Oregon law encourages parents to work out custody arrangements themselves without bringing the issue to court. If they cannot come to an agreement, courts make custody decisions based on what is in the "best interest" of the child. 

What Is a Parenting Plan?

Under Oregon law, divorcing parents must have a parenting plan before their divorce will be approved. A parenting plan is a detailed, written agreement that sets out how they will share legal and physical custody of their children. If parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, mediation (a dispute resolution process) may be required. 

What Does the Court Consider in Assigning Custody?

Oregon courts balance a series of factors when determining the best interest of a child.  These factors include:

  • The child’s age, gender, and health,
  • Which parent has been the primary caregiver,
  • The stability of the home environment,
  • The emotional and developmental needs of the child,
  • The physical and mental health of the parents,
  • The parents’ criminal records,
  • The history of contact between the parents and the child,
  • Evidence of child abuse or spousal abuse, and
  • The child’s reasonable preference (if age appropriate).

A parent’s gender is not considered as a factor. Additionally, the court cannot consider a parent’s lifestyle, marital status, or income unless it would harm the child. If there is evidence of abuse, the court will assume that the abuser should not have custody (unless there is evidence to the contrary).

In a custody dispute, a guardian ad litem may be assigned to advocate for the child and help assess his or her best interests. A custody evaluation (performed by a psychologist or counselor) may also be required.

What Happens When the Court Has Made a Decision?

Once the parenting plan and divorce order are signed, they are filed with the court clerk. Both parents are then bound by the approved parenting plan and the court must approve any modification of the plan.  

Should I Contact an Oregon Lawyer Regarding my Custody Issues?

Child custody disputes can be emotionally charged and require a detailed understanding of the law. If you have concerns about custody and parenting time, it is important that you speak with an experienced child custody lawyer. A lawyer will help advocate for you and your child and work to secure the best possible parenting arrangement for your family.