Mediation Northwest

Unmarried Parenting Time and Child Support

Unmarried couples come in two varieties:

  1. those who have lived together and commingled money (and may also have a child together) or
  2. those who have a child together, but who have not lived together and have not commingled money.

For those couples who have lived together and commingled funds, you may be in a “domestic partnership.”

A domestic partnership is a relationship where a couple has lived together, commingled funds, and intended to pool resources for the parties’ mutual benefit. If you are in a domestic partnership, then please review our divorce/separation information for how to proceed because the information is the same with one exception domestic partnerships do not have a legal right to spousal support; which doesn’t mean the parties cannot agree to support, but it isn’t spousal support.

For those couples who have not lived together,

please review the divorce/separation information for custody, parenting time, and child support information.


Custody comes in two forms: sole and joint.

  • Sole custody means one parent is the sole decision-maker for the child regarding the child’s education, religion, health care, and residence.
  • Joint custody means both parents must agree upon decisions for the child regarding the child’s education, religion, health care, and residence.

However, if either party wants to move more than 60 miles away, the court can intervene on residence. So, don’t let that freak you out.

Joint custody cannot be forced upon parties by the court. So, if parties cannot agree upon joint custody and one party is demanding sole custody, then a court is forced to choose one party to award sole custody.

Here’s a short-hand of what custody and parenting time mean:

  • Custody = decision making for the child regarding education, health care, religion, and residence (within 60 miles).
  • Parenting time = time with the child.

Parenting Time

In Oregon, “parenting time” means the time each parent may spend with the parties’ child.

Although children are resilient, they appreciate predictable schedules along with frequent and consistent contact with each parent. Consistency and predictability are important factors to children. Parents need to focus on what is best for their child, and not what is best for the parents.

I recommend reviewing our Parenting Plan Guide.  The guide contains the most popular parenting plans and suggestions for holiday time, too. Most clients have found this guide to be extremely helpful in preparing themselves for mediation. I strongly encourage potential clients to review our Parenting Plan Guide prior to mediation. It will educate you and it will guide you through decisions, which saves time and saves money.

Click here to download Parenting Plan Guide
  • Focus on Children:

In Lane County, all parents who have a child 17-years-old or younger are required to take a parenting class called Focus on Children.

  • Suggestions for a Successful Custody and Parenting Time Mediation:

Parties who have discussed their thoughts with each other prior to the mediation regarding custody and parenting time are generally more successful in reaching resolution. Additionally, parents who have fully processed their thoughts about both the standard parenting time schedule and the vacation/holiday parenting time schedule generally save time and money.

Child support

The presumed amount of child support in Oregon is determined by a formula created by the Oregon Legislature. The formula is based upon many factors, including, but not limited to, the number of children, any other children of one of the parties, the gross income of each parent, spousal support paid and received, the number of overnights each child spends with each parent, the cost of health insurance, and child care expenses.

A calculator has been established by the Department of Justice, Division of Child Support. Many people find using this calculator to be complicated. The proper computation of child support is a service provided by Mediation Northwest. Child support is available for a child until age 18 or through age 20 if the child is attending school.

In mediation, most couples quickly realize that the calculated child support is not enough for their child to live the life they want their child to live. Therefore, in addition to the calculated child support, many parties also agree to share expenses for their child’s uninsured medical expenses, extra-curricular expenses, clothing, additional school fees, etc.

Contact Mediation Northwest
to learn more

If you are an unmarried parent and need help, call 541-484-1200 or send us a message to get the conversation started.

We are here to help you cut through the drama!

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