The basics of Oregon child custody and parental relocation

Getting divorced is known to be one of the most stressful life events a person can experience. Families with minor children facing a divorce experience even greater impact on their lives when they are separated. According to statistics from the Center for Disease Control, 3.6 out of every 1,000 people in the U.S. are divorced compared to 3.9 out of every 1,000 in the state of Oregon. With a state divorce rate slightly higher than the national average, many Oregon parents are affected by this.

Determination of child custody can be wrought with emotions as parents come to terms with some loss of time with their children. Understanding Oregon's laws surrounding child support can help Washington County parents through this challenging process.

Two types of custody in Oregon

As in many states, there are two types of custody that need to be determined in any child custody situation-legal and physical.

  • Legal custody provides one or both parents the right and responsibility for decision making on the part of the child or children involved
  • Physical custody outlines the living arrangements for the child or children
  • Legal and physical custody can be joint or sole and it is possible for one form of custody to be joint and one form to be sole
  • Decisions allowed in legal custody include those regarding education, healthcare, religion and more

In situations without a court order, joint custody is the default for both legal and physical custody. This can be the case in a divorce while the agreements are still in process or in the case of unmarried parents without any formal parenting or custody agreements.

In Oregon, joint custody is only awarded if both parents agree to share decision making power and responsibility. If one or both spouses refuse this option, the court will make a determination of sole legal custody in favor of one parent. It is not uncommon for physical custody to be jointly awarded in these situations.

Whether custody is joint or sole, agreement to a parenting plan must come from both parties. This includes identification of parenting time on a daily basis as well as for holidays and vacations, dispute resolution options and decisions on parental relocation.

Relocation of a custodial parent

The laws in Oregon require that any custodial parent may move up to 60 miles away from their current residence with no notice or approval. If, however, a custodial parent wishes to move more than 60 miles away, notification must be provided to both the other parent and the court.

If the other parent does not agree with the move, a petition to stop the move can be filed with the court. Similarly, the parent who wants to move can file a petition to allow the move with the court. A judge will make a determination about any move based upon whether or not it is in the best interest of a child.