Portland Divorce Lawyers Blog | Goldberg Jones

Divorce Selfies


The “selfie” has become ubiquitous part of pop culture. It has become so pervasive that it has spawned a category of accessories (the selfie-stick) and sub-genres including “the gym selfie”, “the car selfie”, and now  “divorce selfies”.  There has been speculation that the rise of the selfie is a by-product of shifting values and cultural shift towards individualism. The emergence of the “divorce selfie” may also be a reflection of shifting perceptions of divorce.

The history of divorce stretches back to the 16th century and the Roman Catholic church. In the 1950s divorce carried a strong stigma. Couples who chose to divorce were often faced with ridicule and disdain. The societal pressures to avoid divorce were just a part of the challenges faced when deciding to terminate a marriage. In the 50s, divorces were only granted if one party could prove fault. This meant that adequate cause for divorce had to be presented before a judge. If neither party could show fault, the divorce would be denied. States such as New York, would only grant a divorce if adultery could be proven.  

The requirement to prove fault existed until 1969 when then California Governor, Ronald Reagan, signed the first no-fault divorce bill. Governor Reagan’s bill has been cited as paving the way for other states to also adopt no-fault divorces. According to an article published by HG.org, “One of the principal outcomes of the no-fault divorce is that today, if one spouse wants a divorce but the other spouse does not, there isn’t much the resistant spouse can do to prevent it. Years ago when “fault” divorce was commonplace, some divorces were simply not approved by the court because the other spouse offered a valid defense to the accusation of fault.”

The implementation of no-fault divorces played a significant role in shaping the idea of the family structure well into the 80’s and 90’s. The archetype of the latchkey kid made it’s appearance as a societal norm via the mass media in the 80’s and continues to be a recurring character. The latchkey kid was a byproduct of the rise in divorce rates that occurred in the 1970s, peaked in the 80’s and perpetuated through the 90s. The concept of divorce evolved significantly over these three decades; it moved from stigmatized to a more socially accepted status.

Changing social perceptions regarding divorce have been accelerated by the widespread adoption of technology and social media. Both technology and social media have impacted divorce cases and it is no surprise that they are also being used to celebrate a divorce becoming final.

The emergence of platforms like Friendster and Myspace, gave rise to social media as a tool for image crafting. This has been magnified with the widespread adoption of other, more sophisticated, channels such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. Social media is often the first place people turn when major life events happen so it comes as no surprise that some couples mark the end of their divorce with a selfie.

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Parental Alienation

parental alienation

Guilt is a common emotion for parents going through divorce. That guilt can seep into relationships and become toxic to everyone involved. It is common for issues to surface before, during, and after the divorce; and the extent of those issues can jeopardize the ability of both parent and child to move forward. In some situations, the parent-child relationship can become regressive and lead to Parental Alienation.

Parents hold an immense amount of influence over their child(ren). Like Uncle Ben (from the Spiderman) once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Parents’ influence is powerful, but can be dangerous if used for nefarious purposes.

What is Parental Alienation?

Parental Alienation (or Hostile Aggressive Parenting) can be defined as: “ a group of behaviors that are damaging to children's mental and emotional well-being, and can interfere with a relationship of a child and either parent. These behaviors most often accompany high conflict marriages, separation or divorce.”

Being exposed to derogatory remarks directed towards the other parent can contribute to feelings of animosity for that parent; thus resulting in damage to the parent-child relationship.

These hostile behaviors are most often seen post-divorce, but are not uncommon in other cases involving separation. Children normally begin to feel anger, resentment, and aversion towards the targeted parent that can result in a broken relationship. These repercussions include the child expressing hateful feelings towards the parent, avoiding any form of contact, and/or refusing to associate with the parent.

The assertion of influence by the alienating parent toward the targeted parent can cause significant and long lasting damage to the child-parent relationship. The loss of affection can directly harm the parent and child emotionally and mentally. Sherrie Bennett, one of our attorneys here at Goldberg Jones, touches on this delicate subject in an article she wrote about Parental Alienation. She uncovers the causes for alienation, the guilt the child feels, and offers ways to cope with and resolve alienating behavior.

The last thing a parent wants is to be emotionally detached from their child. A child’s mind continues to grow by what it observes, or in this case; is manipulated to believe. Parents: it is advised that this is approached carefully and under the guidance of the appropriate professionals. This is not a challenge easily resolved—it will take patience and diligence. The child-parent relationship is what is at stake; “Try not to argue with or be defensive with your child. Talk openly about what your child is actually seeing and feeling, as opposed to what the child has been told to be the truth”(Lawyers.com).

