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Child Custody Laws in Oregon

Child Custody Laws in Oregon



Oregon’s child custody laws have seen significant adjustments over the past decade to address the needs of children and parents involved in custody disputes. The following key updates from 2013 to 2023 highlight Oregon’s commitment to modernizing its child custody regulations:

2013 – Child’s Best Interests:

   – Oregon reaffirms the child’s best interests as the primary consideration in custody determinations.

2014 – Parenting Plans Requirement:

   – Introduction of mandatory parenting plans outlining custody arrangements, visitation, and decision-making responsibilities.

2015 – Joint Custody Emphasis:

   – Emphasis on joint custody arrangements to promote the active involvement of both parents.

2016 – Mediation Promotion:

   – Introduction of mediation as an alternative method for resolving custody disputes.

2017 – Domestic Violence Consideration:

   – Oregon starts considering domestic violence history as a significant factor in custody decisions.

2018 – Child’s Preferences Considered:

   – Courts begin considering the child’s preferences when determining custody arrangements.

2019 – Mental Health Assessment:

   – Introduction of mental health assessments when relevant to parental fitness and child well-being.

2020 – Relocation Guidelines:

   – Establishment of guidelines addressing parental relocations and their impact on existing custody arrangements.

2021 – Co-Parenting Education:

   – Requirement for parents to attend co-parenting education classes to enhance communication and cooperation.

2022 – Technology’s Role in Parenting:

   – Oregon addresses the use of technology in co-parenting arrangements and its effects on children.

2023 – Encouraging Child-Centric Agreements:

   – Promotion of child-centric agreements to ensure the child’s welfare remains a top priority.

These updates underline Oregon’s commitment to creating a supportive and balanced environment for children and promoting effective co-parenting relationships through its evolving child custody laws.

Guide to Child Custody Laws in Oregon

Child custody is an issue that can bring up strong emotions in any parent.  If you are an Oregon parent, it is in your best interest to understand child custody laws in Oregon so that you can secure the custody arrangements you want in court.  This guide will explain the various kinds of arrangements for child custody and parenting time that are available from Oregon courts.  After reading this brief overview, you will have a better understanding of child custody laws in Oregon and be better able to conduct further, more specific research.

Parenting Plans and Mediation

While child custody is a very emotionally charged issue, children are generally happiest if their parents can come to an agreement about the division of their parenting responsibilities.  Because the courts want to encourage parents to come together to talk about parenting, courts generally approve of any parenting plan signed by both parents that gives frequent and continuing contact to each parent.  Child custody laws in Oregon allow judges to modify any parenting plan they believe is not in the best interest of the child, but in practice this is rarely done.

It is not always easy for parents to decide on a parenting plan together.  If you are having a difficult time agreeing to all aspects of sharing parenting with your ex-spouse, you may be required by the court to attend mediation.  Mediation will take place without either of your lawyers, and is an informal process allowing you to work out your differences with a third-party mediator to keep you on track.  If mediation is successful, your mediator will draw up a parenting plan that conforms to child custody laws in Oregon and you will take it to the court for final approval.


While many people think the term “custody” refers to where a child is living, child custody laws in Oregon refer to custody only when the meaning is legal—that is, which parent gets to make major decisions about health, education, and religion on behalf of the child.  What many other states call “physical custody,” meaning where the child lives, Oregon calls “parenting time.

Child custody laws in Oregon do not have a preference for sole or joint custody.  In joint custody, both parents share decision-making responsibilities and must come to an agreement about any issues in dispute.  If sole custody is awarded to one parent, child custody laws in Oregon allow that parent to make legal decisions for the child alone, without the consent of the other parent.  However, all custodial parents are required to inform the court if they intend to move permanently more than 60 miles away from the other parent.  This allows the other parent to contest the move in court.

Parenting Time

Parenting time refers to which parent the child is spending time with and living with.  Arrangements for parenting time vary depending on what works best for individual parents and their children.  Whether a 50/50 split or one parent having the large majority of parenting time works best, the court is likely to approve any plan for parenting time that keeps the best interest of the child in mind.

Parenting time may be supervised if one parent seems to present a danger to the health or well-being of a child.  Supervision usually consists of a family friend or trusted relative being present during parenting time to ensure that the children are safe and well cared for.