Custody vs. Parenting Time
One common misconception is that sole custody means that the other party does not get a substantial amount of parenting time so many parents will express that they want joint custody. Joint custody in Oregon can be difficult to achieve, because both parties have to agree to share custody. Joint custody means that both parents agree to make decisions together regarding major medical decisions, school decisions, and decisions regarding where the child physically resides, among other major legal decisions. Joint custody requires two parents who are cooperative with each other and strongly committed to coparenting in the best interest of the child. The default in Oregon is sole legal custody with equal parenting time. This means that one parent (generally the primary custodial parent) makes all major decisions regarding the care of the child, but that
both parents share an equal amount of parenting time. This can be in the form of parenting time with each parent on alternating weeks or half the week spent with each parent. Typically, parents will decide on a parenting time schedule in mediation, a required step in child custody matters. Mediation allows parents to discuss who will be the primary custodial parent, or if they will share joint custody, and it further allows parents to account for other factors, such as proximity of the parents' homes and their location in the child's school district or ability to provide transportation to and from school.
The main take-away here is that asking for sole custody, as we do in every petition and response, is not an attempt to deprive the other parent of a fair parenting time schedule, but rather to secure a primary custodial parent who can make the major decisions for the child. We ask for sole custody in our petitions to protect your parental rights to make decisions for the child, if the other parent does not agree to joint custody.