Portland Divorce Lawyers Blog | Goldberg Jones
6May/150

Sherri Shepherd Baby Drama

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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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16Apr/150

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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9Mar/150

March Madness: Goldberg Jones Bracket Challenge

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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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6Mar/150

Spousal Support: What is Galimony?

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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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17Feb/150

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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17Dec/140

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.

Mediation

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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25Sep/140

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

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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.

28Jul/140

How Much Does an Oregon Divorce Cost?

How much is an oregon divorce

credit: Charles Dawley

 

The cost of divorce in Oregon is affected by a number of factors and can vary greatly depending on the unique facts of your situation.  There are 3 major factors that will impact the final expense of your divorce: conflict, compromise, and counsel.

Conflict

There is a positive correlation between the amount of conflict in a divorce and the cost— the greater the conflict, the more expensive the divorce. High conflict divorces present a greater level of complexity and there are often additional legal issues that will need to be addressed and resolved.

Compromise

The only divorce judgment that doesn’t require at least some level of compromise is a default judgment.  Unless your soon-to-be ex-wife fails to take action, essentially forfeiting the case, you will be faced with making some compromises. Having a clear idea on what issues you are willing to make concessions and what isn’t open for negotiation can save you money and help your attorney craft a strategy to protect what matters most to you.

Refusal to compromise will draw out the divorce process and most likely lead to a divorce trial. Having a divorce settled in trial is costly and the outcome is at the judge’s discretion (within Oregon law).

Counsel

Handling your divorce yourself can be tempting, particularly when you see the average hourly rate for a divorce lawyer can range between $200 and $400 an hour. While the price tag might be appealing, a do-it-yourself divorce can end up costing you more than working with an attorney from the get go. We have seen numerous men undertake a DIY divorce only to wind up in our office at a greater disadvantage. Hiring a good divorce attorney isn’t cheap, but it can end up saving you a significant amount of money in the long run. Protecting your assets and ensuring any support payments are accurately calculated and fair given the facts of the case can potentially save you thousands of dollars.

The cost of divorce in Oregon can vary greatly depending on your circumstance. Regardless if you intend to pursue a do-it-yourself divorce or you are ready to retain an attorney, educate yourself on your rights and the Oregon divorce process. An experienced Oregon divorce lawyer can provide insight and give you an accurate idea of what to expect from your divorce or custody case. An initial consultation is an excellent way to get the information you need, answers to your questions, and a personalized assessment of your unique situation.

 

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11Jul/140

4 Tactics for Fighting Parental Alienation

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Parental Alienation is defined as “a social dynamic when a child expresses unjustified hatred or unreasonably strong dislike of one parent, making access by the rejected parent difficult or impossible. “

Father’s that are the target of Parental Alienation face a plethora of challenges. Overcoming those challenges can be overwhelming and leave fathers uncertain of their options for maintaining a relationship with their children.

Have a Plan

One of the best ways fathers can protect themselves is to hone in on creating a detailed and explicit parenting plan. Your parenting plan will outline what your rights are as a parent and will provide the framework for enforcing your rights. It is imperative that you ensure your parenting plan is specific and provides for significant visitation.  A vague parenting plan can invite opportunities for the manipulation of visitation, resulting in an undermining of your parental relationship with your child.

A Good Set of Rules Means Nothing if You Don’t Enforce Them.

A comprehensive parenting plan will only protect your rights if you enforce it. Many men make the mistake of letting small encroachments slide in an effort to be amicable and accommodating.  These small grants can quickly add up to big obstacles down the road. Complaining about violations or denial of parenting time isn’t enough. You have to enforce the parenting plan.  Failing to enforce the parenting plan through the court system can embolden the mother to continue treading on your rights and your relationship with your child.

Multiple Findings of Contempt can Lead to a Switch of Custody

Enforcing your parenting plan with the court will have several effects. First, it establishes your commitment to maintaining a consistent and involved parental relationship with your child. Second, it provides a record of parenting plan violations (contempt). Multiple violations of the parenting plan can lead to a switching of custody.

Family Counseling May Be Needed

Sometimes dad’s can do everything right and Mom is still able to alienate them from their child. If Parental Alienation has been effective, modifying the parenting plan to add a provision for family counseling, child counseling and/or a custody evaluation may help reverse the damage of the estrangement.

Parental Alienation can be devastating. If you are a father and are facing custody, divorce or other family law issues, educating yourself on your rights is the first step to protecting your relationship with your child. Our firm is a dedicated family law practice that is focused on husbands and fathers. If you have questions about your rights, please give us a call. Our managing attorney, Colin Amos, can provide you answers over the phone at no charge, and with no obligation. (503) 731-8888

 

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20Jun/140

Divorce and Debt in Oregon

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credit: Andres Rueda

Finances are often at the forefront when a couple has made the decision to divorce. Who will get what and how those decisions are made can create a lot of anxiety. Additionally, some couples are surprised to find out that debts are also divided in the divorce process.

Credit cards, home loans, auto financing and other debts will distributed between both parties. Because Oregon is an equitable distribution state there are some subtleties in how debts will be apportioned. Equitable distribution is “a legal principle under which assets and earnings acquired during marriage are divided equitably (fairly) at divorce.” It is important to note that equitable is not synonymous with equal. This means it is possible for assets and debts to be divided disproportionately.  Depending on the unique facts of your case, it is possible that the court might divide marital debts and assets in a 40/60 split, but it’s also possible that the court will determine a 50/50 division to be fair.

Dividing debt in a divorce also comes with the additional hazard of enforcing the divorce decree. Unfortunately when your ex fails to pay off the debt that was awarded to them in the divorce, it is possible that the debtor can seek payment from you. In this situation, men often have to pay off the debt and then sue their ex for restitution.

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You are probably asking yourself, “how does this happen?” Much to the chagrin of divorcing couples, credit card companies and mortgage holders are not bound by your divorce decree. If the debt was incurred during the marriage, creditors can seek repayment from either spouse. Opening a line of credit requires the debtor (you) and the creditor (the company to whom the money is owed) enter into a contract.  The family courts do not have the jurisdiction to alter the creditor’s rights and therefore can’t modify the terms of your debt. The court is restricted to assigning the responsibility of repayment, but that doesn’t guarantee you won’t still be liable for repaying the debt.

Dividing debt in a divorce can be a tricky subject. Making sure you understand all your rights and your options is important. If you have questions about how your debts will be divided in divorce, please give us a call. Our managing attorney, Colin Amos, is happy to answer your family law questions over the phone at no charge.

 

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