Help! I want custody of my kids!
Many parents ask what their chances are of getting custody of their kids. While it can be difficult to predict which way a court will go when making a custody determination, the court generally looks at six factors, enumerated in ORS 107.137. They are as follows:
(a)The emotional ties between the child and other family members;
(b)The interest of the parties in and attitude toward the child;
(c)The desirability of continuing an existing relationship;
(d)The abuse of one parent by the other;
(e)The preference for the primary caregiver of the child, if the caregiver is deemed fit by the court; and
(f)The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child. However, the court may not consider such willingness and ability if one parent shows that the other parent has sexually assaulted or engaged in a pattern of behavior of abuse against the parent or a child and that a continuing relationship with the other parent will endanger the health or safety of either parent or the child.
First and most importantly, who is the primary parent of the child. In the case of divorce, this is the parent who cares for the children when they are sick, who makes the lunches and gets them off to the bus in the mornings, who does the bathing and cooking for the kids, who takes them to their doctor's appointments. In the time of COVID, it may also be the parent who works from home and helps the kids with their online schooling.
Second, do you have multiple children or just one? What about live in grandparents or aunts and uncles? A court is reluctant to break up those relationships.
Third, is there any abuse that has happened in the home? If there is a contested restraining order in place that was upheld, the presumption is that the parent who was abused gets the kids. You can overcome that presumption if you have significant evidence that you should get custody, but it can be a barrier to getting custody.
Fourth, what do you do to encourage the relationship between the other parent and your children? Do you facilitate phone calls every day? Do you give the other parent parenting time as often as they want it and as is feasible? Do you talk positively about the other parent when your children are around? Do you encourage a relationship, even when the children express they don't want a relationship?
If these factors weigh in your favor, you may get custody. However, the court is also allowed to consider other factors not listed here, such as a large move. Set up a consultation with me to discuss your chances of getting custody of your children and how I can help.