January 8, 2010

New Case Law – Third-Party Custody and Parenting Time

On January 6, 2010, the Oregon Court of Appeals made a ruling in Hanson-Parmer and Parmer on the issue of what evidence is required to demonstrate a “child-parent relationship” under ORS 109.119. The entire opinion can be found here: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/A133335.htm

In Oregon, third parties (meaning not a child’s biological parents) can assert rights to custody and/or visitation. In order to do so they have to meet certain threshold tests. In March of 2005, wife filed a petition for divorce. Husband and wife had three children together and wife had another child, D. Husband, in a counterclaim filed in December of 2005, asserted that he is entitled to parenting time with D because he had established a parent-child relationship with D. For at least the six months proceeding wife’s filing, husband did not have any parenting time with D. Starting in July of 2005, husband had regular and consistent parenting time with D. The trial court ruled in husband’s favor and provided him with ongoing parenting time. The court of appeals reversed and ruled that “husband is not the psychological parent of D and is not entitled to parenting time or visitation with D.”

ORS 109.119 (10)(a) provides, in part that a “‘[c]hild-parent relationship’ means a relationship that exists or did exist, in whole or in part, within the six months preceding the filing of an action under this section, and in which relationship a person having physical custody of a child or residing in the same household as the child supplied, or otherwise made available to the child, food, clothing, shelter and incidental necessaries and provided the child with necessary care, education and discipline, and which relationship continued on a day-to-day basis, through interaction, companionship, interplay and mutuality, that fulfilled the child’s psychological needs for a parent as well as the child’s physical needs.” To determine whether a child-parent relationship exists the court must look at the six-months preceding husband’s counterclaim to determine whether his relationship with D meets the requirements of the statute. Husband did not have physical custody of D during those six months, nor did he reside in the same household as D. Husband was not able to meet the requirements of the statute.