As Children Grow, Court Reviews Parenting Time

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The Oregon Court of Appeals’ recent decision in Shelton and Shelton addresses a family’s changing needs after remarriage, relocation, and the passage of time. After the dissolution of their marriage, the parties shared joint custody of their two children, with Mother as the primary residential parent. For eight years, Father enjoyed regular parenting time beginning every Thursday at 5 p.m. and continuing until Saturday evening or Sunday morning. In August 2001, Mother filed for modification, seeking a different parenting schedule. The children were now teenagers involved in various activities, each parent had remarried, and Mother had moved 24 miles away from Father’s residence. Both parties agreed that a modification was warranted to serve their children’s best interests. However, they disagreed on the new schedule.

Father’s appeal challenged the decision reducing his parenting time despite the evaluator’s recommendation that Father continue to have a “large number of overnights” with the children, albeit without a lot of “back and forth.” The trial court, while recognizing that its modified plan would leave Father with fewer overnights, refused to give Father any mid-week overnights, instead granting him alternate weekends and a four hour evening slot every other week. On appeal, Father asserted that his visits should be longer and more frequent. The Court of Appeals agreed, and modified the schedule to provide Father parenting time from Wednesday night to Sunday night every other week, and from Wednesday after school until Thursday morning during the alternate weeks.