There has been a substantial increase in the number of “unmarried partners” and “single parent families” in Oregon. More and more people are living together and having children without getting married. While every relationship starts with the best intentions, most of these couples are subjecting themselves to a complex legal system with numerous traps for the uninformed. If you and your domestic partner have children, it is important to know your legal rights under Oregon’s child custody laws. The failure to do so can have serious consequence that could impact a lifetime.
OREGON CHILD CUSTODY LAW DOES NOT FAVOR EITHER PARENT
It is a common assumption that child custody laws favor the child’s mother over the father. This is simply not true and contrary to statute. Oregon law provides that a father’s rights are equal to the mother’s rights. Under Oregon law the court is required to determine what is in the bests interests and welfare of the child. For example, a mother with a substantial drug or alcohol problem which effects her ability to care for the child will not get custody over a father who is a good parent.
LEGAL CUSTODY IN OREGON
A determination of legal custody gives a parent responsibility for the primary care of the minor child. It involves responsibility for the day to day decision making, care and needs of the child. This is often referred to as the primary care provider. A court cannot award custody or parenting time for a child who is older than 18 years of age.
Under Oregon law, there are two types of legal custody. Joint or shared custody and sole legal custody. In Oregon, joint custody can only be awarded when the parties agree to joint custody. This requires the parents to agree as to the major decision making for the child. The courts are required to award joint custody when the parties request it.
Absent such an agreement, the Court must award sole legal custody to one parent. Sole legal custody allows the custodial parent to make all major decisions regarding the care and upbringing of the minor child. This would include all heath care, religious and education decisions.
The characterization of the custody arrangement is important for purposes of modification should this become necessary at a future date. The standard for modifying joint custody is much easier and only requires a showing of the failure to cooperate or that the custodial arrangement is no longer workable. The modification of sole legal custody is more difficult and requires a showing of a substantial change in circumstances.
PARENTING TIME IN OREGON
Parenting time is determined by the what is in the best interests of the child. It is the policy in Oregon to provide wholesome and regular parenting time to a non-custodial parent. The nature and amount of parenting time depends upon the individual’s relationship and involvement with the child. A Court may apply limiting factors and restrictions to parenting time for drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse. In severe cases, the Court may require supervised parenting time to ensure the safety of a child. It is important to develop a parenting plan which takes into account the unique circumstances of each family.
PAUL F. SHERMAN IS AN EXPERIENCED CHILD CUSTODY ATTORNEY
Whether you need to establish custody or a new parenting plan, or if you need assistance in following the correct procedures to obtain legal custody or visitation for your child, you need the advice of an experienced child custody attorney. We recognize the impact a custody determination can have on the most import thing to you and your family, custody and quality parenting time with your child. The Law Offices of Paul F. Sherman has the experience necessary to address your concerns and to protect your rights.
CONTACT PAUL F. SHERMAN FOR EXPERT ADVICE ON CHILD CUSTODY AND PARENTING TIME IN OREGON
We know you have more questions and we have the answers. If you would like to learn more about child custody and parenting time in Oregon, call the Law Offices of Paul F. Sherman at (503) 223-8441 for legal advice, or Contact Us for a free child custody or parenting time consultation.