Oregon and Washington laws are designed to protect children and promote their best interests when there is a disagreement between the parents. Each state has laws that describe the factors. Child custody matters are technically divided into two separate legal components: (1) Legal custody, or decision-making authority, and (2) Physical custody, often referred to as “residential” custody, parenting time, placement, or visitation. The best interests of the child are paramount in determination of both legal custody and physical custody. The parents of a child may share joint legal custody, meaning they work together to make major decisions affecting the child’s welfare, or one parent may be designated as the sole legal custodian, which does not require mutual agreement on such issues. Generally speaking, major decisions include educational, non-emergency medical, and religious decisions for the child. Separately, the parents will have physical custody rights in almost all cases – this establishes a schedule where the children will reside and when they will see each parent.
Many local courts have created “standard” or “guideline” parenting plans to assist families, although these guidelines are not mandatory. The parents can work together to create a plan that works best for their family or, if they cannot agree, a court will formulate the details of the plan.A good child custody plan will provide as much detail as possible on any potential issues that may arise. Often, this includes subjects such as vacation planning, information sharing, scheduling of telephone calls, and other practical applications of the plan. Whether you are negotiating a private resolution of child custody matters or are facing a legal contest to determine your child’s best interests, the child custody lawyers in our firm can guide you through the process, explain the law, and represent your interests and those of your child.