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Parent Resources


Dealing with Divorce

Top 10 list of things parents can do to help their children adjust to family change:

  1. Offer simple explanations about the changes in the family. Children especially need to hear what will not change, i.e. will attend same school, will continue with swimming lessons, will keep their dog, etc.
  2. Reassure children many, many times that the changes are not their fault. They didn't cause it, they can't fix it, but you will help them cope. You can't say this enough.
  3. Help your children accept that divorce is a final decision.
  4. Do not allow your children to become your peers. Avoid confiding in and relying on them as you would a good friend. Children do not do well while attempting to meet adult emotional needs.
  5. Do involve your children in household chores and decisions. Tell them that their input is valuable. Feeling needed in this way is a good thing.
  6. Do not give up your power as a parent out of guilt. Your children need clear and enforced limits now more than ever. Because the changes cause insecurity, children will test those limits to see if you are for real. Set limits and consequences with calmness and clarity.
  7. If one parent drops out of your child's life, say: "I don't know why your mother/father hasn't made arrangements to see you, but I know one thing, it has nothing to do with you! You are very lovable and I enjoy being with you very much."
  8. Do not criticize the other parent. It directly affects children's identities. They see themselves as half Mom and half Dad. When one parent is labeled stupid or lazy, children assume they must be thought of that way too. And it actually causes them to think less of the criticizer in the long run.
  9. Do not put children in the middle by using them as spies when visiting the other parent, by asking them to carry messages back and forth, or by expecting them to take sides between parents.
  10. Listen. Take time before bedtime, in the car, on Saturdays to listen. Begin by saying you know it has been hard for them. Repeat their words back to them. Let them know that all their feelings are OK and talking about them really helps.


Your Young Child's Brain

Early Experiences Count

Our court is paying special attention to cases involving young children because of research that indicates attachment and brain development at this stage is critical. A child's brain is undeveloped at birth, and organizes 85% of its core brain structures during the first three years in accordance with the child's experiences.
Young children who fail to develop healthy attachments due to sudden separation, poor parenting skills, inconsistent or inadequate day care, chronic maternal depression, neglect or abandonment, frequent moves, abuse, or other trauma are at risk for problems later in life.
For more information on how you can improve your child's brain development, visit the ZERO TO THREE website.

Child Care

Choosing quality childcare is important for your young child's development. For more information on how to find appropriate childcare for your child, visit the ZERO TO THREE website.


Local services are available for mothers experiencing post partum depression. Contact the Easter Seals Children's Guild at 503.485.2197. Other helpful links:

Developmental Concerns

For first time parents, figuring out what is normal development for a young child can be difficult. The American Academy of Pediatrics publishes information about what to expect at each stage of development.
Local services to address developmental concerns and mental health issues are available in Marion County:


Did you know in the United States that half of children under age three fail to get recommended intakes of the essential nutrients, and the problem is not limited to poor families? Did you know that foods consumed early in life can have an impact on school performance and adult intelligence later in life? Read more.

School Readiness

Research shows that the building blocks for reading and writing can be developed when a child is a baby. Reading, talking and singing to your child help him or her to learn language.

Child Safety 

General Information

Concerns about child abuse and neglect are serious; please report them to the Department of Human Resources. Families already involved in a civil case, such as a divorce or custody proceeding, may discuss safety issues with their attorneys, or if they do not have attorneys, with the court. Parents involved in mediation should raise safety concerns with the mediator. A Safety Focused Parenting Plan Guide is available to help parents consider what to include in the parenting plan (the document that sets forth custody, time sharing and decision making) to improve safety. 

Parenting Classes

When the court orders parents to participate in parenting classes, the parents must report to a class chosen by the judge. Parents are responsible for any fees associated with their parenting classes.

Domestic Violence 

A variety of services offered through the court are available to assist domestic violence victims:
A victim may also report crimes involving domestic violence to the Marion County Sheriff's office or local police department.
Safety planning and other services are available through the Center for Hope and Safety.
A complete overview of local services and legal protections available to victims is available in English and Spanish.


Marriage Counseling 

Counseling is available for couples who are not sure if divorce or separation is the best option.  Although the court does not endorse any particular provider, we have compiled a list of resources below to help locate a counselor and other community services.
The following mental health professionals serve on the court's domestic relations mediation panel and also provide marriage counseling services.
Ben Coleman
1698 Liberty St. S
Salem, OR  97302
Larry Lawson
2697 12th Place SE
Salem, OR 97302
Ladonna Macmber
3884 Commercial St. SE, Suite 203
Salem, OR  97302
Kathy Outland
2695 12th Place SE
Salem, OR  97302
Thomas Stern
1645 Liberty St. SE
Salem, OR  97302

Developing a Parenting Plan 


Mediation is a process that allows parents to work out a plan that sets out the child's schedule with each parent, and specifies how decisions about the child will be made. A mediator is a neutral party appointed by the court. There is no fee for the first eight hours of the mediator's time.

Mediation Orientation

Before you see the mediator, the court will schedule a time for you to learn more about the process and will formally appoint a mediator to your case. When you come to court, you will hear a judge speak and you will view an orientation video.

Age Considerations and Safety

Young children (age zero to three) need to spend a certain amount of time with the primary caregiver in order to maintain healthy attachment and brain development. More information about age appropriate parenting plans and plans that take into consideration safety concerns is posted on the Oregon Judicial Department's website.
The parenting plan specific to Marion County are available in English and in Spanish.  Additional tools for calculating overnights can be found below.
Simply put an 'x' next to the choice and it will automatically calculate the overnights depending on which options are checked.

Family Law Department

Phone: 503.373.4349

Marion County Courthouse
100 High St. NE
Salem, Oregon