This may come as a shocking revelation, but divorce cost can add up quickly. There are charges and fees along every step of the way, from filing the initial paperwork and hiring an attorney to relevant court costs and a variety of expenditures that continue even after the process is complete.
The big question is: how much does it cost to get a divorce in Oregon?
The short answer is that it may cost quite a bit. Many of the expenses of dissolving your marriage are readily apparent. For example, hiring a lawyer is going to incur fees, though the exact amount depends on the nature of each distinct situation. On the other side of that coin, there are bound to be those payments that you didn’t see coming, like fees for responding to motions filed against you, changes in your tax status, or even the potential impact on your credit score down the road.
Every case is different, but with that in mind, here are some of the costs, both obvious and otherwise, you may encounter when seeking a divorce in Oregon.
Paperwork And Legal Fees
A common refrain is that there is no such thing as a free divorce. No matter how amicable, good-natured, or uncontested a split, there are at least a few fees likely to pop up. Even for the do-it-yourselfers out there going through an unchallenged split, according to the Oregon State Bar Association, each party is currently subject to a $273 filing fee for a divorce or custody case.
Moving forward, there is the cost of serving your soon-to-be former spouse with divorce papers. You can hire an outside process server to accomplish this, which, depending on what company you use and how difficult it is to find your ex, may run anywhere from $50 upwards. If you have retained the services of an attorney, they can handle the serving, for a fee. There is a form that you can have your spouse sign that indicates the documents have been served, but otherwise this needs to be done by an outside party.
There are also costs involved with filing motions, responding to petitions, appearing in court, and more. Basically, every time you have to deal with new paperwork or show up in front of a judge, expect to fork over at least a few dollars.
Divorce is a complicated affair and you may be much better served by enlisting the expertise of an attorney. A professional knows the ins and out and intricacies of the process, will be able to answer your questions, and can guide you down the path towards an optimal outcome. And that, of course, costs money.
There may be an initial consulting charge, likely a flat fee, followed by an hourly rate. At Goldberg Jones in Portland, for example, there is a $95 consultation fee, with an hourly rate of $330 once hired. Depending on how long and complicated your divorce is, the more issues you and your spouse disagree on, and the more contentious the proceedings, these fees may stack up accordingly.
Make sure that, right out of the gate, you ask your lawyer to explain their billing practices. Find out what services you get for your money, how they break down the charges, and what you can expect to see on an invoice. It never hurts to get this sort of thing in writing at the beginning, and though the price may seem high at first, it will likely be well worth the investment in the long run.
While legal and attorney’s fees are most apparent costs of divorce, they have an end date. Once your split is final, they will go away, or at least stop accumulating. There are, however, post-divorce financial obligations that may, depending on the circumstances, continue long after a marriage is dissolved.
If children figure into your divorce, child support may be one of the biggest continuing costs you see. In Oregon, child support is primarily awarded in cases involving minor children under the age of 18, though in some instances it can continue until 21. These payments are designed to provide for the ongoing care and well-being of your kids.
In general, the party that has the most overnights with the child is the one most likely to receive payments from the other, though child support is also often payable even in cases of 50/50 shared custody. The parent with the greater income usually covers more of the financial costs of child care, medical bills, and education. The State of Oregon has an online calculator to estimate potential child support payments, and while this is not a hard-and-fast, official amount, it provides a rough idea of what you may be required to pay.
While not awarded in every divorce, spousal support may be ordered to help your former partner meet financial needs following the dissolution of your marriage. Less formulaic than child support, the amount is based on what is “just and equitable” in the given situation, and may take into account factors like the length of the marriage, the age and health of both parties, and the future financial prospects of each.
There are three kinds of spousal support in Oregon: transitional, compensatory, and maintenance. Shorter in duration, transitional support is, as the name suggests, awarded to aid one spouse in making the switch back to single life, and to obtain education or training to reenter the workforce, or to advance in the marketplace. This is most common in briefer marriages. Less frequent, compensatory support is called for when one party has contributed a significant amount to the career and earning capacity of the other, or in settlements where one was awarded substantially more property. Maintenance support is most common in long-term unions where there is a great divide between the earning potential of the two parties, one that may never realistically be closed, and it tends to continue for extended periods, often times even indefinitely.
The Less Obvious Costs Of Divorce
Up to this point, most of the costs involved in divorce that have been discussed are of the obvious variety. Court fees, attorney’s costs, and child and spousal support are all commonly associated with the end of a marriage. There are, however, a number of other, less apparent expenses that accompany the process of divorce in Oregon, ones that may not be as evident at first glance.
Often by the time a divorce is finalized, the two parties are already living separately. Frequently, these accommodations are acquired in haste and temporary in nature. Moving on to the next phase of your life, looking to lay fresh, permanent roots, you may incur costs associated with relocation and setting up a new household, especially if there are children to consider. If you and your spouse owned a home or property together, unless an agreement can be reached, these assets may be sold, again, often quickly and for convenience rather than for optimal value.
If you were previously protected under your spouse’s health coverage, this is another situation you may need to deal with. The same goes for changing wills, altering life insurance policies, or any other shared articles and benefits acquired over the course of the marriage.
One huge change may be your tax situation. Once your divorce is settled, your filing status will likely look very different than before, and if there are minor children involved, your custodial status may also impact deductions, payments, incentives, and more.
It’s also even possible that your credit score may be affected. After your divorce, your former spouse’s future credit shouldn’t impact your own, as you will apply for credit cards, loans, and more individually. If you still have existing shared debts, however, that can influence the standing of your credit file.
For example, divorce doesn’t alter pre-existing contracts and agreements with a third party that you and your spouse entered into while married, like a mortgage. If the court assigns your former spouse to pay a joint debt like this, in a perfect world, that’s precisely what will happen. On the other hand, if your ex neglects to make these payments, or simply isn’t able to, it can reflect negatively on you. If it gets bad enough, you could be approached by creditors or even face legal action. Hopefully there is a strategy in place for dealing with such joint debts and division of property in accordance with Oregon law, but it never hurts to keep a close eye on your credit score and stay abreast of the situation.
How To Limit The Costs Of Divorce
In short, divorce is not cheap, even in the most straightforward cases. Dissolution agreements can be hugely complex, take into account a wide variety of factors, and feature many moving parts. There are, fortunately, ways to potentially reduce some of these costs and limit the amount you ultimately spend, especially when it comes to uncontested divorces or when there is little shared property and no children in play.
The costs of divorce in Oregon are different in every case, but for ways to keep them from spiraling out of control, take a look at this article for tips to cut fees and keep your expenses in check.