The long journey to ending the divorce/separation process can take on more challenges than expected. Your emotional level and strength to push towards a better tomorrow will be tested. We advise you to keep the child’s and your relationship in mind. In the event where you feel overwhelmed and are needing legal advice to plan your next move; consult an attorney and understand your rights as a parent. It is a long journey to a new normal, but keep your eye on the prize; you will get there.

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Custody and Divorce — Keeping Kids Out of the Fray

portland-custody-and-divorcePortland divorce lawyer, Colin Amos, stopped by The Game to answer questions about custody, divorce, domestic discord, and shielding children from becoming collateral damage.

Providing a safe harbor for kids during divorce can be difficult, particularly if violence or abuse are part of the mix. Abuse can be take a variety of forms including verbal, emotional, and physical. If a child is living in a situation where there are constant fights and long term conflict, parents are not only affecting each other individually; but they are also affecting the child’s well being.

The court’s objective in deciding custody issues is to act in the best interest of the child.  As mentioned by Colin, children are often not objective about what is in their best interest. While the court is interested in hearing all relevant facts regarding custody to determine what is best for the child—children are not allowed to choose where they will live after a divorce.

Custody cases often include the appointment of a guardian ad litem (GAL). A GAL is an attorney dedicated to representing the child(ren). The GAL will interview the child(ren) and factor their wishes into their recommendation to the court.

There is a persistent rumor that children at the age of 12 years old can decide where they want to go—this is false. In the state of Oregon the GAL will propose a plan to the court.  If the case is complex, or serious physical or emotional issues are present, a Custody Evaluator can also be appointed to provide an in-depth analysis of the situation.

Divorce might feel like a negotiated war, and one of the biggest battles is having to confront the new reality and living situation with your child(ren). This new beginning can take some work to polish the scratched surface and make for a smooth transition into a new life with your child(ren)—but it is worth the effort.

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Sherri Shepherd Baby Drama


TV personality Sherri Shepherd has been making headlines regarding a recent ruling in custody case. The Sherri Shepherd decision, issued in April by a Pennsylvania Judge, is just one of three cases that have been brought in regards to the dissolution of Shepherd and Sally’s marriage.

While Goldberg Jones is not involved in any of the cases regarding Shepherd and Lamar Sally, the parentage case highlights some important legal questions that are worth exploring. The case, as it has been reported, seeks to determine the legal mother of a child born to a surrogate in August 2014.

According to online sources, “ The couple separated in May 2014 and have since been involved in a custody battle over a now 8-month-old baby born via surrogate. Just last week, a judge ruled that Shepherd is the legal mother of the baby. Up until that point, the surrogate was listed as the legal mother on the birth certificate.”

At first glance, this case may sound like a plotline from Jerry Springer or Maury Povich, but it addresses some legal issues that have emerged with advancements in fertility options.

Surrogate pregnancies have opened the door to uncharted territory regarding legally establishing the mother. Any pregnancy carried by a surrogate should have a formal and legally binding contract between the parties.

In 2014, Sally commented in an interview that he and Shepherd paid a surrogate $30,000 to carry a child created using Sally’s sperm and a donor egg. Prior to the birth of the child, the couple split and Shepherd wanted nothing to do with the baby.

In Shepherd's case, the surrogate was listed on the birth certificate due to Shepherd s refusal to acknowledge the child. This led to the State of California initiating a child support action against the surrogate to recoup the costs of health insurance and other benefits paid by the state for the care of the child.

The Court’s acknowledgement of Shepherd as the mother reinforces the importance of protecting the interest of the child and the rights of the surrogate. While the decision names Shepherd as the mother, the court cannot force her to raise, visit, or participate in the child’s life. However, Ms.Shepherd will be responsible for financial obligations like support, day care reimbursement, etc.


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Derek Fisher Divorce

Derek Fisher Divorce

According to online reports, Knick’s coach Derek Fisher has filed for divorce from his wife of ten years. While we do not have any involvement in this case, it has raised some interesting questions regarding the warning signs that may indicate a marriage is headed for dissolution.

TMZ Sports is reporting, “Derek Fisher's wife says she was completely "blindsided" when the NBA legend served her with divorce papers last month ... and was even more shocked that he moved all of his stuff out of their home in the middle of the night .”

