Portland Family Law: How is Child Custody Determined in Divorce and Unmarried Parent Cases?

Child custody is one of the most difficult and emotional parts of any divorce. Making matters worse, many parents don’t understand how the process works, and so they feel helpless and clueless about the matter. In this blog entry we will shine some light on the child custody process here in Oregon. To learn more, contact us today and we’ll set up a consultation with one of our Portland family lawyers!

In Oregon, child custody may be either joint custody or sole custody.

Joint custody does not necessarily mean that the child divides his time equally between the two parents. It means the parents share in making decisions about the child. Joint custody in Oregon requires the approval of both parents.

Sole custody is necessary when either parent objects to joint custody. The judge decides which parent will have sole custody. With sole custody, the custodial parent makes all decisions regarding the child’s welfare, such as where the child lives, where she goes to school, major medical decisions, and some religious decisions.

Judges seek to award custody based on a number of factors such as the degree to which the parent is interested in the child, a history of abuse on the part of either parent, and the degree to which each parent is willing to foster a good relationship between the other parent and the child.

The child’s preferences may be taken into account, but the child’s wishes aren’t binding. The wishes of an older child are more likely to have an influence.

Expert witnesses may testify before the judge. These will typically be teachers, psychologists, social workers, etc. The judge may take a parent’s conduct, income, or lifestyle under review if it is shown that these factors may harm the child.

A parenting plan is required by the court. A parenting plan includes the minimum time each parent should spend with the child. If the parents can’t agree on a plan, the court will decide how much time each parent should spend with the child.

Once an order is in place, neither parent may move more than 60 miles away from the other parent without notifying the non-moving parent and the court.

There are guidelines used for calculating child support. Child support is determined by considering the parties’ income and the amount of time the child spends with the parent.

Once the judge signs the child custody order, the order stands unless one of the parents files a motion to modify the order. The order specifies the custody arrangements, child visitation rights, and child support.

If you have any questions about child custody in Oregon or would like to speak to a Portland family lawyer, our team is standing by to help. We understand how difficult this process can be, and we are here to provide support for you every step of the way.