As a Portland attorney practicing family law, I am often confronted with clients who demand to share joint custody of children with their ex. In Oregon, joint custody can only be awarded when both parties agree to the terms and conditions of a joint custody order. A judge cannot order joint custody over the objections of one of the parents. The reasoning of the Oregon Legislature is that parents with joint custody must be able to agree on virtually every decision affecting the children. If the parents cannot agree to joint custody, they probably will not be able to agree on other things.
Therefore, the most common custody situation is where one parent, known as the “custodial parent” has sole custody, and the other parent, known as the “non-custodial parent” exercises “parenting time.” While the parent with sole custody does make all major decisions regarding the child, such as the child’s religious and educational training, health care and where the child’s primary residence is, parenting time can be split 50-50.
Parents in a custody action are required to create a detailed “parenting plan” that sets forth which parent has the child at what times, as well as each parent’s rights and responsibilities. For more information, see my forthcoming post (anticipated next week) on Oregon parenting plans.
If you are involved in an Oregon custody action or divorce that involves children, be sure to ask your attorney what type of custodial arrangement makes sense in your specific case.