Our managing attorney, Colin Amos, stopped by The Game 750 to chat about some of the most common warning signs of an impending divorce and the importance of not getting caught off guard.

Check out all of Colin’s commentary in the video below.


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March Madness: Goldberg Jones Bracket Challenge


Who’s on Fire? Who is going to razzle-dazzle this tournament and take home the NCAA National Championship Trophy? With the Journey to the Tourney reaching its end, it is time to start predicting the teams that will duel it out to the end. However, the competition is not limited to the court—Goldberg Jones will be holding its annual Bracket Challenge.

Think your bracket has the best spread? Fill out the bracket at tournament.fantasysports.yahoo.com. Prove that your intuition and knowledge for the game and stats will prosper.  You can begin filling it out starting March 17th and ending March 21st. The dominating bracket will win a $250 Amazon Gift Card, that’s just money in your pocket.

Similar to last year, the Bracket Challenge is a winner-takes-all event. So start crafting your bracket ASAP to ensure total domination. To keep up with the action; make sure to follow our Twitter and give us a “like” on Facebook. It will be absolute madness and there is no reason to miss out.
Be part of the action and join us in the most exhilarating tournament that keeps your eyes locked on the TV and internet statistics. Get your gear on, check the stats, craft your bracket, save your seat and let the tourney unfold.

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Spousal Support: What is Galimony?


Galimony is a non-legal term for spousal support that is paid by the wife to the husband. A quick search of Urban Dictionary also sites galimony as the alimony paid when a same-sex couple divorces.

Galimony is a riff off the term alimony, which has been replaced in the legal lexicon with “spousal support”.  In a divorce, it is imperative to understand when, and how, spousal support is applied.

Spousal support is a tool used by the courts to level the playing field for both parties exiting the marriage. Spousal support can be negotiated and agreed upon by both parties. If no agreement can be reached, the courts can determine if (and how much) spousal support is awarded.

There are several factors that influence spousal support. Some of these factors are: ability to pay, length of marriage, disparity of income between spouses, and the standard of living during the marriage. This is not an exhaustive list and it is important to remember the court may take additional information into consideration.

Spousal support is modifiable, but, the standard for modification of spousal support is exceptionally difficult requiring a substantial change in financial circumstances not known or intended at the date of divorce. It is imperative to be very diligent in negotiation up front because fixing it later is very difficult.

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After the Divorce: Updating Important Documents

what to do after divorce

Changing Information on Important Documents after a Divorce

If there is anything that is strongly advised by a lawyer; it is to update any shared important documents between you and your ex-spouse. It is common to get caught up in the emotional stress that comes with divorce, but there are important issues that need to be addressed immediately. Failing to make changes to your will, life insurance, etc. might just leave your ex inheriting your property and assets.

It is normal to want those you love and your children to be taken care of if something were to happen to you. However, if your will is not updated with your current marital status and the status to whom will inherit your assets, this could be beneficial for the wrong person.

Keeping your will up to date becomes a vital priority during a divorce. Every State is different when it comes to how a divorce will affect a will. Oregon and Washington both have a provision that  states a divorce “will revoke all provisions in the will in favor of the former spouse”. This means your ex-spouse will be precluded from inheriting your assets. While this provision does provide some protection from your ex inheriting your assets,  it can create a great deal of ambiguity in how your final wishes are carried out. It is always best to update your will to ensure that your intent is crystal clear and your wishes are accurate and explicit.

There may be an unexpected incident leaving you unable to make decisions for yourself or your family. Your will dictates what initiatives need to be taken in such an event. Usually, your attorney will take on this job just to make sure things are taken care of during your incapacitation. Additionally, you must appoint an executor who will be responsible for ensuring your wishes are carried out as they are stated in your will. It is also advised that you let the person know they will be named as the executor in your will.

When meeting with your lawyer to discuss your decisions and the division of assets, it is wise to come in with an outline of “who gets what”, and “who does what.” When deciding on an executor it is in your best interest to choose someone you fully trust and will comply with your wishes after your death.

Consult your divorce lawyer if your ex is being unreasonable with any sort of insurance plan changes. These are assets that need to be protected to ensure that your loved ones receive everything that was intended for them. If updating documents after your divorce is something you are currently dealing with then talk with a divorce attorney and your insurance companies immediately to avoid any issues that could emerge.


