How Child Custody is Determined in an Oregon Divorce

Posted on September 22, 2014 10:25am
How Child Custody is Determined in an Oregon Divorce

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 their futures.

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.

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