Child Custody in Oregon

Contact a Portland Child Custody Attorney

A child custody decision is likely the most stressful, but important decisions that will occur in a family law case. In Oregon, child custody laws are intended to protect children and promote the best interests of the child in the event of a divorce. A child’s custodial parent will be the parent who makes the most important decisions for that child until the child reaches adulthood or under custody is modified by the courts. These important decisions include the child’s primary residence, school, major medical decisions and religious decisions.

Father’s Rights vs. Mother’s Rights in Oregon Child Custody

Establishing Custody

Courts can establish child custody in a divorce case involving children or, if the parents are unmarried, in a custody case. A judge only has the power to award sole custody to one parent or the other, however, if the parents agree on joint custody the court will approve that custody agreement. There are several factors that go into determining which parent should receive custody, but two of the most significant determinants are which parent has been the primary parent and which parent is most likely to facilitate an ongoing relationship with the other parent. Although one parent may be the primary parent, the court may award custody to the non-primary parent if it appears as if the primary parent is likely to alienate a child from the other parent. Also very important is the abuse of one parent or the child by the other parent. If abuse has occurred, judges must presume that the abusive parent should not be the custodial parent unless that presumption is rebutted by other evidence.

Paternity

Parents must establish their rights to child custody and support by first proving that they are the child’s parent. Married parents are presumed to be the parents of the children born during their marriage, which is why paternity actions are most frequently filed by unmarried fathers and mothers. We know the importance of being recognized as your child’s parent and will support your paternity goals.

If a mother doesn’t want a father involved in a child’s life she may contest his paternity petition. Likewise, a father seeking to avoid a support obligation might want to deny paternity and request DNA testing to prove that he is not the father. If you are in either circumstance we can help. We will listen to you and make sure you understand the legal process for establishing paternity, child custody and support.

Child Visitation – Parenting Time

Parenting Time 

Custody of a child does not determine the amount of parenting time each parent receives, which will vary significantly based on a child’s age, needs and attachment to each parent.  Some courts have model parenting plans to work off and some don’t. Both the 50/50 model and the “every-other-weekend model” are very common, however, the subtleties of holidays and summer vacation are divided can be very important and different under either of these plans.

Child Custody Evaluation

Child Custody Experts and Studies 

Because child custody decisions can be very difficult for the court, we often hire a custody expert, or child custody evaluator, to write a report about your family to the court. That expert may also testify at trial, if necessary. These experts are important because they often help parties settle cases who might otherwise proceed to trial. Nonetheless, judges often go against the recommendations of a custody expert. This is why it is so important to know what experts are respected in their field and which experts are disfavored by certain judges.

Contact a Portland Child Custody Attorney
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