October 3, 2007

News: Britney loses temporary custody of children

We here at the Oregon Divorce Blog confess that we occasionally — OK, sometimes — follow the antics of celebrity disaster Britney Spears. It was our luck today, though, that Britney’s woes provided a window into the world of child custody.

Britney was in court in California today, along with her ex, Kevin Federline, at a hearing regarding custody of her two sons. On Monday, the judge in the case ordered Britney to turn over the boys to Kevin, after Britney didn’t appear for a drug and alcohol test. CNN noted that both Britney and Kevin will have to complete parenting classes, as well.

Oregon courts operate much the same way. If there is an action pending before the court (either because a petition for dissolution or custody has been filed, or because a dissolution or custody determination has already been granted), one party may apply for temporary emergency custody when a child is in danger. ORS 107.097(3) provides that:

(3)(a) A court may enter ex parte a temporary order providing for the custody of, or parenting time with, a child if:

(A) The party requesting an order is present in court and presents an affidavit alleging that the child is in immediate danger; and

(B) The court finds, based on the facts presented in the party’s testimony and affidavit and in the testimony of the other party, if the other party is present, that the child is in immediate danger.

(b) The party requesting an order under this subsection shall provide the court with telephone numbers where the party can be reached at any time during the day and a contact address.

(c) A copy of the order and the supporting affidavit must be served on the other party in the manner of service of a summons under ORCP 7. The order must include the following statement:

____________________________________________________________________________ Notice: You may request a hearing on this order as long as it remains in effect by filing with the court a hearing request in the form described in ORS 107.097 (5).

ORS 107.097(3).

If the other party requests a hearing, the court must make every effort to grant the hearing within 14 days (and no later than 21 days). Id.

In Oregon, the parties to a custody dispute (whether or not the parents are married) are also, like Kevin and Britney, required to take a parenting class. Here, the parties must either complete the classes before a judgment is entered in the case, or the court must specifically waive the requirement. Each county mandates its own program, although parents may ask the court to allow them to take online classes if they have special circumstances that would make attending local classes difficult.