Sellwood Office Location
Our office is located in the Sellwood neighborhood of Southeast Portland. Call us at any time to schedule a free consultation.
OREGON CHILD CUSTODY LAWS
How do Oregon courts decide the custody of children? How do Oregon courts decide visitation or parenting time schedules?
Child Custody is often confusing and frightening to parents facing a separation or divorce. Absolutely no one wants to "lose custody" of their children so it is important to know that legal custody is not the same as parenting time.
When a parent has legal custody of a child, this means that they have the final authority in making important decisions such as where the child will go to school, which doctors the child will see, what kind of religious training they might have, and so on. Parents can share joint legal custody if they are up for it and we strongly recommend to all parents that they pursue this option first and foremost. However, many parents are divorcing or separating because they don't get along well and they may frequently and strongly disagree on these important issues.
As a result, Oregon courts must award sole legal custody to one parent or another when the parents cannot agree to joint legal custody. This is a difficult and bitter pill for the non-custodial parent to swallow, but both parents must understand that legal custody in no way affects the rights of a non-custodial parent to have "parenting time".
Every Oregon child custody case resolves with a court-ordered Parenting Plan. This plan lays out the schedule for the child, defining which days will be spent with which parent, provisions for drop-off and pick-up, provisions about school and holidays, things like that. The parent with legal custody cannot unilaterally modify this plan, which is a common misconception. This plan is a court order and it is enforceable by Circuit Court judges. These plans can only be modified by petitioning the court for a change due to a substantial change in circumstances.
At The DiCicco Law Firm, we strongly favor parents attempting to resolve custody and parenting time issues outside of the courthouse through mediation and other alternative dispute resolution services. In the event that the issue cannot be resolved amicably, then we will recommend that both parents submit to a Custody and Parenting Time Evaluation performed by a licensed expert. These experts spent time with your family and provide the court with an assessment of what they believe to be in the best interests of the children. Courts routinely adopt these recommendations and they are well-respected by the Oregon Family Law community.
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we cannot resolve a custody and parenting time dispute out of court. This is where our skill as Oregon Civil Litigators is going to serve you well. Read more below, or just call us up if you'd like to talk. We're friendly and available for free consultations.
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OREGON PARENTING TIME / VISITATION
Parenting Plans in Oregon
Every case involving the custody and parenting time of minor children in Oregon requires the parents to attend a mandatory parent education class and a mandatory mediation session. Your separation or divorce is going to seriously impact your children in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. The parenting class gives you some helpful tips on what to expect in your children during this process and how best to minimize negative impacts during this difficult time.
Parenting Plans do not come in a one-size-fits-all format. Every family is unique, and what makes sense for each family depends on the age of the children, their school schedules, and parental work schedules. For school-age children, it is common that kids spent every other weekend with the non-custodial parent as well as a regular mid-week visit after school. For younger children it is not uncommon for a child to spent more frequent overnights with the non-custodial parent.
50/50 parenting plans are less common because many Family Law practitioners, including the Family Law Judges, view this parenting schedule as too difficult on the children. Many fathers in particular want this kind of week-on / week-off parenting plan and we can tell you right now that this is an unlikely outcome in most cases. We generally will decline to bring this kind of case to trial because we don't want you to end up disappointed and poorer for it.
Ultimately, kids need a plan that is easy to remember and minimizes transitions between households. The more going back and forth there is, the less a child is going to feel like they have a stable home. The toughest and bravest thing parents can do is to commit to a reasonable parenting schedule that allows both parents to see the kids every week, but provides the kids with some predictable stability as to where they're laying their heads at night.
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OREGON CHILD SUPPORT
How much child support should I expect to pay or receive?
Child support is perhaps one of the most straightforward facets of Family Law. Once the attorneys have determined the monthly incomes and expenses of the parents, the numbers are run through the Oregon Child Support Calculator. This produces a "Guidelines" support amount, which can sometimes be modified by extenuating circumstances not captured in the calculator.
Parents, often fathers, can sometimes be surprised by how much they might have to pay. We have seen many fathers angry at having to pay their ex money. If you're a Dad and you're reading this right now, let's take a moment to break down what child support is and where it's going.
One of the biggest factors in the child support calculator is the number of overnights a parent has with a child in his or her home. Oregon laws used to provide an increase in payments to a parent that had the child 75% or more of the time, but that has since been eliminated because attorneys and parents would often go to court arguing over a couple of weeks of parenting time when they were really there arguing over money.
Overnights cause the amount paid to go up because food, electricity, and water all cost money. That's really all there is to it. When the kids are at Mom's house, Mom's gotta feed 'em. When they're at Dad's house, Dad's gotta feed 'em. Everybody has to buy diapers and toilet paper and formula and snacks and so on and so forth. It costs money to have kids living at your house.
Child care is also a huge expense. In Portland, one kid in full-time day care costs at least $1,500 per month. The non-custodial parent has to pay their share of this fee in child support, plain and simple. It sucks, it's expensive, no one likes paying for it but we all have to work and we all need someone to watch our kids while we do it.
Finally, health care coverage is an absolute necessity for your kids. It also costs and arm and a leg. There's nothing to be done about. That gets rolled up in the child support calculator and it is what it is.
Our recommendation to all parents, whether paying or receiving child support, is to accept that raising kids from two different households is more expensive than raising them in one. Parents should try to find compassion for one another and work together as much as possible to keep things streamlined.
If a parent does not pay their court-ordered child support then serious consequences can follow, including quasi-criminal prosecution that can see a parent sent to jail. Child support can be modified if financial circumstances change. Parents who can not afford to pay their obligations due to a financial change should seek assistance immediately, as nothing tolls the obligation to pay except filing a request for a re-calculation with the courts.
For all of these issues we can help guide you to a good outcome. We look forward to talking with you and always provide free consultations.
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