In Portland and throughout Oregon, the end of a relationship is a complicated time for everyone involved. This can be especially challenging if there are children whether the parents were married or not. One of the most frequent catalysts for dispute in a family law case is child custody. Even in cases where the parents are on relatively cordial terms, it can quickly spiral into dispute and acrimony. An extensive court battle can cause many problems and it is beneficial if this can be avoided. It is imperative that the parents be fully protected by having experienced legal advice.
Factors the court considers and the child’s preferences
A key aspect of a child custody case is how the court decides on custody matters. An understated aspect is the child’s preferences and how that plays into the determination. Having a basic understanding of these issues is a fundamental part of a case. In the case, the judge will conduct an analysis based on the child’s best interests. That could conflict with what the parents want.
Considerations include the child’s emotional connection to the rest of the family; the parents’ interests and how they treat the child; the relationship between the child and the parents and if it should continue; if there was abuse; what the primary caregiver wants; and if the parents can put their differences aside for the child’s welfare and maintain a workable relationship.
The child might have a say in the decision. The judge is not required by law to acquiesce to the child’s requests, but it can be weighed. The child’s age is irrelevant, but maturity and the ability to express those preferences in a clear and reasonable way is essential. Some parents might want to avoid having the child testify as it can be emotionally problematic. However, if the child has a preference and can express it, his or her wishes could be a factor in the case.
Legal assistance may be important with child custody
When parents part ways while sharing a child, there will be inevitable concerns. The custody determination is an obvious one. Negotiating an agreement may be the best-case scenario. If that is not achievable, the court will need to decide. Before moving forward, it is wise to have legal advice. Consulting with a firm experienced in family law and child custody can help with a case from the start.