In the best interest of the child
In divorce and custody cases the phrase “in the best interest of the child” is used frequently. But what does it mean? In some cases it can be obvious. In situations where one parent is unable to care for the child and provide a safe and loving home, the best interest of the child is easier to determine. But in circumstances where both parents are loving, well adjusted, and able to provide a safe stable home, the best interest of the child can be more difficult to define.
The courts use a framework of factors to answer, “what is in the best interest of the children?” This framework considers the age and gender of the child, the educational options and resources available to each parent, the stability of each parent’s home, and the income and economic resources of each parent. The courts will also consider the child’s preferences in regard to custody. These are some of the most common factors, but this list is not exhaustive. The courts will use any factor that it deems relevant to decide what serves the child best interests.
Many people mistakenly believe that children get to choose which parent they want to live with at a certain age (generally age 12 or above) but this is not the case. It is rare that a child’s direct input is taken into consideration by the court. However, the children’s voice can be heard if a custody evaluation is ordered by the court or guardian ad litem (attorney for the child(ren)) is appointed to represent the children’s interest. While children do not get to choose, the more mature and well reasoned their desires are the more likely their voice will have greater input.
Oregon Statute 107.137(1) provides the following guidelines for how Oregon courts should determine the best interest of the child:
In determining the custody of a minor child, the court shall give primary consideration to the best interests and welfare of the child. In determining the best interests and welfare of the child, the court shall consider the following relevant factors:
• The emotional ties between the child and other family members
• The interest of the parties in and attitude toward the child
• The desirability of continuing an existing relationship
• The abuse of one parent by the other
• The preference of the primary caregiver of the child, if the caregiver is deemed fit by the court
• The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child
The court may not consider such willingness and ability if one parent shows that the other parent has sexually assaulted or engaged in a pattern of behavior of abuse against the parent or a child and that a continuing relationship with the other parent will endanger the health or safety of either parent or the child.
Custody cases can quickly become contentious and emotions frequently run high. It can be difficult, but it is important for parents navigating custody issues to keep a level head. Maintaining composure and keeping emotions under control will help parents make sound decisions, reach a custody agreement that is in the best interest of the child and meet the needs of the parties involved.
Custody cases can be difficult and having a trusted advocate can make the process easier. Working with an experienced child custody attorney will give you the legal guidance to help you navigate your case with confidence. If you have questions about child custody, divorce, or any other family law issue, please give us a call. Our managing attorney, Colin Amos, is happy to answer your questions over the phone at no charge (503) 731-8888. Or if you prefer email, Colin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook has surpassed 1.06 billion monthly active users and the use of social media as evidence in divorce and custody cases is on the rise. Now more than ever it is important to understand how social media can impact your divorce and how to use privacy settings to limit access to your information.
Paramount above all else, always use caution when sharing anything on the Internet. Privacy settings are not infallible and screenshots can be used to capture information meant to be kept private. The rule of thumb when deciding whether or not to share: if you’re not comfortable with the post being public, then don’t share it online.
If you have decided that you are comfortable with the Internet at large being privy to your post, there are steps you can take to implement a certain level of control. Privacy settings are useful for limiting the audience of your post, and while not foolproof, they do offer a barrier of protection from prying eyes.
The Wall Street Journal published a guide to Facebook’s Privacy settings in March 2013. Facebook is notorious for constantly changing how their privacy settings work, so it is important to check them on a regular basis.
If you are going through a divorce or considering divorce, understanding how social media can be used as evidence is important. In an article published by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, AAML president Marlene Eskind Moses commented on how social media factors into the divorce process:
“Going through a divorce always results in heightened levels of personal scrutiny. If you publicly post any contradictions to previously made statements and promises, an estranged spouse will certainly be one of the first people to notice and make use of that evidence. As everyone continues to share more and more aspects of their lives on social networking sites, they leave themselves open to much greater examinations of both their public and private lives in these sensitive situations.”
A relationship showing signs of distress is a signal that it is time to take a break from your social media accounts. Putting your social networking on pause can help you to resist the urge to post comments, pictures and information that may prove detrimental to your case. It is better to err on the side of caution and not share, than to try and remove content down the road.
If you have questions about how social media might affect your situation, or questions about divorce, custody or family law, please give us a call. Our managing attorney, Colin Amos, will personally answer your questions over the phone at no charge and no obligation (503) 731-8888 or email Colin at email@example.com
Colin Amos stopped by Sports 750 The Game to discuss all things family law. During this appearance, Colin covered everything from a Pennsylvanian woman’s attempt to get a divorce by calling 911 to legal questions from husbands and fathers.
