Putting a legal end to marriage takes a basic understanding of the elements that go into the process. If you and your spouse have children, the stakes are higher. 

A commonly misunderstood component of divorce is child custody. While you may have a concept of this, you may not know the crucial differences. Discover how Oregon courts handle custody and getting the best resolution for your children. 

Joint or sole custody 

You believe custody has to do with where a child lives. While this is true in part, custody in the eyes of the law is much more. When a parent has custody, it means he or she can make decisions regarding the health and welfare of the children, including: 

  • Medical treatment 
  • Religious teachings 
  • Educational curriculum 
  • Primary residence 

While there is an element of residence involved in custody, it is more about legal authority over the children. The two types of legal custody are joint and sole. In a sole custody situation, the court finds one parent suitable to make legal decisions. Joint custody means both parents share equally in the legal obligations the children demand and have equal authority for making decisions. In Oregon, the court cannot grant joint custody unless both parents agree to it. 

Considerations in determining custody 

When deciding custody of children, the court looks at a few factors. First and foremost, it considers what is in the child’s best interests. This way of thinking is the standard around the country in custody decisions. Other elements include things like the parent’s bond with the children, the parents’ criminal record and each parent’s ability to foster a positive relationship with the other. 

Visitation and custody differences 

One thing to note is custody and parenting time are two different concepts. Joint custody does not mean that the children stay 50% of the time with each parent. Conversely, sole custody does not mean that the other parent can never see the children. A parenting plan is a schedule on which the couple must agree before the court grants dissolution. 

Getting help navigating a custody and divorce proceeding may make the process smoother than going through it alone.