When fathers in Oregon consider divorce, they may hold back from leaving a clearly unhealthy relationship because they are worried about losing their relationship with their children. However, across the country, family courts increasingly favor joint custody and give both fathers and mothers an equal space to seek custody of their children. Even when physical custody rests primarily with one parent, joint legal custody is generally favored to recognize both parents’ important roles in major decisions about the children’s future.
Historically, fathers were often treated as less important to the social and emotional development of children. As fathers have become more actively involved in nurturing children, the family courts’ approach to involved fathers have also changed. There are a number of factors that can go into a custody decision. In the case of a divorce where the child was living with both parents, there is usually a preference for some type of joint or shared custody. The situation may be more complex if the child had little or no relationship in the past with one of the parents.
Some of the factors considered in custody cases include the ability of the parents to provide for the children, the environment in each parent’s home, the mental and physical health of the parents and the ties between parents and children. Previous incidents of child abuse or neglect can be considered. If the child is older, his or her thoughts and feelings about custody may be given a significant amount of weight.
Fathers do not need to stay in unhappy relationships in order to protect their loving bond with their children. A family law attorney may work with a divorcing father to reach a settlement on issues like child support and child custody.