Custody & Parenting Time
Custody and parenting time issues can become fraught and contentious for families. Despite parents’ best efforts, emotions may run high where children are involved. For the sake of children’s long-term psychological and emotional health, it is essential to remain as calm and civil as possible with your child’s other parent.
My goal is to assist and encourage you and your partner to work together to resolve custody issues and develop a parenting plan that is best for your children. The hope is always that this will be a team effort between you and your partner – how can you both create a long-term, best possible environment in which your children may grow and thrive? If cooperative teamwork is not possible however, if there is abuse by one parent of the other, or of the children, then I work vigorously to help ensure that your and your children’s health, safety, and welfare are paramount.
There are many resources available to guide parents through custody and parenting time disputes. A skilled mediator can provide invaluable assistance, as can a parenting coordinator or custody evaluator. Asking the court to appoint an attorney to represent your child is also an option if a peaceful and civil resolution to custody and parenting time matters is not possible.
There are two types of custody in Oregon: Legal custody, and physical custody, which is called parenting time. Legal custody determines which parent will have the ultimate authority to decide important aspects of a child’s upbringing – what religion the children will be raised in, what school they will attend, who their health care providers will be. Legal custody can be shared, allowing both parents to make these decisions together. This arrangement is called “joint custody.” Or legal custody can be the right and obligation of only one parent. This arrangement is called “sole custody.”
Oregon courts will not award joint custody unless both parents agree to it. If the parties do not agree to joint custody, then from the court’s perspective, one parent will be awarded sole custody, and the other parent will be awarded parenting time. When parents cannot agree who will have sole custody of their children, the court will determine that based on the following:
Which parent is and has been the child’s primary caretaker? And is that parent is fit to now be awarded custody?
What is the emotional connection between the child and other family members?
What is and has been each parent’s interest in and attitude towards the child?
Is there a history of abuse or neglect that the child may have suffered due to one or both parents?
How willing is each parent to encourage and support a healthy relationship between the child and the other parent?
Parenting time is the actual physical time that a child spends with each parent. If the parents cannot agree on parenting time, then Oregon courts decide what is best for the child based on the following:
The child’s age.
The child’s emotional and psychological development.
The current and past history of caregiving provided to the child by each parent.
All custody or divorce judgments in Oregon require that a parenting plan be included.
A good parenting plan is always centered on the needs of your children, as well as your family’s lifestyle. Such parenting plans typically include a weekly or bi-weekly schedule for each parent with the child, and a schedule for sharing summers, holidays, and school breaks. A parenting plan may also address other details, such as exchanging and transporting the children, how parents will communicate with the children and each other, and any other issues that you and your partner think are important for your family.
A carefully crafted plan allows both parents to provide support and stability for their children, as well as minimize with each other. I can help you create a parenting plan that works for your family, and that helps prevents future conflicts from becoming full-blown battles.
You can find more information on custody and parenting plans here.