Legal Custody in Oregon

What is Legal Custody in Oregon?

In cases for custody or divorces with children, your judge in Oregon will determine which parent has legal custody of the children and how much parenting time each parent will have with the children.

Many people confuse legal custody and parenting time, but they are separate issues.  The parent with legal custody will have the right to make the major life decisions for the child.  These issues include which school to attend, the child’s religion, major medical decisions and other major life decisions.  In Oregon, judges cannot discriminate between mothers and fathers when determining custody.

In determining which parent gets legal custody, the judge will base its decision on the best interests of the child.  The best interests of the child are based on several factors, which include:

  • the emotional ties between the child and other family members;
  • The interest of the parties in and attitude toward the child;
  • The desirability of continuing an existing relationship;
  • The abuse of one parent by the other;
  • The preference for a primary care giver of the child, if the caretaker is deemed fit by the court, and
  • Each parent’s willingness to facilitate a close relationship between the child and the other parent.


Legal custody is distinct from the amount of parenting time each parent is allowed with the children. The judge will determine that as a separate matter.  Moreover, even if you are not awarded legal custody by the court, you haves numerous rights which include being involved with the child’s school, authorizing emergency medical treatment, consulting with the child’s medical providers and other important areas.

Joint Custody:  In cases where the parents agree to joint custody, the parents agree to make decisions together by agreement. However, a judge cannot grant joint custody unless both parents agree.

It is important to have a strong advocate on your side in custody disputes.   The attorneys at Corey Law Group have significant experience in child custody matters, and can help you through the difficult process.