Child Custody Focused on a Better Tomorrow

Portland Child Custody Attorneys

Serving Families in Our Community with Genuine Care & Concern

When facing all the pivotal decisions that come with divorce and the end of a relationship, many parents find themselves most concerned with protecting their children and ensuring that they have as much time with them as possible. Mothers and fathers understandably worry about maintaining control and sustaining the most important relationships in their lives. In other situations, changes after divorce call for a parenting time or child custody modification that must be approved by the court.

Standing your ground on the time you want with your kids does not have to cause your legal costs to spiral out of control. Our Portland child custody lawyers at Pacific Cascade Family Law, emphasize negotiation and mediation in order to reach agreement on these all-important issues, but if that is not possible, we are prepared to fight for your custody and parenting time goals in court.

Contact a Portland child custody lawyer at Pacific Cascade Family Law by dialing (503) 573-5566 for a phone consultation.

What Is Custody in Oregon?

A common misconception people often make about custody is that it equates to the amount of time you’ll see your children. This is not true in Oregon. Custody, also called legal custody, refers to a parent’s authority to make decisions on behalf of their child regarding medical needs, schooling, and some religious practices. So, while legal custody does give authority to a parent to make big decisions regarding certain lifestyles of their child, it doesn’t determine the amount of time each parent will get to spend with the child.

When married, each parent has equal authority in making decisions on behalf of their child. As spouses, you’re expected to work together to come to decisions on what is best for your child as a team. When going through a divorce, and in turn changing the family unit dynamic, the issue of which parent has the authority to make the big or hard decisions for their child needs to be clarified so that their needs can be met and handled promptly.

For example, say your child has Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). You notice he or she is falling behind in school, and the doctor recommends they start taking a form of medication, such as Adderall, to help with certain behavioral issues. Which parent has the authority to make the decision to put the child on medication? It’s situations like these that shed light on the importance of having established custody.

Legal vs. Physical Custody

Having legal custody means that you have the legal right to make major decisions about your child’s welfare and upbringing. These decisions can relate to education, religious upbringing, medical care, and more. Whereas physical custody refers to where the child lives. Both legal and physical custody can be sole or joint.

Joint vs. Sole Custody

There are two possible outcomes when it comes to custody in Oregon. First, the parents can agree that they will share custody which is called joint custody. Joint custody is only available if both parents agree; Family Law Courts do not have the authority to award joint legal custody. Second, one of the parents can have sole custody of the kids. Either the parents can agree on which parent will have sole custody or the court can order which parent will have sole custody of the kids.

There are important legal implications of joint vs. sole custody—both in day to day co-parenting and in future legal disputes that may arise over custody. Therefore, the decision of whether to agree to joint legal custody or to ask for sole legal custody should be made with the help of a knowledgeable Portland child custody lawyer.

How is Custody Determined in Oregon?

If you’re an involved parent who’s going through divorce, there’s no doubt that arranging a favorable child custody or parenting-time plan is at the forefront of your mind. Splitting time with your child is a difficult adjustment, and most parents want to ensure that, despite their divorce, their time and relationship with their child doesn’t change drastically. The court’s primary concern is the welfare of your child, and there are a few factors they will consider when determining custody arrangements.

The Parent Who Historically Has Been and Can Continue to be a Primary Caregiver

A judge will consider which parent has been, and who’s schedule will continue to allow them to be, the primary caregiver for the child. These duties include things like feeding, bathing, transporting to school and events, making appointments—the everyday tasks that keep your child healthy emotionally, physically and socially. If one parent has a work schedule or other obligations that keeps them away from home due to long hours and thus prohibits them from being an effective or willing caregiver, the court may not see them as a suitable primary custodian. This decision is not based on the emotional desires of a parent to be a caretaker, but rather their practical ability to be available and an effective custodial parent. Of course, this doesn’t mean a parent can’t work and win sole or joint custody; rather, the court wants to see that you prioritize your child amidst other obligations, and are willing to integrate them into your schedule.

