What Does a Collaborative Divorce Mean for Oregon Parents?

What Does a Collaborative Divorce Mean for Oregon Parents?

People marry for different reasons. Some couples seek a marital relationship because of their love and commitment. Others may want the security of marriage through financial benefits, companionship and support. Individuals with religious and cultural teachings enter marital unions to comply with their beliefs. However, marriages sometimes lead to divorce.

In 2020, the United States had over 1.6 million marriages with more than 600,000 divorces. Oregon averages 25,000 marriages annually. Approximately 50 percent of the amount of divorce occurs in the state.

The decision to end a marriage can take emotional, physical and financial tolls on the spouses. In some instances, only one person wants a divorce. The other person may become angry, sad, depressed and even unwilling to accept that the relationship is over. Eventually, the disagreeing spouse may participate in the divorce process without causing unnecessary disputes or delays. Even when both spouses want to dissolve the marriage, they may disagree on how to resolve specific issues.

A standard method to divorce is for one spouse to file a petition with the appropriate state court asking to end the marriage. In Oregon, the spouse files a petition for dissolution of marriage, which begins the divorce process. The costs of a divorce in the court system can significantly increase throughout the case. A collaborative divorce is an alternative means to obtain a divorce.

A collaborative divorce allows spouses to resolve their disputes and negotiate the terms of their dissolution of marriage out of the court. It typically is less expensive than filing a case with the court but addresses the same issues. In a collaborative divorce, the divorcing couple discusses child custody, child support, parenting time, spousal support and property division.

Unlike divorces handled by a court, collaborative divorce is voluntary. A team of collaborative professionals assists the spouses in reaching an agreement on the divorce terms. The team members may include each party's collaborative divorce attorney, a family lawyer, financial planners, mental health professionals, child specialists and real estate professionals.

Before the process begins, the spouses and attorneys sign a contract that lists the collaboration rules. It also has a provision that informs the parties that failure to reach an agreement disqualifies their attorneys. Therefore, the attorney cannot represent them afterward in the divorce case they file with the court.

The goal of a collaborative divorce is for the parties to reach an agreement. If they do, the attorneys submit the agreement to the court. The judge reviews the terms to ensure they comply with the law. Any terms involving children must reflect the child's best interest. After the judge’s approval, the court makes a final order that makes the terms effective and dissolves the marriage.

A major benefit of a collaborative divorce is privacy. The process protects the privacy of the negotiations. When a court oversees the dissolution case, the court records may become public at some point. Privacy aids in a health transition after the divorce and shields the children from certain information.

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