One question Colin tackled is a common concern among fathers facing a breakup. The question came from Portland and inquired, “My ex and I have a child together and were never married. She has relocated to another state. Do I have a say in where the children live? What are my rights as a father?
As a Portland divorce attorney, Colin provided some advice on the situation by highlighting how easy it is to unintentionally set a bad precedent. Fathers going through a breakup will often try to salvage the relationship and concede to give their partner space. The partner will often take the kids and stay with friends or relatives for a few months. Unfortunately if the reconciliation isn’t successful, a new routine has already been established and a precedent is set.
Colin suggests that fathers proceed with caution during a breakup, once a new precedent has been set, it can be difficult to revert the situation. Every relationship has its own set of unique circumstances and Colin suggests discussing your situation with a family law attorney before the relationship comes to an end.
Listen to all of the advice in the clip below. If you would like Colin to answer your legal questions, give him a call. Answers over the phone are always free and there is no obligation. (503) 731-8888
Child custody can pose many challenging issues making it difficult for couples to reach a custody agreement. Ideally couples will work together to create a parenting plan and schedule that is acceptable for all parties. Realistically the courts will frequently be required to decide what is best for the child and create custody orders that reflect the findings of the court.
For men mired in a contentious custody battle, the idea of the court deciding the case can be an unsettling proposition that often raises the question “how does the court decide custody?”
In Oregon, custody evaluations are extremely helpful if there are elusive facts that are hard to prove in court. Evaluators are not constrained by evidentiary rules—they can review documents, speak to witnesses, speak to the children, request assessments (drug, alcohol, psychiatric etc.) to determine what is truly best for the children. Custody evaluations can be much more thorough and less costly overall than pure litigation.
Parenting evaluations frequently result in settlement since the court deems the recommendations to be impartial. This can minimize legal cost because a Judge is more likely to follow the recommendations of a neutral, experience third party and will minimize additional attorney fees associated with litigation.
In Oregon, custody or parenting time evaluations are initiated by the parties involved, not the court. One or both of the parties can request the evaluation and the court has discretion to appoint an evaluator if they deem it necessary. Usually the attorneys agree to a private evaluator however if they cannot the court may make the choice. The cost of a private evaluator ranges between $3000 to $7000. Usually the party requesting the evaluation pays the fee and the court reserves contribution to trial (which rarely occurs so be prepared to pay for it if you request it).
The courts have several goals in determining custody. These goals, as identified by the National Association of Social Workers, include:
- Identify the developmental needs of the child(ren);
- Identify the strengths, vulnerabilities, and needs of all other members of the family;
- Identify the positive and negative family interactions;
- Develop a plan for custody and access utilizing the strengths of each individual that will serve the best interests of the child(ren) and within those parameters, the wishes and interests of the parents
How is a parenting evaluation conducted?
A parenting evaluation is a formal investigation to assess the parenting skills of the parties involved and to determine which parent is best suited to be the primary caregiver for the child.
The parenting evaluation process will include interviews with both parents, significant caretakers, and the child (or children). Home visits to the parents’ respective residences are common as well as the review of records and psychological evaluations.
In addition to interviews and assessments, documentation will play a vital role in the parenting evaluation. The more relevant documentation you can provide to support your case, the better off you will be. It is important to note that relevancy is paramount. Sheer volumes of irrelevant documents will do nothing to further your case, and in fact may end up costing you extra money in evaluation fees and hurt your argument. Providing relevant and organized documentation will show that you are methodical and dedicated to providing credible information.
Parenting evaluations are a nerve-wracking experience and working with an experienced family law attorney can be invaluable. A knowledgeable attorney will work with you to create a custody strategy and guide you through the entire evaluation process. It is imperative educate yourself on your rights and your options as a father —the outcome of your evaluation will impact your relationship with your child for many years.
If you have questions, please call our office. Our managing attorney, Colin Amos, will answer your questions over the phone at no charge and no obligation. (503) 731-8888
Louisville may have taken the NCAA Division I title, but Lincoln William emerged victorious in this year’s Goldberg Jones Bracket Challenge. William’s bracket picks bested the other 260 participants and earned him the reward of a $250 Amazon Gift Card.
