5 tips for putting together a shared parenting plan in Oregon

Parents who are trying to form their own shared parenting plan in Oregon should heed tips from experts.

Experts agree that children typically benefit from having a relationship with both parents. In situations in which parents are unmarried or parents are divorcing, it is possible that one parent may obtain sole legal custody. However, that does not mean the other cannot spend time with a child. In fact, as the Oregon State Bar points out, sole legal custody gives a parent the right to make decisions; parenting time enables each parent to have a relationship with the child.

Developing a parenting plan can and should take place outside the courtroom. In fact, many couples benefit from developing their own agreement rather than having the courts make the decision. Here are five tips for generating a fair and workable parenting plan:

1. Effective communication

One of the most important aspects of making a shared parenting plan and sticking to it is to ensure both parents can communicate with each other effectively. They should determine what the best medium may be, such as phone calls, emails, or texts, or an online parenting tool like Our Family Wizard. This is crucial because life can get in the way of best laid plans, and parents will need to be able to reach each other if there will be a deviation.

2. Uniform rules

Children who will be spending time living with each parent should still be held to the same or similar rules. Otherwise, it is possible for a child to resent a parent who appears to be more strict, or a parent could grow angry with the other over failing to enforce rules. Experts agree that consistency and structure help shape a child during his or her formative years.

3. Be supportive

A child will lose contact with one parent in approximately one-third of cases in which the parents live separately. In order to avoid this, both parents must be supportive of a child's relationship with the other parent. This may mean having flexibility with a schedule or encouraging phone calls to one parent when the child is staying with the other. It could also mean remaining open to making changes to the parenting plan, should the need arise.

4. Plan for special events

To avoid conflicts, it is ideal for the parents to discuss where children may be for special occasions or how to handle dates such as the following:

  • Birthdays
  • Holidays
  • Vacations

While it may be necessary to make adjustments on the fly in some cases, having an established plan ahead of time can provide a good foundation.

5. Use clear language

Lastly, a well-written and detailed parenting plan should leave little room for interpretation. For example, simply writing that the parents will alternate weekends could cause controversy if there is no clear depiction of when the weekend begins. Instead, the parents should try to be as clear as possible, such as stating that children will be picked up at 5 p.m. Friday and returned by 7 p.m. Sunday.

It may be necessary to involve legal professionals in this process to ensure a fair, comprehensive plan. Anyone who has questions about this issue should speak to a family law attorney in Oregon.