Understanding Custody for Unmarried Parents in Oregon

Understanding Rights & Custody for Unmarried Parents

In Oregon, laws concerning custody and parenting time treat unmarried parents the same way as married parents. ORS 109.103. However, unmarried parents must first follow specific steps to establish a father's legal rights and responsibilities. This blog post explores pathways for unmarried parents in Oregon to establish parentage, make custody decisions, and arrange child support.

Establishing Parentage for Unmarried Parents

If parents are unmarried when their child is born, the mother gets sole legal custody by default. Fathers can secure their parental rights only by “establishing parentage." ORS 109.065. There are several ways to establish parentage in Oregon. Provided the Mother is unmarried, it is often done shortly after the birth of a child by filling out a form called a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit. Once both parents sign and notarize this form and file it with Oregon Vital Records, a biological Father's paternal rights and responsibilities are formalized. 
If the parents disagree on paternity, either can initiate the process to establish parentage with court filings or through Oregon's Child Support Program, even without the other party's consent. If requested through the state, the other parent has 30 days to request genetic testing for confirmation of paternity. Failure to request testing within 30 days leads to legally established paternity, giving both parents equal rights and responsibilities similar to those in a marriage.
Establishing parentage is an essential step in obtaining a court order for custody related issues and ensures fair treatment in custody matters for married and unmarried parents alike. After establishing paternity, either parent can petition for custody, parenting time, and child support.

Who Gets Custody?

Regardless of marital status, Oregon courts prioritize the child's best interests when determining legal custody. Courts consider many different factors in deciding what is best for the child. If you or someone you know is dealing with custody-related matters, our experienced family law attorney may be able to provide the guidance you need if you fill out our family law intake form.

What About Child Support?

Child support arrangements in Oregon apply similarly to both married and unmarried parents. The custodial parent, who is established by the parenting plan's overnights and primary caregiving role, typically receives child support. Oregon uses a formula to calculate child support, considering things like parental incomes, parenting time, health insurance, and more. This formula ensures fairness and consistency in the judgments made. 

The Commons Law Center Can Help You

In Oregon, unmarried parents have the legal right to establish custody and stay involved in their children's lives. After establishing parentage, Oregon laws treat married and unmarried couples similarly. In custody matters, courts prioritize the child's best interests. Understanding the legal process and the factors considered by the courts can help unmarried parents effectively navigate custody issues. 
At The Commons Law Center, our experienced family law attorneys assist both married and unmarried couples with their family law matters. We understand that going through a family law issue can be stressful and we want to help. If you’re going through an existing family law matter or considering petitioning the court or filing for divorce, let our experienced family law attorneys at the Commons Law Center guide you through the process. Click here to learn more about our affordable family law pay-as-you-go coaching program and to fill out our family law intake form to get started with legal coaching services!

The Commons Law Center Blog is for information purposes only. It is not legal advice.

posted March 12, 2024

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