Family Law Attorney in Salem, Oregon
At our Salem law firm, we can help you with child custody, which is centered around the best interests of the child. Defining what actions have those interests at heart, and getting the other parent or the judge to agree with you, is a detailed process in any divorce and family law case.
Married parents who are divorcing have to deal with this issue as do unmarried parents who are no longer living together. Unmarried parents sometimes have an additional hurdle to jump over, determining legal paternity of the child.
Your child’s unmarried father has no right to visitation or custody until paternity has been established. This makes it critical to find out whether a father is named on the birth certificate, and to get that corrected as soon as possible.
Custody is really all about control. The custodial parent has the sole decision-making authority over the big things: residence, education, and medical care. In Oregon, there is another option: joint custody. When parents have joint custody, they share in the decision-making. Joint custody cannot be imposed on unwilling parents; it can only be agreed to when the parties get along in performing parenting duties.
It is important to remember that nearly everything a parent does with his or her child is done without referring to custody. The decision to take a child to a baseball game, to go fishing, to go to church together, and to seek emergency medical attention, are all done irrespective of who has custody. These things are all part of parenting time.
For many parents, parenting time (also called “visitation”) is much more important than custody. Developing a well thought-out, flexible and detailed parenting schedule is essential to maintaining your relationship with your child over the years.
Defining when your weekends fall, vacations, summer schedules, birthdays, holidays, and so forth, is a complex process. Done right, a solid parenting plan can make dealing with the other parent easier when there are miscommunications or even disagreements in scheduling.
Your child may have grown very close to your current spouse, and over the years lost contact with their other natural parent. Your current spouse may, with your consent, adopt your son or daughter, providing your child with a two-parent home.
Modification and Enforcement
As the years pass and circumstances change after your divorce or if your former spouse fails to abide by the divorce decree, you may want to consider modification or enforcement of your divorce decree.
Parents sometimes stop using their parenting time, incomes can change drastically up or down, and the needs of the children also change as they grow. The judgment doesn’t change all by itself, however. You need to ask the court to modify the judgment, whether it’s for custody, parenting time, child support or spousal support.
Whether it’s your ex-husband isn’t paying his child support, or your ex-wife is refusing to let you see your child, self-help isn’t the answer. You need to file for enforcement of the court’s judgment and orders. This way you get the power of the court to help you get the money you are supposed to be paid and to see your children when you are supposed to have them.