Oregon Collaborative Divorce Attorneys
The process of going through an Oregon divorce is generally seen as stressful and contentious. However, that does not necessarily need to be the case. Oregon law allows for couples to use a collaborative divorce attorney to work through the many issues that must be decided during a divorce. If both spouses are willing to engage in the collaborative process, it can reduce much of the anxiety that is typically associated with a divorce.
At Gearing, Rackner & McGrath, LLP, our dedicated team of Oregon collaborative divorce attorneys are skilled at constructively working through major issues such as the division of property and child custody. We understand and appreciate the benefits that the collaborative process can provide to our clients and are skilled at coming up with fair agreements that are acceptable to both sides.
What Is an Oregon Collaborative Divorce?
While the general consensus is that an Oregon divorce has to be a messy process in which each party digs in their heels and takes a razed-earth approach, that is not the case with a collaborative divorce. A collaborative divorce is a means by which a couple can get divorced without needing to go through the litigation process. In fact, in a collaborative divorce, a judge has no decision-making power and the parties are free to come up with their own solution to the issues that must be decided. To better understand what a collaborative divorce is, it is useful to go over the different methods of divorce:
- Litigation – Each party hires their own attorney to represent only their interests. The parties then submit their dispute to a judge who decides the issues. This is generally regarded as the most stressful and most costly type of divorce but may be the only option in situations where the parties cannot agree on the crucial issues.
- Mediation – The parties and their respective attorneys meet with a neutral third-party mediator, who helps them work through the issues that must be decided.
- Arbitration – The parties and their respective attorneys present their case to a neutral third-party decision-maker, who will make decisions on all of the disputes between the parties.
- Collaboration – The couple, with the assistance of their attorneys, work through the issues to come to their own solution, often with the assistance of other professionals such as tax or child custody experts.
The collaborative divorce is not for all couples because the process requires divorcing spouses to work together in pursuit of their shared goals. Thus, often couples with children will choose to pursue a collaborative divorce over the other alternatives. The process relies on four key elements:
1. The free flow of relevant information between the parties;
2. The agreement not to resort to litigation as well as the agreement that both attorneys will withdraw if litigation become imminent;
3. An attorney’s agreement to use their skills to come to a solution that is acceptable to both parties, without the need for judicial decision-making; and
4. A commitment to respect each parties’ shared goals.
By agreeing to share relevant information and work toward a common goal, optimal solutions can often be realized. Of course, it is important to keep in mind that, even in the collaborative process, each party is advocating for their own best interest. The idea behind a collaborative divorce is that, by working within the framework of common understanding, each party may be able to obtain what is important to them without the stress, expense and uncertainty of the traditional litigation-focused approach.
If, for any reason, the collaborative approach breaks down, then each parties’ attorney will withdraw from the case and the parties will be free to pursue litigation, mediation or arbitration, using a different attorney.
What Issues Must Be Decided in an Oregon Divorce?
In Oregon, the legal process of divorce is called the “dissolution of marriage.” Oregon is a “no-fault” state, meaning that neither party needs to establish that the other committed any wrong or was otherwise at fault for the deterioration of the marriage. However, before a marriage can be dissolved, certain issues must be addressed. While many decisions must be made throughout the course of a divorce proceeding, typically the parties to an Oregon divorce must make the following determinations:
- Division of property and assignment of debts
- Child custody and parenting time
- Child support
- Spousal support
Of course, all of these issues will affect the lives of both parties to the divorce. However, just because a marriage is ending does not mean that there cannot be agreement on some issues. In fact, some of the best results come through the collaborative process, rather than through litigation.
When Do Collaborative Divorces Work Best?
When a couple decides to divorce, one of the first decisions they must make is what sort of method to use. Because collaborative divorces typically cost less money and are less stressful, many couples agree to set aside their differences and work towards certain common goals. For example, couples who have children or who share many mutual friends may decide to pursue a collaborative divorce. Additionally, while traditional divorces are a part of the public record, collaborative divorces have more options to preserve your privacy.
Another reason why some couples choose a collaborative divorce is that the process allows for a couple to get direct help from professionals who are experts in the issues at hand. For example, the following professionals are routinely brought into a collaborative divorce to help the parties understand the implications of a decision and, perhaps, suggest a fair resolution:
- Child specialists: A child specialist is a neutral third-party who represents the interest of a child during a collaborative divorce. Often, child specialists are either psychologists or Licensed Clinical Social Workers who have experience dealing with the issues that children deal with during their parents’ divorce.
- Financial specialists: A financial specialist is a trained financial professional who can help the collaborative law team come to an optimal financial agreement. Financial professionals can help with tax consequences, budgeting, child support determinations and asset valuations.
- Real estate specialists: For couples who own commercial property, the division of assets can be extremely complex. To help navigate these issues, couples will often bring in a real estate specialist who is trained in valuing or selling commercial real estate assets.
- Business specialists: If one or both parties own a business, either individually or together, a business specialist can help the parties understand the implications of continuing to run the business jointly or instead closing or reshaping the business.
Of course, collaborative divorces will not make sense for every couple. For example, the collaborative divorce process will not succeed if the parties cannot come to an agreement on basic issues, or if one spouse does not agree to the collaborative approach. The collaborative process can also be counter-productive when domestic abuse has occurred.
Schedule a Consultation with an Oregon Divorce Attorney
If you and your spouse are considering filing for divorce and want to work together to come to a solution that is fair to both parties, contact one of the dedicated Oregon collaborative law attorneys at Gearing, Rackner & McGrath, LLP. As committed Portland divorce lawyers, we have extensive experience handling all types of Portland divorce cases as well as the related issues that frequently come up when going through a divorce, including child custody and child support. We routinely consult with a team of specialists when handling collaborative divorces, including child specialists and financial specialists, to help our clients ensure that what they agree to is truly in their best interest. To learn more about how our award-winning attorneys can help you through this process, call us at 503-222-9116 or contact us through our online form to learn more about how we can help.