I have a 9 month old with a man I am not together with. I have lived in Oregon for 4 years and gone to California on and off. Had the baby in Oregon. He wants me to stay in California all year around so he can see our son all the time. I have family in Oregon, work in Oregon and a house in Oregon...I also have a condo in Los Angeles. I offered to stay in California for 6 months/year but that is not good enough for him. He also works 50-60 hours a week and I am just wondering what kind of custodial arrangement a judge could possibly grant knowing how much he works...do they take that into consideration. I am just concerned that they will say I can have our son in Oregon for the school year and then be required to bring him to his father in California for the whole summer.
Generally, the law says that judges must give custody according to what is in the best interest of the child. Judges look at the children’s health, safety and well being to decide whether to give custody to one or both parents. Courts also consider any history of abuse by one or both of the parents.
Courts do not automatically give custody to the mother or the father, no matter what the age or sex of your children. Courts cannot deny a parent’s right to custody or visitation just because they were never married to the other parent, or because they or the other parent has a physical disability, or a different lifestyle, religious belief or sexual orientation.
To decide what is best for a child, the court will consider:
the age of the child, (yours is very young)
the health of the child,
the emotional ties between the parents and the child,
the ability of the parents to care for the child, (Dad has crazy work hours)
history of family violence and/or substance abuse, and
the child’s ties to school, home, and his or her community.
At this point, given your residence in Oregon, an Oregon court will have jurisdiction to make custody and visitation orders for your child. Do not move to California unless you believe it is in the best interest of your child to do so. However, once you have established a custody and visitation order in Oregon, you can ask California to enforce it whenever your child is here.
There are two kinds of "custody" orders:
Legal custody, which means to who makes important decisions for your children (health care, education, and welfare), and
Physical custody, which means who your children live with.
“Visitation” (also called “time-share”) is the plan for how the parents will share time with the children.
In California, either parent can have custody, or the parents can share custody. The judge makes the final decision about custody and visitation but usually will approve the arrangement both parents agree on.
If the parents can't agree, the judge will make a decision at a court hearing. The judge will usually not make a decision about custody/visitation until after the parents have met with a mediator from Family Court Services.
Legal custody can be:
Joint, where both parents share the right and responsibility to make important decisions about the health, education and welfare of the children.
Sole, where only one parent has the responsibility to make the important decisions about the health, education and welfare of the children.
Some examples of the decisions or choices parents with legal custody make are:
school or childcare
religious activities or institutions
psychiatric, psychological, or other mental health counseling or therapy needs
doctor, dentist, orthodontist, or other health professional (except in emergency situations)
sports, summer camp, vacation, or extracurricular activities
where to live
Physical custody can be:
Joint, which means that the children live with both parents.
Sole or primary, which means the children live with one parent most of the time and usually visit the other parent.
Sometimes, a judge gives parents joint legal custody, but not joint physical custody. This means both parents have share the responsibility in making important decisions in the children’s lives. But, the children live with one parent most of the time. The parent who does not have physical custody usually has visitation with the children.
You should consult with a local attorney about establishing an original order.
Best of luck to you.
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There are many factors that the court must consider, so to give a more precise answer, I would need much more information. However, assuming that neither of you have problems that a court would consider serious, such as drug abuse, then it is not likely that a court would give custody of a child that young to someone who works as much as this father does. When a child is as young as your baby, the courts tend to give the non-custodial parent frequent, short visits. If you are willing to spend half of the year in L.A., the court would find that suggestion very attractive and might consider that plus having the father visit in Oregon during the time of year that you were there. Don't worry now about what the court might do in 5 years when your baby is in school.
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