Helping individuals in custody and visitation matters in Central and Eastern Oregon

Custody and Visitation

At Phillips & Moore, LLP, we recognize that child custody and parenting time schedules are the biggest concern for many clients. We will help you to create a custody and parenting plan best suited for your family and negotiate on your behalf to reach an agreed-upon plan.

Factors in Custody Award

In Oregon, the court makes decisions on child custody and parenting time based on what it believes is in the best interests of the children. The court takes into account a number of factors in making this decision. In addition to protecting the children's health, safety and welfare, a custody arrangement must encourage frequent and continuing contact with both parents, unless there has been a history of child abuse or domestic violence.

Joint and Sole Custody

Parents may choose to share joint custody. However, Oregon courts cannot order an award of joint custody. An award of sole custody gives the custodial parent primary authority over medical, education and religious decisions.

Modification of Custody and Parenting Time Orders

Because of Oregon's interest in the welfare of minor children, the court always has jurisdiction to make or change custody and parenting time orders after a divorce is finalized. In fact, changes to custody agreements are quite common as children become older and families change.

In determining modification, the court will determine whether there has been a substantial change in circumstances that so affects the child that modification is necessary to the child's welfare.

Such changes in circumstances include (but are not limited to):

  • Change/proposed change in residence of one of the parents. (This may require a motion for a "move-away order")
  • The desire of an older child to increase or decrease parenting time
  • Alteration of the child's school schedule
  • A change in the relationship between the child and the parent

Custody and Parenting Time Evaluations

If the parents are unable to agree to a custody arrangement, typically the parents will agree to, or the court will order, a custody evaluation. A custody evaluation is performed by a psychologist or other mental health professional. Typically, the custody evaluator will evaluate both parents' proposed custody proposals. A typical custody evaluation will process in several states and over a period of time (typically three months, but sometimes longer and sometimes shorter.) It is common, though not necessarily obligatory, that the evaluation process includes the following parts:

  • Interviews of parents
  • Interviews of the children
  • Observation of parent/children interaction/home visits
  • Psychological testing of the parents
  • Interview of third parties, such as family friends, teachers and doctors
  • Review of reports and documents (e.g., academic school records)

Courts generally place great weight on the custody evaluation and recommendations. Therefore, it is essential to work with an attorney who understands the evaluation process and properly helps you in preparing for it. Phillips and Moore, LLP, helps you prepare for the custody evaluation, from negotiating for a specific evaluator, to explaining the process, and to coaching you on how to proceed during the evaluation.