You likely have many questions about divorce, child custody, and other family law issues. That’s perfectly natural. Take a minute to check out our frequently asked questions page where you’ll find answers to common questions. Each case is different, so these should not be construed as legal advice.
To receive in-depth answers tailored to you and your situation, contact us directly. Give us a call at our office or fill out a free case review online. Our managing attorney will look at the specifics of your case and offer concrete advice over the phone at no charge.
HOW LONG DOES THE DIVORCE PROCESS TAKE?
It’s called the divorce “process” for a reason. Washington has a mandatory 90-day waiting period before a divorce can be finalized. That’s the minimum amount of time you can expect.
How long it actually takes depends on the people and details involved. In short marriages with no children and little or no property to divide, where spouses agree on everything, it can go this quickly. But the more details, complexities, and conflict you face, the more complicated it becomes and the longer it takes.
In-Depth Reading: How Long Does It Take In Oregon?
DO I NEED A DIVORCE LAWYER?
The law doesn’t require you to hire a divorce lawyer. If you like, you can legally represent yourself. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. This works best in straightforward cases where there are no children, real property, retirement accounts, or spousal support issues.
However, even in relatively simple situations, divorce gets complicated fast. Having an experienced attorney watching out for your best interests and guiding you through the process can prevent damaging mistakes.
In-Depth Reading: Hiring a Divorce Lawyer? 11 Questions To Ask Yourself
HOW MUCH DOES DIVORCE COST?
Divorce isn’t cheap. That’s probably not a surprise. The process comes with many expenses, both financial and emotional. How much it costs depends on variety of factors.
Costs include attorney fees, court filing fees, and possible third-party expenses, like an expert witness, visitation supervisor, or parenting evaluator. At Goldberg Jones, we offer a free phone consultation. Our managing attorney, Colin Amos, will answer any questions at no charge to you.
In-Depth Reading: What To Know About Divorce Costs in Oregon
DO I HAVE TO MOVE OUT OF MY HOME?
No, you don’t have to move out of your shared home unless a court order requires you to vacate. Doing so actually often hurts your case.
In many situations, choosing to relocate before reaching a settlement harms custody claims, could possibly increase your spousal support exposure, or damages your leverage in other areas.
We strongly urge you to remain in your home until you meet with an attorney to determine the best course of action.
In-Depth Reading: How Moving Out Will Affect Your Divorce
DOES THE MOTHER ALWAYS GET CUSTODY?
No, they absolutely do not! Many fathers feel they face an uphill battle in custody cases because of the common perception that mothers retain always receive primary custody.
Legally speaking, however, the laws are gender-neutral and don’t favor one parent over the other. The biggest key is the parenting history each party brings forward and presents to the court.
At Goldberg Jones, we’re well-versed telling a father’s story in a truthful, persuasive manner and steering our clients towards the best course of action.
In-Depth Reading: What Are A Father’s Rights?
HOW DOES THE COURT DETERMINE CUSTODY?
Mothers and Fathers both have equal rights to pursue custody. The ultimate standard is the “best interests of the children.” If the parents can’t reach a settlement on their own, the courts look at several legal factors to determine custody.
Often courts call in third-party parenting evaluators to create a detailed report and offer recommendations. Ultimately, it’s in the best interests of the children to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents.
A parenting plan will layout and address custody issues going forward, like the residential schedule, transportation arrangements, decision-making powers, and others.
In-Depth Reading: Best Interest Of The Child
HOW CAN I PROTECT MY CUSTODY RIGHTS?
Being a major, active part of your children’s lives during the divorce process increases the chances of keeping a similar role afterward. The more time you spend with your kids, the stronger your case becomes.
Courts prefer stability and consistency, and if you have a substantial role in their lives before, that’s more likely to continue later.
This is one reason we recommend not moving out of your house, if possible. That drastically cuts down your parenting time. It’s vital you don’t let yourself be removed for their lives simply to make yours easier.
Related Reading: 7 Ways To Help Your Custody Case
CAN MY EX MOVE AWAY WITH MY CHILDREN?
The primary parent can often relocate with the children to another city, state, or even country. It’s not easy, however, and there are hoops to jump through. Built into most court orders is a notice requirement before any move can occur.
On the other hand, if you want to block the other parent from moving with the child(ren), you have to file an objection or modification proceeding. This brings the issue to the courts for a ruling.
As with other custody issues, the courts weigh many factors when determining the best interests of the children. The good news is that Oregon courts have become much more resistant to relocating children away from their community, schools, and, most importantly, the other parent.
In-Depth Reading: Moving On Up: Relocation After Divorce
DOES THE COURT SPLIT EVERYTHING EQUALLY?
Oregon follows the equitable distribution model when it comes to the division of property. There are two types of assets. In general, if it’s earned or acquired during a marriage, it’s viewed as marital property and belongs equally to both spouses. This is then available to distribute in a fair, equitable fashion in divorce.
Separate property, as the name implies, belongs to one spouse or the other. This includes property owned before the marriage, as well as things like gifts or inheritances.
However, courts do have the discretion to include separate property while splitting up assets if fairness dictates. The goal is for both parties to emerge on stable, relatively even footing, and to maintain a lifestyle similar to what they enjoyed during the marriage.
Related Reading: Equitable Distribution Vs Community Property
HOW DO YOU CALCULATE CHILD SUPPORT?
Child support payments cover the costs of food, shelter, clothing, and other necessities for your children.
In Oregon, this initially follows a uniform formula that accounts for a number of factors, including the number and age of the children and the net income of both parents.
Other considerations can also influence the amount, which is why it’s important to have a professional look at your situation. At Goldberg Jones, our attorneys are adept at calculation and explore all additional information that impacts a support order.
Related Reading: Calculate Your Own Child Support Responsibility.
HOW IS LEGAL SEPARATION DIFFERENT THAN DIVORCE?
On a practical, day-to-day level, legal separation often looks and functions quite a bit like a divorce. A couple lives apart, establishes a child custody arrangement, divides property, and more.
The big difference is that with a legal separation, you remain married. A variety of reasons exist to choose legal separation over divorce, but you should consult an attorney before deciding to make sure it’s right for you and your situation.
In-Depth: Divorce Vs. Separation
SHOULD I MEDIATE?
Mediation is often a useful tool in divorce. In this process, spouses meet with a third-party to negotiate a settlement that works for both parties. Couples often hammer out the details regarding the division of property, child custody arrangements, support payments, and more.
In many cases, it helps you reach your goals, cut down on stress and conflict, and even reduce the cost of divorce. A lawyer isn’t required for mediation, but it’s likely in your best interests to have representation, especially if your spouse does.
In-Depth Reading: Common Mediation Questions