Child custody, though commonly thought of as being about the amount of time each parent will have with a child after divorce, is actually about decision-making rights. Parenting time is the term used when determining the number of overnights and vacation days each parent spends with their children. Child custody and parenting time disputes are always the most difficult part of a divorce or legal separation. They are also the most important; your children's future will depend on the outcome of your child custody case. Hiring a Eugene custody attorney to guide you through the complex process is the best way to protect yourself and your children. There are few decisions as important during your divorce as who should have custody of your child and have the final say regarding important life decisions. If both you and your spouse agree, the court can award joint custody over a child. Joint custody is defined in Oregon as the sharing of parental decision-making regarding education, health care, religion and where the children live. Sole legal custody means one parent makes all the major decisions regarding the children. It is most common for the children to live with the sole legal custodial parent, but it is not always that way. Courts often award sole legal custody with parents sharing 50% of the parenting time. Regardless of where the children live, both parents have the right to access the children’s school, medical, dental, police and counselor’s records. Both parents can also typically authorize emergency medical care. If you do not agree, child custody will be established by determining what is in the child's best interests, not what is best for you. Determining what is in a child’s best interests necessitates an inquiry into a variety of factors, including statutes (laws), appellate cases interpreting the laws, and administrative rules. ORS 107.137 requires a court to consider the following factors equally when determining child custody:
A parent’s conduct, marital status, income, social environment or lifestyle can also be considered when determining what is in a child’s best interests, but only if it is shown that those factors are causing or may cause emotional or physical damage to the child. There is a presumption (which can be rebutted) that it is not in a child’s best interests to award custody of that child to a parent who has committed domestic abuse.
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