When parties going through a divorce cannot agree on which parent is to have custody of the parties’ children, the judge makes the decision. The judge strives to determine what is in the children’s best interests. Oregon law specifies six factors a judge will examine in making a custody decision:
- The judge considers the emotional ties between the child and other family members. For example, a child may have a close relationship with a grandparent.
- The judge looks at the interest of the parents in and attitude toward the child. A judge will look favorably upon a close parent-child relationship. A parent should show how they consider the best interests of their children.
- The judge considers the desirability of continuing an existing relationship.
- The judge will take into consideration the abuse of one parent by the other.
- The judge will take note of the preference for the primary caregiver of the child if the judge finds the caregiver is fit to parent. One parent may spend more time in nurturing the child.
- The judge will look at the willingness and ability of each parent to encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child. A parent who alienates their child against the other parent may jeopardize their parenting time.
Knowing what a judge will consider in making a custody determination should guide a parent in their conduct during a divorce.