In an Oregon divorce that involves a custody dispute, the court will consider “the desirability of continuing an existing relationship” between a parent and a child as a factor in its decision.
This factor is primarily an investigation into which parent has previously been the child’s primary caregiver. Oregon law supports stability of environment in the child’s life, and if a parent has been the primary caregiver to his/her child up until this point, the court will hope to preserve that and other preexisting relationships as much as possible. The benefits of this continuity in custody will be considered as one of several factors used to determine the child’s best interests (see our post “Obtaining Custody in Oregon”).
The exception to this preference occurs when there is reason to doubt a parent’s competency in his/her previous role. A parent’s recent drug use might be considered here, for example. That drug use, or a similar issue, may make a court decide that an adjusted relationship would serve the child better.
If you are going through a divorce in Portland and are concerned about custody, the lawyers at McGuire + Thompson, LLC can provide legal advice and services to help make sure your child ends up in the best hands. Visit our website at portlandfamilylaw.com for more information.