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Establishing Custody, Support and Parenting Time (for unmarried parents)

General Information

The laws about parenting time and custody apply to both married and unmarried parents. Unmarried parents can ask the court for legal custody, parenting time or child support. Paternity must be established before you can file. Paternity can be established if a father signs and files a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (a statement that says he is the father) with the State Registrar of Vital Statistics. The Division of Child Support (800.850.0228) can help with establishing paternity. See Establishing Paternity for more information.

Custody and Parenting Time (Visitation)

Court-ordered child custody determines who has the legal responsibility to care for and make decisions about a child. There are different types of custody arrangements. Sole custody is when one parent has sole authority to make all decisions regarding the child's upbringing. A parent with sole custody is free to consult with the other parent regarding those decisions, but the final say regarding such decisions rests with the custodial parent. Joint custody is when both parents share the responsibility and have authority to make decisions regarding the child's upbringing. Joint custody does not necessarily mean that the child lives with each parent an equal amount of time.

Parenting Time (Visitation) is the time the non-custodial parent spends with a child. Parenting plans must set forth a minimum amount of parenting time for the parent who does not have custody. Parenting time can be restricted or denied by a judge if the parenting time would place the child in danger, or if the judge decides that restriction or denial is in the child's best interest. Mediation will be ordered by a judge if the parents can't agree on custody and parenting time. If parents cannot come to an agreement in mediation on custody and parenting time, a judge will hear both sides and decide what is best for the child.


Parenting Classes

If you are a parent of a child under 17, and you are a party in a Washington County family law case, you are required to participate in a program of education called "Kids' Turn." You must register for the class by calling 503.846.0665 or at  The Family Law Assistance Program in room 112C of the courthouse also has forms available. Generally you will not be allowed to finalize your case until you have completed the class and a certificate of completion has been filed with the court.


Child Support

Child Support is money regularly paid by a parent to help support a child. The court can order child support to be paid until a child is 18, and in some instances, until a child turns 21. Child support can be ordered as part of a divorce, a separation or a custody and parenting time case. Oregon has guidelines for calculation of support. The guidelines consider many factors, including but not limited to, income of the parents, cost of childcare, and number of children. You may request assistance from the Division of Child Support by calling 800.850.0228, or visiting the web site at or from the Family Law Assistance Program.



Unmarried Parents
Unmarried Parents Response