William picked 43 of the 63 games correctly and his bracket earned 145 out of a possible 192 points. William beat last year’s winner by 29 points and securing him the 2012 Goldberg Jones Bracket Challenge title.
Thanks to everyone who participated in this year’s March Madness festivities. The NCAA Division I tournament is a fun event that we look forward to every spring. It offers us an opportunity to engage with our communities around a shared passion—basketball. The interjection of friendly competition is always a welcome addition to our offices come March and we hope you enjoyed the tournament as much as we did.
With the NCAA tournament complete our blog will return to our regular programing. We will continue to bring you informative articles that focus on educating husbands and fathers on their rights and options for navigating the difficult situations of divorce, custody, and other family law related issues.
The end of a romantic relationship is never easy. Add children to the equation and the complexity increases exponentially—it can be particularly difficult for men that developed a strong bond with their ex’s children. Terminating the relationship with mom usually means terminating the relationship with the kids, unless the man is the biological or adoptive father.
The prospect of severing ties with the kids can be devastating for both the man and the children. Assuming it is in the best interest of the children, what options do men have for maintaining contact post break-up?
There are two paths that can lead to the continuation of the relationship—visitation and custody. Visitation is frequently the most realistic vehicle to secure access for maintaining the bond between child and adult. Seeking custody can be difficult for anyone (Grandparents, extended family, etc.) unless there is sufficient reason based on protecting the child’s welfare.
What is the difference between custody and visitation?
Legal custody means that the parent (or guardian) has the right to make decisions regarding the needs of the child. These decisions include education, health care, religion and any other areas related to caring for and maintaining the wellbeing of the child.
Legal visitation in Oregon means the court has granted the noncustodial parent permission to visit the child. Visitation protects access to the child but doesn’t include the same decision making authority that is comes with custody.
In Oregon all custody and visitation decisions are based on what is best for the child. When making these decisions the court will use factors such as established relationships, the benefit or detriment of continuing a relationship, abuse, and the fitness of the primary caregiver.
Pursuing a continued relationship can be beneficial for both the adult and the child— and cultivating that contact will not create an obligation for the non-biological party to pay child support.
Stepfathers invest time, love, energy and financial resources into building stable and caring relationships with their children. But when faced with divorce, these caring and involved fathers can find their rights questioned. If you are a stepfather with divorce on the horizon, educate yourself on your options.
Speaking with an experienced divorce and family law attorney will provide you with accurate information about your rights, how to proceed, and potential outcomes of your case.
If you have legal questions, our managing attorney Colin Amos can provide you answers. Colin is happy to answer questions over the phone at no charge. And if your situation requires a more in-depth assessment, an in-office initial consultation is a flat fee of $95.
Call (503)731-8888 to speak with Colin today.
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Colin Amos stopped by “Sports 750 The Game” to chat all things family law. The first hot topic of the conversation addressed professional football star Deion Sander’s recent custody battle.
Sanders has been awarded full physical custody of his two older children and shared physical custody of the couple’s youngest daughter. But the custody wasn’t earned without a fight. The couple’s divorce has been contentious and has even resulted in restraining orders being filed.
On the heels of the discussing Sander’s restraining order, Colin dove into the question “what can men do to protect themselves from being falsely accused of domestic violence?” Colin’s advice—keep a level head, avoid heated arguments, and leave before a situation escalates.
Restraining orders and domestic violence should not be taken lightly. If your partner has joked about getting a restraining order it is important to take those statements seriously. Avoiding false allegations of domestic violence is often easier than navigating a he-said she-said situation. If you are concerned about false allegations or restraining orders, speak with a family law attorney. An experienced divorce lawyer can assess your situation and advise you on the best course of action.
Another question asked was “What is a contempt petition and when should one be filed?” Colin explained that a contempt petition is a tool used to enforce compliance of a court order. Meaning—the court has handed down an order, the individual named in the order is not adhering to it, and the court needs to step in to make sure the order is followed.
Colin commented that contempt petitions can be common when a court ordered parenting plan has been violated. One common scenario that calls for a contempt petition is when one parent is being denied their allotted time. There are two options for fathers being denied court ordered time with their kids: do nothing or enforce the court order.
Listen to Colin’s advice in the clip below and if you have legal question about contempt petitions, restraining orders, divorce, custody, or any other family law issues, call Colin directly at (503) 731-8888. Colin will answer you family law questions over the phone at no charge. If your situation requires a more in-depth analysis, initial consultations are a flat rate of $95.