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How are Assets Divided in Divorce?

oregon division of assets

credit: Pixabay


Reaching the end of a divorce can be a drawn-out process with issues that seem impossible to resolve. The distribution of assets, custody (if there are children), and support, are three of the primary concerns couples face. “What is going to happen to the house? Who gets it? What about the furniture? The car? The remaining debts?”…etc.—are all questions that seem daunting to rectify. However, Oregon is an equitable distribution state and has established guidelines to help determine who gets what.

Equitable Distribution seeks to divide marital assets and debts (meaning any property or liabilities that were acquired during the marriage) in a way that both spouses leave the marriage with relatively equal footing. Each spouse is entitled to some percentage of the property—but it’s not always 50/50 when it comes to the division.

How is “equitable” calculated?

The courts vigilantly evaluate the documentation to determine how much each spouse contributed to the marriage and how they stand financially. Separate property is anything a spouse receives, such as a gift, inheritance, or other court settlements, and may not be shared, or distributed to the other party. All property is before the court, both separate and joint, however if you properly trace the funds, most times the courts will exclude the separate property from division.

What is most commonly distributed is marital property. The most common assets and debts that are considered marital property include: bank accounts, personal property, debts and loans made while as a couple, retirement/pension benefits, and the real estate that had been mutually shared. These are just a few examples and is not an exhaustive list.

For most couples, the marital home is often the largest asset acquired during the marriage and dividing it can seem impossible. Obviously the parties can agree to sell the home and divide the net proceeds fairly equally.  If one of the parties wants to keep the residence the common approach is also fairly simplified.  First, fair market value needs to be determined.  If the parties cannot agree to a value then hopefully they can agree to a joint appraisal and accept the value determined. Second, the marital equity is commonly the fair market value less the outstanding mortage(s) and lines of credit.  Costs of sale, including real estate fees, are generally not included in determining martial equity.  Third, is to determine how the party keeping the home is going to pay out the other party’s equity: refinance and cash out, greater distribution of other marital assets, assumption of greater debt, offset against spousal support etc.  It is important to remember that the only way to remove a party from the mortgage obligation is to refinance or sell the home.  At the very least you should have a refinance provision within a set period of time or requirement to sell the home at some point.

Retirement Accounts

Prior to reaching the final settlement, retirement accounts are reviewed as part of the divorce process. In the state of Oregon, a vested/unvested retirement account is considered marital property if acquired during the marriage. In the situation where the spouses cannot reach an agreement on the division of the pension, a pension valuator would be advised to determine the distribution.

If the couple can set an equal division on their own, then they will present the marital agreement to the court for review and approval. If any accounts cannot be divvied fairly by the parties, then the court will review the arguments presented at trial and ultimately determination on how best to divide the retirement accounts. It is normal to use a common valuation date and divide retirement accounts by keeping the retirement with the party who earned it as much as possible. Division of retirement accounts are nontaxable events if handled properly.


Using a mediator can be an effective tool for dividing up assets if both parties are cooperative. Through the mediation process the parties work with a mediator go through all assets, debts, or any conflicts. This initial review is documented. If the parties cannot come up with a settlement for their case then the mediation will take place with their standing lawyers and the mediator. Once an agreement is reached the settlement agreement is drafted and taken to the court for review and finally a divorce decree will be constructed.

Keep in mind that experts such as real estate agents, mediators, and pension valuators will add to the cost of the divorce. While the initial cost of the divorce might be higher, it is advised to take advantage of the help that is available at the time of settling a divorce.

Oregon’s Equitable Distribution is an exceedingly practical and convenient system to help aid the courts in the decision of the distributions for both parties.Reaching settlements is an essential piece of the divorce process and working with a lawyer (and other important experts) can maximize your ability to protect your assets and minimize your exposure to risk down the road. If you have questions regarding how assets are divided in an Oregon divorce, please give us a call.


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Colin On Air: Legalization of Marijuana and Post-nuptial Agreements

post-nuptial agreements

credit: pixabay


Colin recently stopped by 750 The Game to discuss how legalizing marijuana might affect custody and divorce, and post-nuptial agreements.

The conversation about the legalization of marijuana was spawned from a recent article in the Willamette Weekly about the upcoming vote for legalizing pot. According to the article, “A recent poll shows eight of 10 Oregonians believe it’s a matter of when, not if, voters erase laws against recreational use of marijuana.”

The conversation regarding post-nuptial agreements was also sparked by recent rumors that Kaley Cuoco, one of the actresses on “Big Bang Theory”, asked her husband for a post-nuptial agreement.

To hear what Colin had to say about both of these topics, click on the video below.