Updated: Mar 30, 2020
Is there a significant change regarding equal parenting time?
Senate Bill 318 from the Oregon Legislature stirred considerable discussion last year in its early stage. Earlier versions of the bill that addressed development of a detained parenting plan created a “rebuttable presumption” of equal parenting time. The party opposing equal parenting time would have been faced with the burden of presenting evidence to overcome that presumption. There was no age criteria specified, which caused concern that young infants or toddlers would be subject to an equal parenting share. Advocate fathers were supportive, feeling that for too long they were on the short end of the parenting time awarded. However, subsequent amendments removed the “rebuttable presumption” requirement.
The pertinent portion of the new law found in ORS 107.102 is as follows:
“In developing a parenting plan under this subjection the court may order equal parenting time. If a parent rejects that the court order equal parenting in the parenting plan, the court may deny the requests if the court determines, by written findings that equal parenting time is not in the best interests of the child or endangers the safety of the parties.”
In its final version, the trial court remains, as it has in the past, with discretion in determining parenting time. Guided by “best interests of the child” the court is vested with discretion in deciding an appropriate parenting plan. In reality, the only true difference with this new law is that if the court declines to order equal parenting time, the decision must be supported by written findings set forth in the judgement as to why it is not in the best interests of the child or to ensure the safety of the parties. Absent from HB 316 as any details as to what must be set forth in the findings. Presumably, it would appear that the findings will be under ORS 107.137 that sets forth factors in considering custody.
If you are facing a potential dispute related to custody and parenting time it is important to be aware of the factors under ORS 107.137 and to develop a strategic approach to present your case to the court.