At Aurora Law Office, Brendan Enright has over 28 years experience working with divorcing couples to design fair and realistic child custody agreements. More information about Oregon laws regarding Child Support can be found at Oregon Division of Child Support
We provide custom tailored child custody agreements that account for
- Your children’s interests
- Concerns about extra-curricular activities
- Where friends are located
At Aurora Law Office
Child custody is one of the areas where there is the greatest potential for conflict in divorce. However, I am happy to report, it is also the area where I see parties most often working together for the benefit of their children, setting aside the issues that has caused the break down of their marriage.
This is a great issue on which to seek mediation assistance. All county courts have a family court services office, which can give you information on your county’s mediation services. The initial hour or so of mediation is paid for by the county, after which the hourly fee is relatively low and affordable by most families.
Before discussing how custody decisions are made in the court it is important to elaborate on the difference between parenting time and legal custody. Legal custody allows you the power to decide on your child’s educational needs, religious up bringing and medical care. Parenting time is how much time you spend with your child. Most parents are concerned with how often they see their child so their focus is heavily weighted on the parenting plan. The confusion often comes in because the parent who has legal custody usually sees the child most often. But the two are different.
While most courts follow the standard parenting plan of having the child live with the legal custodial parent during the week and the non-custodial parent gets every other weekend from Friday to Sunday parenting time, with dinner on alternating Wednesday evenings, there is nothing sacred about this arrangement. When this arrangement is in place, the parties usually also alternate all of the holidays, so for instance, the non-custodial parent would spend Spring Break with their child every odd year. However, there is nothing set about these parenting time plans and, in unusual circumstances, the court will set extended parenting plans or the parties can agree on a different plan. It is not unusual to have Thursday evening to Monday morning parenting plans. Also, Marion County’s (Salem) standard plan has the non-custodial parent take the child to school on Monday mornings.
Custody is granted to the parent who has the strongest psychological relationship with the child. This usually means the parent who spends the most time with the child. Another way of stating it is, if the court looks at the situation through the eyes of the child, where are they going to better off in the long run, which parent is most likely to enhance their lives and enable them to grow to be fully developed human beings.
Naturally, both parents will feel that it is they who would best fulfill this role. However, the court will take into account the history of parenting during the last year or so of the marriage in answering this question. For this reason abrupt changes or heroic parenting may not repair a course of conduct that shows little or no interest in the child. One technical point of law that is worth mentioning as it comes up often in this area: Oregon judges do not have the legal authority to order joint custody. One person will be awarded custody in Oregon at the end of a contested custody case.
The only other agreement can both parents can be granted is joint custody. Joint custody continues the same legal relationship with regard to the child after the divorce, which the parents enjoyed during the course of the marriage. That means that one parent can veto the other, so that it is necessary to get the permission of the other parent to get a passport for the child, change schools or take the child to a medical practitioner.
I truly would recommend you to anyone that finds themselves facing a divorce. The staff you've assembled around you compliments what you do greatly and your ability to deal with and resolve all issues. So, in conclusion, thank you again, for assisting me through something I hope and pray I'll never have to do again. -Andrew Thornton
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