Peace of Mind During an Oregon Divorce
While every divorce is different, for the majority of splitting couples, the process is not an easy one. For those who have not been through the process before, the uncertainty involved in getting a divorce only adds to what is already a stressful and trying time. At Gearing, Rackner & McGrath, LLP, we provide honest, trusted guidance and representation to individuals who are going through a divorce. We understand the emotional and financial challenges that come along with getting a Portland divorce, and do everything we can to provide our clients with peace of mind.
The Oregon Divorce Process
In helping clients through the divorce process for over 15 years, we have found that providing some idea of what to expect throughout the Oregon divorce process is a good first step to easing our clients’ anxieties.
In Oregon, the legal process of divorce is referred to as the “dissolution of marriage.” To file for an Oregon dissolution of marriage, the filing party must meet the residency requirement. Specifically, a party can file for divorce if the marriage took place in Oregon and one spouse still lives in the state. Alternatively, a party can file if either spouse has lived in the state for at least six months.
Oregon is a no-fault state, meaning that neither party needs to prove that the other was at fault for the deterioration of the marriage. Instead, either spouse can file based on “irreconcilable differences.”
Once a party files for divorce, the court must resolve several issues before the divorce is final. These issues include:
- Division of property
- Child custody
- Child support
- Spousal support
In some cases, the parties are able to agree on some of these issues. This can provide each spouse with valuable certainty, as they can negotiate the outcome rather than leave their fate in the hands of a judge who is unfamiliar with the couple’s situation. Additionally, working through some or all of these issues in advance may avoid some of the stresses of litigation.
There are a few ways a couple can go about resolving the issues on their own:
- 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 resolve 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.
Of course, not every couple can agree to work through their issues in a productive manner. In these situations, litigation is the likely result. The litigation process entails each party hiring their own attorney to represent only their interests. Litigation 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.
Specifics of Oregon Divorce Law
If the parties cannot agree to resolve the property division, child custody, child support and spousal support issues, the court will hear evidence and issue a ruling on each of these issues.
Oregon is an equitable distribution state, meaning that courts will distribute assets to each spouse based on what is fair, but not necessarily equal. Oregon law is unique in that assets obtained by a spouse before the marriage may be subject to equitable distribution.
When it comes to dividing marital assets, an Oregon divorce judge has broad discretion and is not bound by a statutory list of factors. However, courts must consider the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker to the acquisition of marital assets.
When deciding child custody issues, Oregon courts are bound to follow what is in the best interest of the child. Under state law, a judge must consider the following factors:
- The parties’ interest in the child;
- The parties’ attitude towards the child;
- Whether either party engaged in any abuse of the child;
- The benefit of a continued relationship with each party;
- The child’s relationship with other family members;
- The child’s preference (with more weight being afforded to older children); and
- The willingness of each parent to foster a close and continuing relationship with the child and the other parent.
Following a divorce, both parents have a legal responsibility to provide for their children. While the right to child support technically belongs to the child, the custodial parent will often receive child support payments from the non-custodial parent. Courts will consider the following when making child support determinations:
- Each parents’ income,
- The amount of time the children spend with each parent,
- Child care costs,
- he cost of medical insurance, and
- Ongoing medical expenses not covered by insurance.
Spousal support or spousal maintenance refers to regular payments made from one spouse to the other after a divorce is final. The purposes of spousal support vary, depending on the type sought. However, courts will consider the following when reviewing a party’s request for spousal support:
- The length of the marriage;
- The requesting spouse’s training, employment skills, and work experience;
- The financial needs and resources of each spouse;
- The tax ramifications spousal support will have on each spouse;
- Whether either spouse has custody of a child or pays child support; and
- Any other factors that are appropriate to consider in creating a fair order.
Reach Out to a Dedicated Portland Divorce Lawyer for Immediate Assistance
If you are in the process of filing for divorce, or are considering filing in the near future, contact the respected Oregon family law attorneys at Gearing, Rackner & McGrath, LLP. As committed divorce lawyers, we have extensive experience handling Portland divorce cases as well as the related issues that frequently come up throughout the divorce process, including the determination of spousal support. We also handle modifications to existing spousal support orders. We provide custom-tailored legal advice and solutions for clients throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, including in Multnomah County, Clackamas County, Washington County, Clatsop County, Columbia County, Yamhill County, Clark County, Cowlitz County, Skamania County and Klickitat County. To learn more about how our award-winning attorneys can assist you in a spousal support or modification order, call us at 503-222-9116 or contact us through our online form to learn more about how we can help.