How Much Does it Cost to Get Custody?

There is no set price for a child custody and parenting time case. The court charges a filing fee for petitions and responses. There are also additional fees for services, settlement conferences, and the trial. The more hearings it takes to resolve your case, the more you will pay. The same is true for attorney fees. The longer, and more complicated your case becomes, the more you can expect to pay in legal fees.

What if the Other Parent’s Paternity Hasn’t Been Established?

Before the court can issue a child custody and parenting time order, a child’s biological father or second parent’s legal relationship must be established. When a parent (usually the mother) is unmarried and the father has not been declared a legal parent, the court will need to hear a case for paternity before deciding issues of custody, parenting time, or child support. This may include DNA testing, testimony, or other proof that the other parent is the biological parent of the child.

Will You Have to Pay Child Support?

There is almost always child support involved in a child custody and parenting time case. Oregon uses standardized guidelines to calculate who pays child support, and how much. These guidelines look at:

  • Each parent’s income (including spousal support)
  • How much time the child spends with each parent
  • Health insurance costs
  • Child care costs

The bigger the difference between the parents’ income or parenting time responsibilities, the more likely it is you will have to pay child support.

What is a Parenting Plan?

Oregon divides the time children spend with their separated parents according to a parenting plan. All child custody orders must include a parenting plan. They may be general and flexible, or detailed and specific. However, at minimum it must identify how much time is awarded to the parent who does not have custody.

Should You Agree to Joint Custody?

Custody involves determining which parent (or parents) should be involved in major life decisions, like religion, education, and health care. This can be shared (joint) or awarded to just one parent (sole). If you and your child’s other parent can work together and generally share similar opinions on these major life issues, then joint custody may be appropriate. However, in high conflict cases, agreeing to joint custody may mean you will need to return to court to fight for sole custody later on.

How Does the Oregon Court Decide Who Gets Custody?

Oregon family law judges decide a dispute over child custody and parenting time based on the best interest of the child. To reach that decision, the court will consider:

  • The child’s emotional ties with other family members
  • The parents’ attitude toward and interest in the child
  • Whether it is desirable to continue an existing relationship
  • Abuse by either parent
  • The child’s preference as to primary caregiver (if that caregiver is fit)
  • Each parent’s willingness to facilitate the child’s relationship with the other parent

Do You Need a Child Custody and Parenting Time Order?

Not every parent needs a child custody and parenting time order. Some unmarried couples are able to work together to make sure their children develop strong connections to both parents. However, eventually, most couples find themselves disagreeing over how their children will be raised or where they will spend their days. When that happens, a petition for child custody and parenting time should be filed.