What is Custody?

Custody is the legal responsibility for the primary care of a child under the age of 18. In other words, custody is the right to make major decisions about the child. Some examples of major decisions include:

  • Choosing where the child will live
  • Making decisions about the child’s schooling
  • Managing the child’s healthcare

In Oregon, custody differs from parenting time—some other states refer to “parenting time” as “visitation.” Parenting time is the legal ability to spend time around the child. Both custody and parenting time can be shared between the parties. If custody is shared, it is called joint custody. If custody is not shared, it is called sole custody.

Joint Custody

If the parties are awarded joint custody, each parent shares the decision-making responsibilities for the child. Joint custody will only be ordered if the parties agree to the terms and conditions of the order. If one or both of the parties do not agree to joint custody, the court will decide which party has sole custody.

A joint custody order can work for co-parents that agree on what is best for their child. If you and your co-parent have been able to work together in the past, then you may want to consider joint custody.

Sole Custody

If a party is awarded sole custody, that party has the sole responsibility for making all major decisions about the child. Sole custody can occur when one of the parties objects to joint custody. However, the objecting parent may not always receive custody of the child. There can be a risk to requesting sole custody, so be sure to check in with yourself about whether joint or sole custody is right for your family.

See our blog post for more information on how Oregon courts decide which parent will have sole custody.

Rights of the Non-Custodial Parent

Even though one party is awarded sole custody, the other party still holds some rights regarding the child. The rights include:

  • To inspect and receive school records
  • To consult with school staff concerning the child’s welfare and education
  • To inspect and receive governmental records concerning the child
  • To consult with any person who may provide care or treatment for the child
  • To inspect and receive the child’s medical, dental and psychological records

Need Help?

Do you have questions about issues of custody or parenting time? The Commons Law Center can help! Give us a call at 503-850-0811 to set up a meeting with an attorney.

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

posted May 22, 2020

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