Protecting the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of a child is the most important part of establishing child custody. For Pacific Northwest family law, several complex factors can contribute to the custody decision. Our experienced attorneys at Warren Allen can help navigate the legal requirements for a child custody agreement.
Below is a helpful guide on the types of child custody arrangements, the factors that affect custody decisions, and how an attorney can help you determine the right action plan.
Types of Child Custody
There are two types of custody arrangements established in Oregon law. The first is called joint custody, which can be a confusing term. Joint custody simply means that both parents share equal responsibility for the decisions made for a child, even when the child lives primarily with one parent.
Joint custody might look like a child lives with one parent during the school year and the other during summer. It might also mean that a child lives with a parent one week and the other during the opposite week. Some agreements might have the child with one parent during the week, and the other on weekends and holidays. For the courts to grant a joint custody arrangement, both parties need to agree on the arrangement’s terms.
The second is called sole custody. This means that one parent will be the designated primary parent and make all the decisions regarding the care of the child. Sole custody can happen when parents don’t agree to a joint custody plan or the court determines it is better for a child to remain with one parent.
Both parents will almost always have the right to access the child’s school, medical, dental, police, and counseling records and authorize emergency medical care if necessary. However, certain factors affect the court’s decision on what type of child custody is awarded and if there are any restrictions on the parents.
Factors that Affect Child Custody
The primary factor that affects most child custody scenarios is the parents themselves. If parents are already agreeable to an arrangement, this eases the process immensely. If that is not an option, the court will consider several factors to develop a custody agreement.
The judge will use the information presented to determine what is in the best interest of the child. They will consider things like who the primary caregiver has been. If the child needs physical and mental accommodations, that is another consideration. The court will also consider the child’s preference of which parent they want to live with. The strength of family relationships with other family members is also another consideration.
The fitness of each parent and their ability to offer a safe and stable home is considered. Whether or not each parent has taken an interest in the child or children, their attitude towards the child and maintaining a relationship is another factor. Whether each parent is encouraging and facilitating a close relationship with the other parent can affect the outcome of a custody agreement.
The court will also consider if there has been abuse by the parent to either the child or the other parent. The court also considers any evidence of a history of substance abuse, crime, or violence. The court will also look at a parent’s lifestyle, marital status, income, or social environment and consider if adequate child care is in place when the parent is at work.
If any of these is determined to be harmful to the child, they can be factors in determining custody. The court may order supervised visits and potentially give sole custody to one of the parents if it feels it’s in the child’s best interest.
How An Attorney Can Find the Right Plan
It’s essential to have a Pacific Northwest family law attorney to help you navigate the legal complexities the court requires while coming up with a plan that works for you and your child. Even if both parties agree, it’s important to have an experienced attorney look for potential issues that may come up. When the parties don’t agree, you’ll need an attorney to ensure your rights and your child’s rights aren’t violated.
The courts require a parenting plan to be a part of the process for determining child custody. The parenting plan helps parents determine the physical, mental, and emotional needs of the child or children. It will also outline the time each parent will spend with their child, known as “parenting time.”
Parenting time is also used to determine any child support. The plan outlines who makes decisions, the weekly schedule, vacation and holiday schedules, how parents will exchange their children from one home to the other, and will clearly delineate other decisions and obligations both parents agree to.
Having an attorney oversee this process can help ensure you’re not missing vital information the court will require or mistakingly agreeing to something you didn’t have to agree to.
Unfortunately, there are too many instances where this situation is tense and strenuous. Having an attorney will help you know your rights, file for temporary parenting plans if necessary, and help ensure that you are not breaking any laws. If the situation is unsafe for you or your child, knowing what protections are available to you and how to access them is important. A good family law attorney is there to help you gather the information that the court will need, navigate these difficult situations, and develop the right action plan. Navigating a child custody agreement can be one of the most challenging and emotional times for parents and children. Our experienced family law attorneys at Warren Allen are here to help and guide you with our extensive knowledge and solid experience. Schedule a consultation with us today to help you navigate the best outcome for you and your child.