Every Oregon Divorce is Different
WE UNDERSTAND THAT ENDING A MARRIAGE IS NEVER EASY
Even when both spouses can agree that divorce is the best option, it can still be an emotional process. And at its worst, the emotions that splitting up causes can turn every issue into a disagreement, even those in which it seemed there would be a mutual understanding and agreement. At the Portland family law firm of Gearing Rackner & McGrath, LLP, we represent clients going through the difficult process of divorce. Having been serving clients across Oregon and Washington for several decades, our attorneys understand that clients often need more than just an attorney.
Divorce in Oregon and Washington
In both Oregon and Washington, the legal process of divorce is referred to as the “dissolution of marriage.” Both states are “no-fault” states, meaning that neither party needs to show that the other was at fault for the deterioration of the marriage. However, the actual termination of a legal marriage is the final step in a series of other issues that must be resolved. While many decisions must be made throughout the course of a divorce proceeding, judges presiding over a divorce must primarily make the following determinations:
• Division of property
• Child custody
• Child support
• Spousal support
Each of these issues can affect the lives of the parties for a long time to come. However, just because a marriage is ending does not mean that there cannot be agreement on some issues. In many cases, the best results for our clients have come through skillful negotiation rather than ardent litigation. Unfortunately, a collaborative approach is not always possible or practical.
The division of property is one of the most contentious issues in any divorce proceeding.
Oregon and Washington use different methods when it comes to dividing assets during a divorce. Oregon is an equitable distribution state, meaning that courts will distribute assets to each spouse based on what is fair, but not necessarily equal. On the other hand, Washington is a community property state. Thus, Washington judges typically divide assets evenly between the parties.
In most states, before a judge gets to dividing a couple’s assets, the court must first determine which of the couple’s assets are marital assets or community property. Oregon, however, is different in that assets that were obtained by a spouse before the marriage may be subject to equitable distribution.
Another unique aspect of Oregon divorce law is that there is not a statutorily defined list of factors that a judge must consider when dividing property. By statute, courts must only consider the contributions of the spouses, including any contributions as a homemaker. Beyond that, the courts have broad discretion when conducting the equitable distribution analysis.
Division of Property in Oregon Divorces
Notably, there is a presumption that each spouse contributed equally to any assets that were acquired during marriage, including appreciation on premarital assets. That presumption can only be rebutted by persuasive evidence that one spouse contributed much more than the other.
Once the court determines which parent will have primary custody, the court will then order visitation pursuant to an Oregon parenting plan. A parenting plan is a legal document that details the amount of time a child spends with each parent and the rules for the same. A parenting plan may be the product of a mutual agreement between parents or, if the parents cannot agree, the court will create a parenting plan.
Courts prefer that the parents at least try to come up with a workable parenting plan on their own, often through mediation. However, if the parties cannot reach an agreement on their own, a court-ordered parenting plan will be required.
Schedule a Consultation with an Oregon Divorce Attorney
If you are considering filing for divorce or believe that your spouse is contemplating a divorce, contact one of the dedicated family law attorneys at Gearing, Rackner & McGrath, LLP. As committed divorce lawyers, we have extensive experience handling divorce cases as well as the related issues that frequently come up when going through a divorce, including child custody and child support. To learn more about how our award-winning attorneys can help you, call us at 503-222-9116 or contact us through our online form to learn more about how we can help.