Custody Rights in Oregon
July 25, 2007 5:26 PM   Subscribe

How easy is it to obtain temporary full custody in Oregon?

I'm asking for a friend, but I will try to give as much information as I can.

My friend's husband has a 6 year old from a previous marriage.

While we all had a suspicion that the environment at the ex-wife's house was less than ideal, this past weekend his ex wife hit bottom and we were told that she is checking her self into rehab for drug and alcohol treatment.

I'm not really sure how bad the situation was, or how much he was aware of before this week, but I know that she has been described as a chronic alcoholic, and all of the drama this week has included her admitting that she is broke due to spending her income on booze, and that she has threatened suicide. His focus is on making sure his daughter is safe while her mother gets the help she needs, but he is afraid of her showing up at the daycare and taking the girl, or any other circumstance before the ex-wife has gotten the help she needs to again be a parent.

Currently they have equal custody rights, with alternating weekends days and weekends.

He would like to have temporary full custody of his child- for at the very least a month.

Their main questions are:

Does he need a lawyer or is this something he can do on his own- and if he can do this on his own, where does he start?

Is this even a thing that can be done?

Are there any resources he can seek out in Oregon that deal with these circumstances? He lives in Clackamas County if that is relevant.

Thanks everyone- this is a sticky situation for all involved.
posted by haplesschild to Law & Government (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can only speak from my experience with custody situations in Philadelphia, I don't know anything about Oregon but maybe your friend can find this helpful.

First, in custody askme threads there are usually about 10 responses from people telling the asker to go to "legal aid" for representation. This is generally poor advice offered by people with little to no experience with free legal services. Everyone has custody issues. Everyone takes them to legal assistance offices. These offices, at least in Pennsylvania, do not EVER handle a custody situation. If they handled custody, all they would ever do is handle custody. Then they wouldn't be able to represent other kinds of needy clients.

Family court in Philadelphia allows you to file for temporary custody without representation. In Philadelphia, you generally need a subpeona to enter the courthouse, but if you tell the guards at the door that you need to file for custody they will refer you to an information desk where you'll be walked through the process.

In Philadelphia, family court moves slow. The date you'll receive for a hearing after you file will probably be 90 days or more from the time you submit the request. If your friend is concerned about the welfare of his child he is going to need an emergency order for temporary custody and he's going to have to show cause for this. I don't know that you can get that without representation, maybe you can. In the cases where my clients were awarded an emergency order to take physical custody of a child, a pro bono attorney was the one making it happen. Everybod else who can't afford a lawyer waits it out until the court gets to them.
posted by The Straightener at 7:34 PM on July 25, 2007

He absolutely needs a lawyer. Do not wait. Take a day or two off, mortgage the house and find a good one. This is the best advice to be given.

The above said, IANAL, but I suffered my own custody battle in WI/MN. I received temporary full custody after similar circumstances - but the process essentially requires a lawyer.

That is to say, it can be done. Depending on circumstances, it can be done quickly. In my case, once she was served, I had custody in less than a month. However, it took 9 months to serve her, and she missed the first two court dates. YMMV.

I do not know of any resources in Oregon, unfortunately - and to be honest, the men's groups and whatnot in WI and MN were less than useful when I needed advice and support. A good lawyer should be help enough, though.

I offer my support, and a reminder to keep his chin up. The custody process is designed to make people insane, I am sure of it. That said, patience and a commitment to always being the better person will absolutely pay off in the long run.

Hope this helps. Good luck.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:38 PM on July 25, 2007

He absolutely needs a lawyer. Do not wait. Take a day or two off, mortgage the house and find a good one.

Seconded. This is great advice.

A lot of people, when faced with a situation like this, think "mortgage my house to pay a lawyer? you must be nuts!" but when they lose the legal battle they tried to pinch pennies on, that house starts to look a lot less valuable ...
posted by jayder at 8:53 PM on July 25, 2007

Having been through this myself (in PDX, no less), I nth the above comments: get a lawyer. You have a chance without a lawyer, but you might need a degree in statistics or probability related fields to even see it.

We thought we were in like Flynn when my wife's ex went batshitinsane and got booked by the cops (minor stuff, but heavy on the crazy and knives and explosives), only to find that his aunt bailed him out, and his status of legal custodian was completely unchanged. Seeing your kid (or a kid in your charge) yanked out of day care by the OSP while all you can do is look on at her sobbing is not an experience I would care to repeat nor wish on anyone.

I say again, don't presume that the other parent's obvious incapacity will magically drop custody in your lap -- get a lawyer.
posted by drfu at 1:20 AM on July 26, 2007

Does he need a lawyer

Yes. He probably could remove his own appendix with enough explanation and insight from those who know what they are doing, but it would probably be better for him to get a surgeon to do it.
posted by dios at 8:05 AM on July 27, 2007

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