Bend Family & Child Custody Attorneys
The top priority in any family conflict with children involved is to ensure that those children have safe, stable homes and the best possible support – both emotionally and financially. Whether you are facing a family separation or are concerned about your child’s welfare due to a problem after a family separation, sound legal guidance is essential. You may need a family law attorney in Bend.
Three primary areas in which we can help are:
- Child Custody
- Parenting Time
- Child Support
Legal representation by an attorney who understands the laws and rules in the particular state and county is essential. Oregon law provides for “sole” or “joint” custody arrangements – meaning an award to one or both parents for the authority to make important legal decisions on behalf of the child. Sole custody, or “full custody,” is just as it sounds—an arrangement where only one parent is granted the authority to make the major decisions on behalf of the child. Joint legal custody allows both parents to make decisions regarding the education, school district, healthcare, and religious upbringing of their child.
If there is joint legal custody, the parents agree to discuss with each other what is best for their child and to make a joint decision. In Oregon, joint legal custody can only be awarded if both parents agree. A court cannot order joint legal custody if either parent objects. If the parties do not agree to joint custody, the court must award sole legal custody to one parent based on many factors. A few of the factors that are considered include:
- The emotional ties between the child and other family members.
- Who is or has been the primary caretaker of the child.
- Moral, mental and physical issues for either parent.
- The child’s personal preference (if the child is old enough).
- Any instances of child abuse or domestic violence.
Whether the outcome is sole custody or an agreement for shared joint custody, the most important thing is to ensure that is that the child is happy and healthy. In Oregon, the courts decide parenting time based on the “best interests of the child.” Separated or divorced parents often cannot agree on what that means, leading to conflict and potentially lasting trauma for everyone involved. Legal representation is essential. The parenting time schedule can be determined by several factors including:
- The child’s needs and schedule.
- The location and distance between the parents’ residences.
- The parents’ work schedules, and several other factors.
The parenting time schedule is set on a case-by-case basis and can be customized or shared equally, depending on the circumstances of the family and the best interests of the child. Our family attorney can help you navigate parenting time schedules.
Child support is ordered in divorces with children, but also in cases where the parties were never married. Generally, one parent may be required to make payments monthly until the child is 18 years old. Oregon law also allows the court to order both parents to pay support for children between 18 and 21 if they qualify as a “child attending school.” The Oregon Department of Justice Child Support Program has established a formula for calculating the amount of child support. The guidelines require the parents to share in the costs of the child in proportion to their incomes, while also considering health insurance, parenting time, and work-related daycare costs incurred for the child. Often parents come to an agreement regarding how to financially support their children. Although parents have some discretion in setting an amount of child support, the agreement must be properly presented to and approved by the court. We can help ensure a fair support award is calculated and finalized with the court. Our family lawyer will focus on helping you:
- Cope with the tremendous stress you may be feeling by maintaining an objective view of your child’s needs.
- Identify and obtain evidence critical to advocating for outcomes you desire and your children deserve.
- Understand the best and worst-case scenarios given the specific facts of your case before committing to a settlement position or litigation.
- Set practical, achievable goals for your custody and parenting time arrangements, based on an accurate understanding of Oregon law and how the court may rule on your case.
- Advocate for fair and equitable child support orders.
When you are ready to speak with a family law attorney in Bend, call our office at 541-317-5505, and take the first step toward protecting what matters most to you.