What Is Joint Custody? 

Child custody arrangements give parents a resolution concerning their roles, rights and responsibilities to their child(ren). The goal of child custody is also to provide consistency and stability in the life of a child. Legal and physical custody are the two components of child custody. Physical custody of the child means that the parent has the child living in their home. Legal custody involves making major decisions about the upbringing and guidance of the child. Such decisions include education, health care, religion and parental consent for activities.

Not all child custody cases involve parents who cannot agree on what they want for their child. 

Although the parents are not together, they may still work together to establish a stable and happy environment for their child. In situations involving cooperative co-parenting, the parents may decide to have joint custody of the child. Joint custody is when both parents share decision-making for the child. Joint custody can be joint legal, joint physical, and joint legal and physical custody. 

A child may live with both parents an equal amount of time. However, in joint custody, the child may live with one parent primarily with both parents making legal decisions.

An Oregon court cannot order joint custody unless both parents agree to it. If the parents want to have joint custody, the court has to award it. The judge cannot overrule the joint custody decision and order sole custody to one parent against both parents’ agreement. Although the court cannot overrule joint custody if both parents agree to it, the joint custody may be modified once it is in effect. To modify a joint custody agreement, the party seeking to modify the custody must show:

  • Change of circumstances; and
  • The modification is in the best interest of the child.

The modification may be to the child’s primary residence, the amount of time living at each parent’s home, or even changing the joint custody to a sole custody arrangement. If one or both parents are unable or unwilling to follow the terms of the joint custody agreement, the court constitutes this as a change of circumstances sufficient to modify the agreement.

To learn more about joint custody agreements visit, https://grmfamilylaw.com/.

To schedule a consultation with one of our family law attorneys in Oregon or SW Washington, call us now at 503.222.9116 or write us.

Andrew Newsom

Andrew Newsom

Andy is a partner at Gearing Rackner & McGrath. He has practiced family law exclusively since 2010 and is licensed to practice in Oregon. Andrew has high-level experience in all areas of family law. Although he is stimulated by trial advocacy, his first priority is to provide his clients with creative and efficient solutions without unneeded expense.

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