Child Custody Attorney

25487205_sMaking sure you get the proper legal advice, representation and guidance when it comes to you subject of child custody is of the most importance. Grants Pass child custody attorney Wendy Levy specializes in the custody rights for parents, using her experience and knowledge of the Oregon laws to make sure her client is provided every legal right in the quest for a fair and reasonable custody agreement. Wendy will provide legal representation in a strong and deliberate manner providing a strong foundation for any child custody challenge that may come her clients way.

Whether its the first step in a child custody situation or the modification of a current custody order, child custody attorney Wendy Levy in Grants Pass can answer the questions and provide the guidance on how to handle something so important can be intimidating and at times confusing.

Here are just a few of the many question that may come to mind.

I agreed to Joint Custody in my divorce or custody case and now its not working out. What can I do to change it?
Answer: A lot of people decide to agree to joint custody of the children, in their divorce or custody case. In Oregon, a judge cannot award joint custody, so if a case goes to trial, custody is going to one or the other parent. But people can agree to joint custody. Lawyers like myself who practice family law, make money off of clients who agreed to joint custody initially because they saw it as a good way to settle a nasty case. A few months or years down the road, its not working out and truth be told, they probably should never have agreed to it in the first place. Joint custody works well for couples who can remain friends after the relationship is over. In order to successfully have a joint custody arrangement, you have to be able to feel you can call your ex and discuss important issues regarding the children having to do with religion,education and health. If things go sour after the relationship is over, its going to be hard to successfully deal with a joint custody order.

Once joint custody no longer works, the best thing to do is go back to court and file a modification. Its difficult to modify a sole custody order, but to change a joint custody order, you merely have to state that joint custody no longer works. Nonetheless, once you go back to court and ask for sole custody, chances are strong, the other party will respond that they want sole custody. The solution is either working something out in mediation, in a settlement, or trial.

I am an every other weekend parent. I want more time with my children. What can I do?
Answer: If you are a caring involved parent, chances are good if you file to modify a parenting plan, you will get more time with your children. Problems sometimes arise when parents live in different towns and the children are school age. If the distance between your home, and the home of the other parent with whom the children live, is within a 20-30 minute drive, if you don’t mind driving to your childrens’ school to pick them up and drop them off, you can ask to extend your time with the kids. Some non-custodial parents pick their kids up after school on a Friday and keep them until a Monday morning, when they drop them off at school. On occasion, this can be extended to picking them Thursday after school, taking them to school and picking up on Friday, having them over the weekend until Monday morning when they are once again dropped at school.

If you live too far to drive the kids back and forth to school, some parents change their parenting plans so they get more time in the summer, or every spring break. I always advise my noncustodial parents to ask for the 3 or 4 day long weekends that occur during the school year.

Whether there is a legal holiday or school is out due to parent teacher conferences, nearly every month has a long weekend

I have a medical marijuana card. Marijuana is legal now anyway. How will a judge look at my
medicinal use of marijuana when it comes to ruling on my parenting time with my children?

The Court has the power to consider what are called “lifestyle” factors in determining custody and parenting time, but only if those factors are shown to cause emotional or physical damage to the children. Up until recently, those lifestyle factors were typically limited to issues regarding marital status, income, decisions regarding new relationships, and then, only if the evidence showed a new relationship had some sort of impact on the children. There have been cases where a court has ruled that a decision to engage in a homosexual or lesbian relationship cannot be considered during a hearing unless there was evidence presented whereby a judge could find that relationship endangered the children. In August 2015, the Oregon appellate court ruled that a parent’s possession of a medical marijuana card, marijuana use and employment in a medical marijuana dispensary cannot be considered by a court in making a custody decision without evidence that the parent’s use would likely endanger the health, safety or welfare of the child. In fact, the court has an obligation to explain how those choices might damage the children or threaten their welfare.

I recently represented a parent who used marijuana medicinally even during parenting time. The opposing party sought to severely restrict my client’s time with the children, arguing that at times, she was seen smoking marijuana and sometime later, drove with the children. My client testified to using the medicine responsibly, and that she was never impaired around the children. She testified the marijuana was kept out of sight and locked up at all times, and she used it when the children were asleep, and smoked it outdoors. With regards to the issue of driving, there was no testimony regarding observations of unsafe driving. My client did not get custody but only because the other parent had more parenting time with the children overall, since the separation. My client did get a substantial award of unsupervised parenting time.

The take away- if you have a medical marijuana card, or use marijuana, always follow the law. Do not drive impaired. Do not take a chance of driving impaired. Keep your marijuana out of your children’s sight and never use it around your children. Never use marijuana recreationally in the presence of your children, and never use it to the extent your parenting ability is impaired or affected. So long as you follow those precautions, your legal use of marijuana cannot be used against you in a court hearing determining custody or parenting time.