Daniel J. Lounsbury Attorney at Law Willamette Valley Legal
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How does a judge decide what's in my child's best interests?

In Oregon courts, a judge will take several factors into consideration when determining whether you or the other parent should gain custody of your child. As Oregon's 2017 Revised Statutes explain, a judge will not give preference just because of your status as father or mother. Judges focus on which parent can give children the most successful future.

A judge will not rely on a specific factor to make his or her decision; rather, judges use a combination of factors to make an informed choice. These include the following:

  • Emotional bonds your child has formed with family members
  • Whether you or your child has an interest in continuing an existing relationship
  • How you act toward your child
  • Whether your child has undergone abuse from you or the other parent
  • If the primary caregiver is deemed fit by the court

The court will not consider whether you have a disability unless that disability could put your child’s health in danger. Marital status, income and social environment will also not be considered unless these factors are hurting your child physically or emotionally.  

There are two instances in which a judge could automatically eliminate you or the other parent from gaining custody of your child. If you or the other parent have abused another family member (not necessarily your child), then a judge can assume that giving you custody isn’t in your child’s best interests. The other instance is if a parent has been convicted of rape and that rape resulted in the conception of this child. However, a denial in this case does not mean you can stop paying child support.

With these factors, judges can make an informed decision as to which parent can give the child the best future possible. Although this information may give you an idea of what you can expect, it should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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