Family law is a legal area where courts are able to oversee and/or make
decisions regarding familial relationships. This can be a difficult and
challenging process because families are all incredibly unique, and because
children are often involved. When children are involved in family law
cases, courts will go to great lengths to consider how decisions impact
The first step in determining child custody arrangements is whether the
parents can come to an agreement. For example:
When Parents Agree
Parents can agree to share custody. This agreement is known as
joint legal custody and under Oregon law, it means that parents will be sharing decision-making
responsibilities for a child. Joint custody does not mean that a child
must live one parent half of the time, and parents can arrange the situations
themselves. In Oregon, judges cannot award joint custody unless both parents
agree to it.
When Parents Don't Agree
In cases where parents do not wish to have joint custody, a family law
judge will be responsible for determining which parent will have
sole legal custody and how much
parenting time each parent have. With sole custody, one parent (custodial parent) will
have the responsibility for making all major decisions involving the child.
In any type of case involving children, courts will consider
the best interests of a child. Whether both parents agree on joint custody or one parent is awarded
sole custody, the courts must approve that the arrangement will be appropriate
for the child.
Some of the factors used to determine a child's best interests include:
- Emotional bonds between the child and parent / family member.
- A parent's involvement in the child's life.
- Whether continuing an existing relationship is desirable.
- Signs of abuse.
- Willingness and ability of each parent to care for a child and encourage
a relationship between the child and other parent
Courts will also consider parents carefully, including their conduct, criminal
history, marital status, financial situation, social environment, and
lifestyle. In most cases, courts are not in favor of separating siblings.
Judges have the ability to consider a child's wishes for custody arrangements,
and may give more weight to the wishes of older children than those of
younger children. Still, a child's preference will not always be reflected
in a final custody arrangement.
If you have questions about child custody, your rights, and how an Oregon
child custody lawyer from McKinley Irvin can help in your situation, we
invite you to contact us.