Frequently Asked Questions
Will I have to go to court?
Not necessarily. Generally speaking, going to court is only required when a dispute cannot be resolved without a judge’s intervention.
For instance, if arrangements regarding living situations, parenting plans, or support during the pendency of the case cannot be agreed upon, a judge is sometimes required. Or, if the final terms of the divorce or separation cannot be negotiated, then the case may go to trial. If the parties are able to reach agreement on all necessary issues you will never need to go to court during the dissolution.
Sometimes cases need to be reopened after Final Judgment because of errors or omissions in the Judgment itself. Such actions are costly and time-consuming. It is important to consult an attorney to avoid such mistakes.
If one spouse wants a divorce can the other spouse stop it?
No. Oregon is a “no-fault” divorce state. A spouse does not need to prove there was any wrongdoing for a court to grant a divorce. He or she need only assert that “irreconcilable differences” have caused the “irremediable breakdown of the marriage.” If one spouse wants a divorce the other spouse cannot stop the court from granting one.
How is child support calculated?
Oregon law provides specific guidelines for determining the presumptive child support. The Guidelines Calculator is available at: https://justice.oregon.gov/guidelines/. Courts can deviate from the presumptive amount of child support if certain “rebuttal factors” are present. These factors include, but are not limited to the presence of a other available resources of one of the parents, a parent’s special hardship, or a child not living with the parents.
How will assets be divided?
Oregon law provides a framework for dividing assets that allows for significant flexibility in the allocation of each asset but requires that the overall division be just and proper. The first step is determining whether the an asset was acquired during the marriage and therefore is considered a “marital asset,” or before the marriage, in which case it will be considered simply “marital property.”
Assets acquired during a marriage in Oregon generally are subject to the “presumption of equal contribution,” meaning they are subject to being divided equally during a divorce. The presumption of equal contribution does not apply to assets acquired prior to the marriage. In respect to such assets, the courts will only consider what is “just and proper.”
If you and your spouse are able to reach a reasonable agreement as to how your assets are to be divided, the court will approve it. If not, the court will divide them equitably based on appropriate legal guidelines. The courts may consider other circumstances, such as the duration of the marriage and the relative economic circumstances of each spouse, when determining how to divide assets equitably.
The framework created by Oregon law contains many intricacies and exceptions. It is important that all relevant aspects of the law be considered before agreeing on a distribution property.
Will debts be divided as well?
Yes. Debts acquired during the marriage are a part of property distribution. The overall division of debts and assets must be “just and proper.” When determining the value of the marital estate granted to each party, the value of the assets retained by each is reduced by the value of the debts.
Can I get spousal support or child support during the divorce proceedings?
Yes. After a case is filed we are able to make a motion to the court for an award of “temporary relief.” These motions for temporary relief often address disputes about living arrangements, support, or issues involving children. The court has the power to make an award of custody, parenting time, child support, and spousal support, which will remain in place until the case is complete.
What else can be addressed in a motion for temporary relief?
In addition to the issues outlined above, a court may also impose an order prohibiting extraordinary use of marital assets or keeping the “status quo” regarding each parent’s contact with the children until temporary custody and parenting time can be resolved.
If a child is in immediate danger, the court may award one parent temporary emergency custody of that child. If one party has access to much more money than the other, the court may also order one party to pay “suit money” to help the other party hire attorneys and experts.
How do I get a legal separation?
The process for getting a legal separation is basically the same as a divorce. The parties will file pleadings to commence the proceedings; engage in the formal exchange of records; negotiate the terms of the legal separation; and eventually get an judgment from the court finalizing the legal separation. The judgment will address the same issues as a divorce, including property division, support, and custody.
A legal separation, however, does not end the marriage. The separation may be for a fixed or unlimited period of time. For the first two years after entry of a separation judgment, either party can seek to convert the separation into a divorce under the terms already contained in the separation judgment.