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How Child Custody is Determined in Oregon

Published October 14, 2020
When it comes to divorce, child custody negotiations can be hard to navigate. It’s helpful to understand how a judge determines a fair child custody plan that serves the child’s best interests. Speaking to an experienced family lawyer can give you the support and reassurance you need.

Determining child custody arrangements can be one of the most challenging aspects of a divorce. As a parent, it’s natural to want to spend as much time with your child as possible, but it’s important to recognize that children do best when they are able to enjoy quality time with both parents after a divorce. Although you and your ex may be able to negotiate a fair child custody agreement, the judge will have the final say in determining whether the custody plan protects your child’s best interests. So, what factors does the court take into consideration when evaluating whether a child custody plan is truly equitable? It can be helpful to familiarize yourself with a judge’s process of establishing a fair custody agreement that protects your child’s future.

Ensuring Your Child’s Well-Being

Even if you and your ex are preparing new, independent futures, it’s natural that you both want what is best for your child. However, defining your child’s “best interests” can be subjective—especially if you have slightly different views on parenting. For instance, you may believe that it’s in your child’s best interest to remain at the same school, with the same peers and teacher, to maintain consistency. Your ex may believe that moving the child to a school that is closer to extended family or cousins is a better option. This is why a judge has the authority to step in and objectively assess the situation, eventually making an informed decision on what is ultimately best for the child. While no two custody cases are identical, there are similar patterns that a judge will look for to ensure that the child receives the care and attention they deserve in order to thrive.

Exploring a Range of Representatives

When a judge is looking at your family’s situation, a number of factors will be taken into account. Of course, the judge will listen to the wishes of both parents, giving each parent the opportunity to express their vision for where and with whom the child will reside. Depending on the age of the child, the judge may ask the child to weigh in; however, it’s important to recognize that a child’s preference is not the sole factor in determining child custody arrangements. A judge will consider the child’s wishes as one of many factors that influence the final decision. Additionally, the judge will look at the current quality of the relationship between the child and each parent, as well as the physical and mental health of both parents. Does each parent have the capacity to provide a safe and nurturing home environment for the child? Which child has assumed most of the childcare responsibilities before the divorce? Does one parent travel often for work? These questions, among many others, will be used to determine the specifics of the final custody arrangement.

Preparing For a Bright Future

It’s understandable that you may have concerns about how your child will adjust to their new life after the divorce is finalized. Try to remember that a judge strives to support you and your child as best as possible and that allowing your child to spend quality time with the other parent is essential in fostering a secure and well-rounded child. Ultimately, you and your child will be able to adjust to your post-divorce lives, and your child will still feel connected to both parents—even when you and your ex have drifted apart to focus on your own lives. As child custody matters can be emotionally challenging to navigate, it’s worth it to work with a compassionate family law attorney during the process to ensure that you feel supported and empowered from start to finish.


Reach out to Lee Tyler Family Law, P.C. today to discuss your child custody matter. Call our Portland office at (503) 233-8868 to get started.

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