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Answers To Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Family Law

Divorces, custody disputes, and parenting time disputes are all too common today. However, if you are going through this process, you need an experienced lawyer to protect your rights. At Case & Dusterhoff, LLP, we emphasize realistic and long term problem solving in our approach to domestic relations cases throughout Oregon and Washington. Your rights in a divorce or custody proceedings are often complex and difficult to detach from the emotional significance of these events. If you are going through a divorce, or wish to pursue custody of your child or create or enforce a parenting plan, then you need an attorney who can handle and enforce your rights in these situations.

Domestic Relations: Family Mediation

Mediation is often a faster and more private method of dealing with divorce. In mediation, communication between the participants is confidential. Through the direct dialog of mediation, legal fees can be kept to a minimum. Participants maintain control by deciding the agenda and the mediator educates and maintains a balanced communication. Mediation often assists the participants to focus on the important issues that need to be resolved so that they can move forward.

Domestic Relations: Adoption

Uncontested adoptions and step-parent adoptions can be simple if they are handled correctly and promptly. They can be a nightmare of complications if the wrong document is filed or if an attorney puts the case on the back burner and fails to push it forward in a timely manner. Our attorneys will give every case, no matter how simple or complex, their immediate attention. After promptly filing the documents to initiate the adoption, we will closely monitor the case to make certain that it moves to its conclusion as quickly and painlessly as possible. Uncontested adoptions and step-parent adoptions are generally done on a flat fee basis.

Domestic Relations: Divorce

Case & Dusterhoff, LLP, handles all types of divorce, with attorneys specializing in specific areas. If your case is complicated and hostile, or relatively simple and amiable, we are able to serve your needs.

Areas of divorce and family law:

  • Large Asset, Property, and Business Divisions
  • Child Custody and Support
  • Alimony, Property, and Debt Division
  • Modification of Decrees
  • Tax Ramifications and Divorce
  • Estate, Wills, and Trust Planning and Divorce

Divorce FAQs

  • What is the legal name for a divorce in the state of Oregon? Dissolution of Marriage is the legal act of ending a marriage in the state of Oregon and it is often referred to as a divorce.
  • Can fault be assigned to one or both parties? Oregon is a “no fault” state and the only basis for a divorce in Oregon is “irreconcilable differences” which have led to the breakdown of the marriage. Proof of blame may possibly be considered where child custody is contested, but not for the purpose of divorce.
  • How do I file for a divorce in Oregon? One party files a petition with the court. The filing party is the Petitioner. The other spouse is the Respondent. The respondent must be personally served. Within thirty days of being served, the Respondent must file an “appearance” with the court, either representing himself, or through an attorney.
  • What if the served Respondent does not file an appearance? The case is then settled by “default.” Neither spouse can contest nor is it necessary for the parties to appear in court. A judge will sign the final documents submitted by the Petitioner and the signed “Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage” binds both spouses.
  • What happens if the respondent files an appearance? The court will usually set a trial date, which will generally be six to nine months in the future. In the interim, the court can grant temporary orders for matters such as temporary child support and alimony, debt payment, and protective orders.
  • Discovery Stage: Both parties exchange financial information and this is called “discovery.” Discovery can include, but is not limited to, the exchange of tax returns, wage and income records, debt records, pension plan information, and bank accounts.
  • Disputes: If either party disputes custody or visitation, the court will likely order the parties to mediate and/or order that the parties participate in a court approved family evaluation. Parents may also seek evaluation of the children by their own experts. It is at the judge’s discretion whether to interview the children in his chambers. The judge will hold hearings or a trial and make his or her decision based on the evidence provided and the law.
  • Grandparent and Third Party Rights: In most Oregon cases involving juveniles, third parties, including grandparents, have a right to seek court-ordered visitation if they can prove they have the necessary relationship with the child. Third parties may join in a pending divorce case, or file a separate petition for Third Party Custody or Visitation. The courts often grant visitation if it can be proven that there is a significant bond between the parties and the child spent time with the third parties before the divorce.
  • Do all divorce cases go to trial? No, the majority of divorce cases are settled. This is often after several months of wrangling and court proceedings. The few cases that are not settled will go to trial. If a case settles, the parties may not have to appear in court at all.
  • May I have my legal name restored? Yes, if requested, the judge can grant the request that either or both parties return to a former name.
  • What are the final steps? The judge will sign a “judgment of dissolution of marriage.” The divorce is final as soon as the judge signs the judgment. At this time, the parties must divide property pursuant to the judgment, if it has not already been done. In addition, if retirement accounts need to be divided, any necessary orders, such as Qualified Domestic Relations Orders, will be drafted and submitted to the court for signature and, thereafter, submitted to the company administering the retirement account.

Domestic Relations: Parenting Plans & Custody

Presently the divorce rate is increasing at an astounding rate, and close to 50% of children and adolescents are growing up in a single parent environment. Children need their parents in order for them to develop physically, mentally, and emotionally. If the bond between the parent and the child is broken, negative consequences can be a result and can be traumatic for a child.

The games that are sometimes played between parents after the divorce often impact the children’s self esteem and their self identity can be damaged. Divorce affects children in their school environment, their peer environment, and their family structure. The family structure takes on a new definition, differing greatly from the traditional family structure. Many divorces are highly emotional and often draw children into conflict. Conflict weighs greatly on how the family functions as a unit. It is also apparent that children commonly feel that they are to blame for the separation. Children will go to great extents in order to gain back their normal family lifestyles.

The sad fact is that when people get divorced the separation between parent and child is inevitable, and how children react to this departure is probably one of the most important facets a parent faces. How children react is not seen on a day to day basis, but is seen throughout a lifetime. So, it is important for parents to keep close observations on how their children are coping and adjusting to the divorce.

While it is often in the best interest of the children for parents to create and agree to a parenting plan without the intervention of the court, sometimes this is not possible between acrimonious parents. In a contested custody matter your future interactions with your child are at stake and it is important to protect your rights.

Contact Case & Dusterhoff, LLP, For Assistance Today

These FAQs will not answer all of your questions, nor are they intended to provide you with legal guidance regarding your unique situation. Contact our Beaverton office today to schedule a free consultation and learn about your options. Call us toll free at 800-658-0167, locally at 503-607-8218 or connect with us online.