Salem Child Custody Lawyer

Resolving Custody And Parenting Time (Visitation)

Decisions about the care and custody of your child can be overwhelming. As an Oregon family law attorney, I bring more than 20 years of experience and my personal attention to these complex and emotional issues. I will assert your parental rights and protect your children's best interests, whether in out-of-court negotiations or in contested custody proceedings.

My Salem law practice, Elaine D. Smith-Koop, LLC, serves Marion, Polk, Yamhill and surrounding counties of the Willamette Valley. I represent parents in initial determination of custody as well as later modifications of custody orders.

I handle all facets of custody in the context of divorce as well as custody issues in paternity issues on behalf of unmarried parents. I also represent grandparents seeking custody or visitation of their grandchildren.

Child Custody And Parental Rights

It may be helpful to understand the following child custody terms used by the family courts:

  • Sole custody — One parent makes all decisions, including school, health care, religious upbringing and where the child lives.
  • Joint custody — Both parents have equal decision-making powers, even if the child lives all of the time or most of the time with one parent.|
  • Parenting time — Formerly called "visitation," this is regularly scheduled time that the noncustodial parent spends with the child.
  • Parenting plan — This is the court-approved schedule and co-parenting arrangements, detailing pickup times, holidays and vacations, contact with the child and so on.

The courts presume some form of joint custody, unless one parent is abusive or otherwise unfit. Parenting time commonly follows the traditional custody-and-visitation model (every other weekend plus one overnight during the week). But shared parenting is becoming more common, in which the child spends approximately 50-50 time with each parent. As your lawyer, I can help negotiate a fair and workable custody arrangement that makes sense for both parents and the child.

In a contested custody case, Oregon law requires the parties to engage in mediation and make a good faith effort to reach an agreement. If mediation does not resolve the dispute, the court may order a custody study to be conducted. An expert would be obtained to review and evaluate the situation and make a recommendation to the court.

The judge considers the custody evaluator's report and several statutory factors in determining custody, including who has been the primary caregiver, whether the parents work full-time and how much time they spend with the child.

Marion County Parenting Time Attorney

From 20 years of experience in the local family courts, I can advise on the strengths and weaknesses of your position and how a judge would likely rule. If your case goes to trial, I will aggressively assert your interests.

If you need an experienced Salem child custody attorney, call me today at 503-298-4419 or 800-743-3002, or contact me online to schedule a consultation.