FAQ

Divorce

Do You Need a Divorce?

An Oregon divorce is called a dissolution of marriage. It is necessary to legally end a marriage or registered domestic partnership (RDP) between a same-sex couple. If you want to marry again, or separate your financial and credit history from your former partner, you will need to file a petition and go through the divorce process.

Do You Need a Reason to Get Divorced in Oregon?

Oregon is a “no-fault” divorce state. That means if either spouse or partner wants to dissolve the marriage, that spouse may request a dissolution of marriage without showing the other has done anything wrong. Instead, your Oregon divorce lawyer will help you prepare a petition that cites “irreconcilable differences that have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage.” In other words, that the marriage has broken down and can’t be fixed.

How Do Judges Handle Children in a Divorce?

Oregon family law judges apply the same rules for child custody and parenting time in a divorce or custody action between unmarried parents. The court will consider what is best for the child before awarding child custody (decision-making authority) and creating a parenting time plan that assigns visitation times for each parent. In most cases, the court will encourage the parties to resolve child custody and parenting time disputes themselves through mediation and other forms of negotiation. This is generally best for all involved. However, when the parties cannot agree, the court is able to make the final decision.

Can You Get Alimony in an Oregon Divorce?

Alimony is now called spousal support or partner support. It isn’t granted in every case, but if you have been in a long marriage, need help transitioning back into the workforce, or have become used to a particular lifestyle, the court may grant you spousal support. This award could be transitional (short-term), compensatory (part of the distribution of assets), or maintenance support.

What Property are You Entitled to in a Divorce?

Oregon is an equitable distribution state. In a divorce, the court will distribute the spouses’ assets and debts in a way the court thinks is fair. This includes anything in the inventory of property owned or debts acquired by either spouse during the marriage. Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to equity from your home, a portion of your spouse’s 401k, or ongoing pension payments even long after the divorce is settled. It is important to discuss your short- and long-term priorities with an experienced Oregon divorce lawyer so that you can be sure to have assets to cover your immediate needs, as well as provide for your future.

How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

There is no one price for a dissolution of marriage. The court charges a filing fee, as well as additional fees for services, settlement conferences, and the trial. The more hearings you take to resolve your case, the more you will pay to the courts. The same is true for attorney fees. Whether you work with a divorce consultant, hire a lawyer to draft up your agreement with your spouse, or need to litigate all the details, it will affect how much you will pay your lawyer. The longer, and more complicated your case becomes, the more you can expect to pay in legal fees.

Family Law

Do You Need a Child Custody and Parenting Time Order?

Not every parent needs a child custody and parenting time order. Some unmarried couples are able to work together to make sure their children develop strong connections to both parents. However, eventually, most couples find themselves disagreeing over how their children will be raised or where they will spend their days. When that happens, a petition for child custody and parenting time should be filed.

How Does the Oregon Court Decide Who Gets Custody?

Oregon family law judges decide a dispute over child custody and parenting time based on the best interest of the child. To reach that decision, the court will consider:

  • The child’s emotional ties with other family members
  • The parents’ attitude toward and interest in the child
  • Whether it is desirable to continue an existing relationship
  • Abuse by either parent
  • The child’s preference as to primary caregiver (if that caregiver is fit)
  • Each parent’s willingness to facilitate the child’s relationship with the other parent

Should You Agree to Joint Custody?

Custody involves determining which parent (or parents) should be involved in major life decisions, like religion, education, and health care. This can be shared (joint) or awarded to just one parent (sole). If you and your child’s other parent can work together and generally share similar opinions on these major life issues, then joint custody may be appropriate. However, in high conflict cases, agreeing to joint custody may mean you will need to return to court to fight for sole custody later on.

What is a Parenting Plan?

Oregon divides the time children spend with their separated parents according to a parenting plan. All child custody orders must include a parenting plan. They may be general and flexible, or detailed and specific. However, at minimum it must identify how much time is awarded to the parent who does not have custody.

Will You Have to Pay Child Support?

There is almost always child support involved in a child custody and parenting time case. Oregon uses standardized guidelines to calculate who pays child support, and how much. These guidelines look at:

  • Each parent’s income (including spousal support)
  • How much time the child spends with each parent
  • Health insurance costs
  • Child care costs

The bigger the difference between the parents’ income or parenting time responsibilities, the more likely it is you will have to pay child support.

What if the Other Parent’s Paternity Hasn’t Been Established?

Before the court can issue a child custody and parenting time order, a child’s biological father or second parent’s legal relationship must be established. When a parent (usually the mother) is unmarried and the father has not been declared a legal parent, the court will need to hear a case for paternity before deciding issues of custody, parenting time, or child support. This may include DNA testing, testimony, or other proof that the other parent is the biological parent of the child.

How Much Does it Cost to Get Custody?

There is no set price for a child custody and parenting time case. The court charges a filing fee for petitions and responses. There are also additional fees for services, settlement conferences, and the trial. The more hearings it takes to resolve your case, the more you will pay. The same is true for attorney fees. The longer, and more complicated your case becomes, the more you can expect to pay in legal fees.

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