Emotional Ties Between a Child and Their Parents/ The Interest Each Parent Has Towards the Child

Which parent does the child rely on and gravitate towards for their emotional needs? The more quality time a parent spends with their child and provides for them, the more bonded a child will be to them. In line with emotional ties, the court will also consider the interest and attitude that each parent demonstrates towards the child, a factor that inevitably will affect bonding and emotional connection. How invested are you in knowing and spending time with your child? Do you know their struggles, their victories, their friends, their favorite foods, and how they’re fairing in school? Do you make consistent efforts to spend quality time with your child and provide them with a rich childhood? A judge will consider these details when determining a parent’s investment and interest.

A Parent’s Willingness to Facilitate a Healthy Relationship Between the Child and the Other Parent

Most courts will consider a parent’s ability to orchestrate a healthy and continuing relationship between their child and their ex. Remember: an unfit spouse does not equate to an unfit parent. You may not be fond of your ex, but unless there’s child abuse or domestic violence involved, it’s typically in the child’s best interest to have a thriving relationship with both parents. If you have a history of trying to sabotage that relationship or deface your child’s good opinion of your ex, the court will take note.

DUI Arrests & Child Custody

When it comes to child custody cases, the court’s primary concern, and the driving force that will influence their decisions, is the well-being of the child involved. Above all else, the court’s concern that is that the custody terms are made with the best interest of the child in mind. Therefore, if you are in the midst of a custody battle, or have custody of your child, and you are arrested for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants, the judge will assess the situation through the lens of the well-being of the child in question.

If You’re In The Midst a Custody Battle
During a custody battle, you should be prepared to have your life and actions examined. A judge will be looking into your life, your current actions, and your schedule to determine who is better suited to make decisions on behalf of the child. In Oregon, custody allows you the legal right to make decisions for the child in regard to medical care, schooling, and religion. A judge will look to any bad decision and ask if this is a safety concern for the child. If you have been arrested for a DUII, that will be a factor for the judge to consider awarding custody to the other parent, especially if the child was in the vehicle at the time, or it’s a repeat offense.

If You Already Have Custody
If you have already been awarded custody, the standard to flip custody from one parent to another is more complex, and requires a drastic change in circumstances. The other parent has to prove — to the legal standard — that you are no longer capable of managing the responsibility of custody.
While a DUII arrest may not be enough to change custody to the other parent, it could provide them with enough evidence to open up a case against you.

A DUII has the power to change your life in a moment, and not just in regard to custody. It may affect your job, relationships with friends and family, or be the sign of a larger problem. If you are arrested for a DUII, it is important to surround yourself with the right team of professionals, including counselors, an experienced law firm and a strong support system. When you work with the right people to address the underlying issue, this could positively affect several sectors of your life, including custody. If you have been arrested for a DUII, or have questions about custody rights, we encourage you to contact our experienced team at Pacific Cascade Law.

Compassionate, Practical Legal Guidance for Oregon Fathers & Mothers

There is no substitute for accurate legal guidance from a child custody attorney on an issue that is so emotionally loaded and surrounded by so many misconceptions as child custody.

Some key points we can discuss include:

  • How the court's obligation to protect the best interests of the child should influence your approach to divorce and custody goals
  • The distinction between legal custody-entitling a parent to a voice in decision making regarding children-and parenting time orders, which determine where children primarily live
  • The relationship between custody orders and child support
  • What can be accomplished through creative, resourceful development of parenting plans to best accommodate one parent's role as a "noncustodial" father or mother
  • Whether a joint custody order is appropriate, given that it must be agreed to by both parents

Driving for Positive Results: That's Our Commitment at Pacific Cascade Family Law.

Our Portland custody attorneys understand the stress you feel and how devastating the thought of giving up time with your children may be for you. You can count on our compassionate and experienced Portland family law firm to put your goals first and strive to get you the best possible results. Whether you must decide how to approach custody in your divorce, are an unmarried parent with a need to protect your parental rights, or want to pursue a post-divorce modification, we can provide the counsel and advocacy you need, beginning with a phone consultation.

Contact Pacific Cascade Family Law at (503) 573-5566 to speak with a skilled child custody lawyer in Portland today.

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