What to expect with regards to child custody in Oregon divorce cases.
What is child custody?
Child custody in Oregon or, legal custody over a child is generally the right of one parent to make the most important decisions for that child as they grow up. Those usually surround everyday health care decisions, who the child’s doctor may be, where the child goes to school, the child’s primary residence and what sort of religious teachings the child receives. Those 4 things are the scope of the custodial parent.
Types of child custody
There are 2 ways to structure child custody in Oregon. One is sole custody to one parent and the other is joint custody where neither party necessarily has more authority than the other. In joint custody, the parents work together to reach decisions regarding the child’s primary home, school, religion and health care.
Joint custody can be a great situation for parents who get along well and who are more concerned about making decisions about the child’s best interests rather than pushing each others buttons. Unfortunately, in a lot of divorces that’s not the case. A lot of times, the relationship has deteriorated to the point that the spouses cannot function well as joint decision makers for the children. For that reason, the Court is not even allowed to order joint custody if either parent objects to joint custody. Simply put, the Court can’t force people to be in a co-parenting custodial relationship. The parties have to agree to it
Child Custody and Parenting Time
A lot of times people end up arguing about who should be the sole custodial parent but being a sole custodial parent does not necessarily mean that one parent gets more parenting time. Parenting time is completely independent of custody. For example, you can have a parent with sole custody who shares 50% of the parenting time.
You can also have interesting custody arrangements that are a kind of blending of joint custody and sole custody. For example, there could be a situation where one parent is a teacher and the other is a doctor. The teacher parent may be better at making decisions about the child’s schooling and the parent who is the doctor is better at making the health care decisions. In this situation, you might end up with a joint custodial arrangement, so far as both parties agree, where the doctor parent is in charge of health care decisions and teacher parent is in charge of schooling decisions. Then a primary residence would be assigned based on where the child primarily resides.
Joint custody usually requires the parents to remain in close proximity after the divorce. If one parent moves several hundred miles away, that makes exchanging the child much more difficult. It often strains the relationship because, at that point, it’s just not practical for them to be in a joint custodial relationship or have anywhere near 50-50 parenting time
Henry LeSueur has represented mothers and fathers in child custody cases. Whether you are seeking a simple sole custody arrangement or a more customized parenting plan we can help. We have years of experience helping Oregon families navigate Child Custody laws and representing their interests in court. Call us now for more information about your rights in a child custody case.