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Custody & Parenting Time

In Oregon, as long as paternity has been established, the laws on custody and parenting time are the same for both married and unmarried parents. The best interest of the child is the main focus in making decisions about custody and parenting time. 
IMPORTANT! If parents are married, custody and parenting time is decided as part of a divorce or legal separation. See Divorce, Separation, Annulment.

Case Basics

A custody and parenting time case is started when one parent files a petition for custody and parenting time. The parent who files the petition is called the petitioner. The other parent is called the respondent.


Custody (Legal Decision Making)

There are two common types of custody in Oregon: joint custody and sole custody. The type of custody parents have determines who will have final authority to make major decisions. Major decisions include, but are not limited to the child's religion, education, health care, and where the child lives.


Parenting Time

Parenting time addresses when the children will be in the care of each parent. A parenting plan, whether agreed to by the parents or ordered by the court, must spell out the minimum amount of time each parent will have with a child. In many counties in Oregon, before a court will make a decision regarding custody or parenting time, the court requires the parents to try to work out a plan in mediation. If the parents cannot agree, the court will make parenting time decisions.

Under Oregon law, no matter who has custody, both parents almost always have the right to access the child’s school, medical, dental, police and counseling records. Both parents usually are able to authorize emergency medical care. In addition, Oregon law requires most parenting plans to restrict a party from moving more than 60 miles from the other parent without telling the other parent and the court before the move.

A parenting plan may be changed if a different parenting plan would be in the best interest of the child.




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