Know the Laws: Oregon
UPDATED April 1, 2012
Below are some facts about custody laws in Oregon and links to other sites for additional information.
The judge will always evaluate the best interests of the minor child when making a custody determination. In Oregon, "best interests" is based on the following factors:
Possibly. The court will evaluate many factors when determining custody.* If one parent has committed violence, however, the court will assume that it is not in the best interest of the child to grant that parent joint or sole custody. The abusive parent can present evidence to the judge to try to change the judge’s mind though.**
Note: As per a new law that took effect 1/1/12, if the father has been convicted of forcible rape, statutory rape with a girl under age 14 or incest with a child under age 16 under Oregon law or under similar laws in another state, and the rape resulted in the conception of the child, the judge cannot give the father sole or joint custody. However, he still has the obligation to pay child support.***
* ORS § 107.137(1)(d)
** ORS § 107.137(2)
*** ORS § 107.137(5)(a)
If you are not comfortable with the abuser being alone with your child, you might be thinking about asking the judge to order that visits with your child be supervised. If you are already in court because the abuser filed for visitation or custody, you may not have much to lose by asking that the visits be supervised if you can present a valid reason for your request (although this may depend on your situation).
However, if there is no current court case, please get legal advice BEFORE you start a court case to ask for supervised visits. We strongly recommend that you talk to an attorney who specializes in custody matters to find out what you would have to prove to get the visits supervised and how long supervised visits would last, based on the facts of your case.
In the majority of cases, supervised visits are only a temporary measure. Although the exact visitation order will vary by state, county, or judge, the judge might order a professional to observe the other parent on a certain amount of visits or the visits might be supervised by a relative for a certain amount of time -- and if there are no obvious problems, the visits may likely become unsupervised. Oftentimes, at the end of a case, the other parent ends up with more frequent and/ or longer visits than s/he had before you went into court or even some form of custody.
In some cases, to protect your child from immediate danger by the abuser, starting a case to ask for custody and supervised visits is appropriate. To find out what may be best in your situation, please go to OR Finding a Lawyer to seek out legal advice.
We hope the following links to outside sources may be helpful.
Legal Aid Society of Oregon has a number of resources about custody and related issues, including: