Our Portland Custody Attorney Explains Joint Custody in Oregon

child holding parents legs
When parents can work together for the best interests of their child, they are suitable candidates for joint custody. Oregon custody laws are unique from other states, as a judge will not order joint child custody unless both parents expressly agree. Portland custody lawyer Ronald Allen Johnston believes that both mothers and fathers should have equal opportunities to pursue custody for their children, and joint custody can be beneficial to families if the parents are able to put aside their differences and work together.

What Does Joint Custody Actually Mean?

Many parents do not realize what, exactly, joint custody means. Joint custody is short for joint legal custody, and legal custody refers to which parent has the power to make decisions on behalf of the child. These decisions include a child’s upbringing, schooling, medical directives, religion, extracurricular activities and any other significant matter regarding the child. It also includes minor, day-to-day decisions made for the child.

Joint legal custody does not refer to parenting time spent or scheduled with a child. The award of joint legal custody, as compared to sole legal custody, does not affect how much parenting time a parent receives. The court will create a parenting time schedule based on the legal standard of “best interests of the child,” whether custody is awarded as “sole legal custody” or agreed-upon as “joint legal custody.” Indeed, it is possible for one parent to be awarded sole legal custody and the other be granted liberal parenting time, or both parents agree on joint legal custody award with lesser parenting time to one parent.

As stated above, a court may order joint legal custody only if both parents agree. If parents first agree to joint custody, but then one party changes his or her mind, joint custody must then end.

The court will award child support based on applicable child support guidelines. The amount of support will be based in part on the amount of parenting time that the court awards. An award of joint or sole legal custody does not affect child support.

Our Portland Custody Attorney’s History with Oregon Custody Law

Interestingly, Ronald Allen Johnston was a member of the Oregon State Bar Family Law Section Task Force on Joint Custody in the 1980s, which studied the issue of joint custody. This Task Force proposed legislation, which the legislature adopted and that is still in effect today. Ronald Allen Johnston authored the “minority report” in which he advocated that a trial court should have power to order joint custody over the objection of the other party. Several of the provisions of our child custody laws are based on his experiences and cases. Ronald Allen Johnston has been advising clients on joint custody and negotiating joint custody agreements for over three decades.

To set up a consultation with a Portland family attorney to discuss whether joint custody would suit your family, please contact our firm today.

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