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A Closer Look at Child Custody and Parenting Time in Oregon

Published May 26, 2021
The divorce process requires parents to establish parenting plans that address child custody and parenting time arrangements so that the child’s best interests are protected. Working with a trusted family law attorney to negotiate an equitable parenting plan is highly recommended.

It’s understandable that divorce can be stressful, especially if the marriage involves children. Separating parents are often concerned about how the divorce will affect the children, and they are faced with questions about with whom the children will live and for how long. Let’s take a look at how the aspects of a divorce that impact children, such as custody and parenting time arrangements, are typically handled in Oregon.

Joint Custody vs. Sole Custody in Oregon

When we hear the term “child custody,” many of us assume this refers to the living arrangements of a child following a divorce. For instance, we may think that joint custody means that the child spends an equal amount of time residing with each parent. However, this is a common misconception. The Oregon Judicial Department defines custody as “legal decision making,” meaning that even if a couple shares joint custody over major decision-making responsibilities, the child may still reside solely with one parent.


Both parents must agree to joint custody, or else the judge will not award it. Should one parent object to a joint custody agreement, the judge will determine which parent will assume sole custody of the child. When a parent is awarded sole custody, this means that they are responsible for making all major decisions on behalf of the child.

Parenting Time and Parenting Plans 

Parenting time defines the amount of time the child is under the care of each parent following a divorce. Formerly referred to as “visitation,” parenting time can be established by an agreement between the parents or, in more challenging circumstances, it can be court-ordered.


The parenting plan is included in the terms of the divorce. A parenting plan addresses child custody and parenting time arrangements, specifying the minimum amount of time the child will spend with each parent. The court asks that divorcing parents attempt to negotiate and create a parenting plan, ideally through mediation. Once both parents agree to the plan, the court will review it and make the final decision. In situations where the parents cannot communicate civilly or reach any sort of agreement, the court will step in to ensure the parenting plan is created. Should circumstances change that require the existing parenting plan to be amended or revised, contact a knowledgeable family law attorney to discuss the process of requesting a modification.

Resources to Get Started

For more information about child custody, parenting time, and parenting plans in Oregon, there are some great resources to help you get started. In many cases, speaking to a trusted and compassionate divorce and family law attorney can bring you the peace of mind you crave during this challenging time.


If you and your spouse are exploring the option of obtaining a divorce in the Portland area, the friendly legal team at Lee Tyler Family Law, P.C. is prepared to answer your questions and offer sound guidance. Call (503) 233-8868 today to get started.

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