How Does Abuse Factor Into Custody?

While a court will not usually consider one factor, such as the child’s preference, to the exclusion of others when deciding custody in a divorce, there is a circumstance in which a single factor may be considered above all others: when one parent has committed abuse.

(For a list of factors considered in determining custody, see our post: “Obtaining Custody in Oregon.”)

Abuse, under Oregon law, is defined as the following actions towards family or household members:

  • attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury
  • intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly placing another in fear of imminent bodily injury
  • causing another to engage in involuntary sexual relations by force or threat of force.

In cases where abuse has occurred, the non-abusing parent is likely to win custody. However, abuse is not always straightforward, obvious, or easily proven, and determining what falls under the categories listed above can be difficult.

If you believe abuse should be considered in your custody decision, having an attorney to help establish whether abuse has occurred and to present that information in court can be vital for securing the best interests of you and your child.

For help or more information on how abuse factors into custody decisions and divorce, visit the website of McGuire Thompson, LLC at