How Custody Disputes Are Decided Under Oregon Law

According to the U.S. 2010 Census, about a third of all Oregon families are single-parent households, with most of these headed by single mothers. Perhaps no issue is as contested in a divorce action as who gets custody of the children. Custody is more than just about who the child is going to live with but includes how the important decisions will be made concerning the child’s lifestyle and welfare.

The determination of custody

The court decides custody after a hearing to determine what is in the child’s best interests. The factors used by the court in determining the best interests and welfare of the child are set forth in ORS 107.137 and include:

  • The emotional ties the child has with other family members
  • The parents’ interests and attitudes toward the child
  • The desire to continue an already existing relationship
  • Abuse by one parent against the other
  • The suitability of the child’s primary caregiver
  • Each parent’s ability and desire to allow for the other parent to continue having a close relationship with the child, except where a continuing relationship places the parent or child in danger

Other factors such as a parent’s income level, marital status, life style or other conduct are only considered if they are likely to hurt the child emotionally or physically.

Joint custody

The court can order shared custody arrangement and still designate one parent’s home as the child’s primary residence, while designating which decisions about the child will be shared and which will be the exclusive responsibility of one parent.


The court may approve a parenting plan agreed to by the parents or in the absence of an agreement provide the non-custodial parent with sufficient quality visitation time, provided the parent was never convicted of rape or the child would otherwise be in danger.


In situations in which the parents are not able to resolve their differences on the issue of custody, the court can direct them to mediation. 

There is no more important asset to protect in a divorce than your children. The compassionate and experienced family law attorneys at Kell, Alterman & Runstein, L.L.P. can help you fight to ensure both you and your children’s best interests are protected.

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