For some fans, this year’s March Madness is more akin to March Sadness. The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament has been rife with unexpected upsets and top-seed eliminations. The unpredictable nature of the tournament lends to the excitement and fervor among fans, but this year’s competition has taken unpredictable to the next level.
Early upsets like 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast ousting 2 seed Georgetown in the first round and 9 seed Witchita taking out first seed Gonzaga have made this a tournament incalculable. Given the volatility of the tourney thus far, it is reasonable to expect the excitement to carry over into this weekend’s play.
Last week managing partner Rick Jones and managing attorney Colin Amos discussed the 2013 Division I Men’s Basketball tournament. Listen to the clip to hear their take on this year’s upsets, cinderella stories, and their picks for taking home the title.
Colin stopped by the studio and fielded some divorce and custody questions on air. With topics ranging from custody modifications to spousal support, Colin provided some legal insight to the often-complicated situations husbands and fathers face in divorce and custody cases. You can listen to all of Colin’s advice in the video.
I was told I can pick up documents at the courthouse for divorce, do I really need an attorney, how much does a divorce cost if I hire an attorney?
If you don’t have property, you don’t have kids, you don’t have debt, then you probably don’t need an attorney. If you have any of the above, then at the very least you need to educate yourself on how divorce will affect your specific circumstances. Speaking with a divorce attorney will help you evaluate your situation and understand what can be a complicated process.
The cost of a divorce can vary significantly and Colin compares it to buying a car. There is a broad spectrum of makes and models—all at different price points. Every divorce comes with its own set of issues and circumstances that will affect the final sticker price of a divorce.
Just like fixing anything that is broken, it is best to do it right the first time. Rather than creating a makeshift solution and then trying to fix the issue later or needing to repairing the repair, it is often more effective and efficient to make sure it is done properly form the get-go. The upfront cost of hiring an attorney may seem more expensive, but trying to overhaul a do-it-yourself divorce can be even more costly. A good attorney will work to minimize conflict, make the divorce process easier, and save you headaches in the long run.
I’m divorced and my kids are 16 and 13, and really want to live with me. My children are with me much more than the parenting plan states. I was told to wait until the kids finish the school year. Is this right?
Effectively, no. The process of a modification takes time, if you wait until the end of the school year to petition for modification could have additional implications. By the time the case reaches a judge the new school year may have already started and that can impact the final decision. The sooner you start, the easier it will be to adjust to a new routine.
I was divorced 6 months ago. In lieu of spousal support I gave my ex-wife $50,000 in cash. I make $250,000 a year and she makes $40,000 a year. She has spent the cash and is now threatening to take me back to court for spousal support. Can she do this?
No. There are some things you can’t fix. Once you have concluded your case and no spousal support was provided, you can’t go back later and add it. Spousal support can only be modified if it was part of the original divorce decree.
Divorce and custody issues are complicated. If you are dealing with any sort of family law concerns, please call our office (503) 731-8888. The best way to protect your rights is by educating yourself and Colin is happy to provide you answers over the phone at no charge.
It is that time of year again. Time to scour the internet for stats, brush up on our bracketology, and pick the winners. It is March, and that means one thing—NCAA College Basketball Tournament.
This year Goldberg Jones is excited to host a bracket challenge with a $250 Amazon gift card as the reward. In a winner takes all elimination, we will whittle down the playing field to one champion. That champion will have used their knowledge, intuition, and possibly psychic ability to outwit all others by creating the ultimate bracket.
You can join the Goldberg Jones bracket challenge by heading over to Yahoo Sports and joining the Goldberg Jones group. The group ID number is 21981. You will be able to fill out your bracket beginning on March 17. But don’t lollygag—brackets must be completed by March 21.
Once you have made your picks, you can follow the madness by liking the Goldberg Jones facebook page and following us on Twitter. We will be posting the results of each round and tweeting during games. Be sure to share the Goldberg Jones Bracket Challenge with your friends and leave comments on our Facebook page. We will be giving out free high fives to everyone who participates.
While we are in the giving mood, we are also happy to announce we will be giving discounted consultations to our Facebook friends. Between March 17 and April 9 you can schedule an in-office divorce or custody consultation for only $50. During your initial consultation, you will meet with our managing attorney to discuss your unique circumstances and your rights as a man. That is almost 50% off the usual initial consultation fee. For more info about our March Madness consult deal, head over to our Facebook page.