids’ extracurriculars are accounted for
- Adding in flexibility for health and weather concerns
Mediation services or collaborative law approaches can be excellent resources for reaching an agreement that suits everyone, especially the children involved.
Skilled Legal Counsel for Visitation Schedules in Salem, Oregon
Every family is unique, and finding the right visitation schedule requires considering the needs and circumstances of both the parents and the children. Remember, what works now might need to be adjusted in the future. An experienced Salem, Oregon, family law attorney can provide guidance and representation throughout this process, ensuring that your rights and the best interests of your children are protected. Get in touch with the team at Regele Law, LLC, to learn how we can help you create a visitation schedule that works for your entire family.