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The basics of child custody statutes in Oregon

In a divorce, one of the most contentious issues that family members and their attorneys face is who will have custody of the children and under what terms. To better understand what the process and outcome might be, here are some basic statutes that apply to custody cases in Salem and throughout the state of Oregon.

Mothers and fathers have equal rights. Under Oregon custody laws, both parents are viewed as having equal rights. What matters most to the courts is what is in the best interests of the child.

Legal custody gives one or both parents the rights to make decisions regarding how a child is raised, including what schools they will attend, what kind of medical care they will receive, and where they will live. A judge will order joint custody only if both parents agree to joint custody. In the event the parents cannot agree, the court must choose one parent to have sole legal custody of a child. Many factors are examined in deciding which parent will be awarded sole legal custody. Some factors include which parent has been the child’s primary caregiver, drug abuse or domestic violence history. The parent who is not awarded legal custody is known as the non-custodial parent.

Physical custody, or which parent a child lives with, is called parenting time. A parent who has more parenting time than the other parent is known as the primary physical custodian. In most Oregon counties, parents are required to go through mediation to come up with a parenting plan and to determine whether the parents agree to joint custody or one parent having sole custody. The parenting plan spells out custody, visitation rights, and other terms involved in raising a child.

If mediation is not successful, then a judge will make a custody decision and create a parenting plan in the best interests of the child. The judge will also determine how much child support one parent may be required to pay to the other parent.

Johnson & Taylor Law proudly serves Marion, Polk, Linn, Yamhill and other surrounding Oregon counties.

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