In Oregon and across the United States, one of the most common topics for extended dispute in a family law case centers around children. Child custody is often emotional, contentious and problematic. Even in cases where the parents are on amicable terms, it only takes one minor disagreement about children, custody and parenting time for the parties to be in the middle of a tense argument. From the start, it is wise to be aware of the basics of child custody in the state. That centers on joint custody vs. sole custody, how the determination is made, and how the child’s feelings factor in. Having legal assistance is imperative to be fully protected when dealing with child custody cases.
Understanding joint custody and sole custody
When joint custody is granted, the parents will equally share the decision-making responsibility regarding the child. It is separate from the living arrangements and does not mean the parents share the child 50-50. There can be joint custody in a variety of residential circumstances even if one parent has the child all the time. The parents must both agree to having joint custody. If they do not, it cannot be granted. When the parents do not agree on joint custody, the judge will subsequently decide which parent will be given sole custody. That parent makes all key decisions on the child’s behalf.
The judge will weigh various factors including the child’s relationship with both parents; the parents’ involvement with the child; if the relationship between child and parent is beneficial for the child and should continue; if there was abuse in the relationship; what the main caregiver prefers; and if the parents can have a cordial relationship in adhering to the child’s best interests while fostering a relationship between the child and the other parent. If a child is of sufficient maturity and expresses a preference, the judge may take that into account.
A strong legal advocate can be essential in a child custody case
People who are embroiled in a family law dispute might want their legal representative to tell them only positive things. However, that rarely solves problems. An advocate who is honest and upfront, telling the client what they must hear to achieve something close to the desired result, is beneficial. Child custody can be complex and difficult and having qualified assistance is important. Consulting with a firm that provides experienced and caring legal help can be the difference in a case.