If you travel for work, it can create havoc for your custody and parenting plans. For the most part, a travel schedule doesn’t impact spousal support or property division. It can impact, indirectly, your child support order only in how it might influence the number of overnights you are awarded with the children. Overnights are a major factor in the state’s computation of child support.
However, for custody and parenting time, it really hurts your case in some ways. So how will traveling for work effect custody and parenting time?
First, the question of custody is one where the judge can give custody to whichever parent will be best for the children to have custody. In Oregon, the primary deciding factor is “who is the primary caregiver”. This says nothing about financial care, but refers in Oregon to which parent can show that they typically are the one providing the day to day care for the children. If you go to court, where the evidence shows that you are going to be traveling 30% of the year for work, you will have a very steep climb to prove to the judge that you are the primary caregiver.
Situations Are Unique, So Will Traveling for Work Effect Custody For Me?
This isn’t to say that you can’t win a custody case under if you travel for work, but it certainly can’t help such a case. Everyone’s situation is unique, and the judge is supposed to consider all evidence that is relevant to the decision concerning what is best for your child. For example, if you are out of town 4 nights a month, that might not matter much. If you are out of town 22 nights a month, you will have a much harder time.
Also, there are many other factors, not just the primary caregiver assessment that the judge should consider. It may be that you can put together a strong case on other grounds for being awarded custody. Again, everyone’s situation is unique, the best way to know where you stand is to consult with an experienced family law attorney in your area.
Parenting time is a different situation that custody. Parenting time is the actual day to day plan for when your children will visit with each of you. Often one of the first questions on a judge’s mind when charged with deciding a parenting plan is “what is everyone’s work schedule?”. The reason for this, is that Oregon wants to maximize time spent with parents. Any time one parent is working, and the other isn’t, Oregon judges try to give time to the non working parent.
When one parent travels for work, they certainly can’t have much parenting time during those trips. However, it can be a blessing in disguise sometimes, as your judge might be willing to give you extra time when you aren’t traveling to make up for the time missed while on the road.
Depending on when you travel, and how long each trip is, it can create havoc with arranging for a consistent schedule. This is particularly true for parents who’s work trips are variable, and are likely to change at the last minute. Judges will do the best they can to maximize your time with your children, but of course some situations are more delicate to balance than others.