Family Law FAQ
Being involved in a family law matter oftentimes is stressful and confusing. Our job is to help you understand the process and advise you of your options so you can make well-informed decisions. On this page, I have answered some frequently asked questions about Oregon family law. For Oregon divorce information and answers about your specific case, please contact our Beaverton Law Firm to schedule a time to speak with us.
Answers To Your Family Law Questions
Q: How long does a divorce take?
A: It depends on the level of conflict and the complexity of the divorce. If both parties agree on everything, it can take as little as around a month. If there are children involved or complex property division matters, it can take much longer. If you cannot agree on divorce issues, it can take up to a year. Trial courts are currently mandated to finalize all family law cases within one year of filing. It is therefore unusual for cases to go beyond the one year mark from filing.
Sidenote – Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the courts continue to be backlogged with cases that need the court’s attention. While the courts are doing their best to get those cases resolved, it has created longer timelines for getting to court for a hearing or trial.
Q: How much does a divorce cost?
A: Again, it depends on the level of conflict and the complexity of the divorce. While no divorce is inexpensive, an experienced, efficient attorney can help you resolve your divorce in a relatively cost-effective manner. Family law cases generally require a retainer to be deposited into the lawyer trust account. These can range from $3500 to $6000 depending on the complexity of the case. If the matter is not resolved before thei initial retainer is exhausted, we will request additional funds be deposited. This is something to be discussed at a consultation with the attorney.
Please keep in mind that depending on the complexity of your case, the efficiency at which the parties exchange financial documents, and the cooperativeness / reasonableness of the opposing and their attorney, a divorce can cost upwards of $20,000 to $30,000.
Q: Do I have to allege my spouse did something wrong in order to get a divorce?
A: No, Oregon is a no-fault state. You need only allege “irreconcilable differences” in order to be granted a divorce.
Q: Can I get joint custody of my child if the other parent won’t agree?
A: No, you can’t. Oregon law prohibits a court from ordering joint legal custody of a child over the objection of one parent. If both parents won’t agree to joint custody, the court must determine the best interests of the child and award sole legal custody to one parent.
Q: Does joint custody mean equal parenting time for both parents? Or does sole legal custody mean she is taking my child away from me and I don’t get to see her/him?
A: Legal Custody, whether sole or joint, is about who has the authority to make major legal decisions for the child. These generally include decisions surrounding medical and dental care, child care, school, and religious upbringing. It does not indicate how much time a noncustodial parent will have or not have with their child. Hence, joint custody does not mean equal parenting time. Just equal decision-making authority.
Q: What does the court consider in awarding legal custody and parenting time?
A: The court will consider factors that help them to determine what is in the child’s best interest. This will include the child’s relationships with other family members, each parent’s attitudes and beliefs regarding the child, which parent has been the primary caregiver for the child, whether there has been domestic violence committed during the relationship and which parent will better facilitate a relationship between the non-custodial parent and the child.
Q: How is child support determined?
A: In Oregon, child support is determined by a set of guidelines and calculator located here that take into account factors such as the number of children, the parties income, spousal support payments, number of overnights each parent has with the children and payment of day care and health insurance premiums.
Q: Can a dissolution of a domestic partnership contain spousal support orders?
A: No, domestic partnerships can address custody, child support and property division, but not spousal support.
Q: Can I cut off a parent’s parenting time if they are not paying support?
A: No, child support and parenting time are separation issues in Oregon and a parent may not deny the other parent time with the children because they are behind or not paying support.
Q: At what age are children allowed to decide where they live?
A: There is no specific age at which courts deem children in Oregon able to make decisions regarding custody and parenting time. These issues are handled on a case-by-case basis. There does seem to be a general consensus that teenagers should be given more latitude to give input into these situations but custodial parents are well advised to not withhold parenting time with the child from the non-custodial parent without first carefully considering to possible consequences of not complying with a current parenting time plan.
Q: In a relocation, does the custodial parent need the consent of the other parent before he or she can move with the child?
A: No. The custodial parent need only give reasonable notice of the move. That being said, if the move will impact the other parent’s parenting time with the child, the relocating parent should speak to an attorney about the advisability of being proactive and modifying the other parent’s parenting time plan before relocating.
Q: If the custodial parent needs to move away for a job opportunity, will the court allow a relocation?
A: The overriding concern in custody cases is protecting the best interests of the child. The parent's needs are not a deciding factor. The court may allow the move, but the analysis for the court is why this move is in the child’s best interest and not the parent’s.
Q: Can I terminate the other parent’s rights if they are not good parents or have been abusive towards the child or me?
A: Probably not unless you can meet certain criteria for an adoption and have a person who wishes to step into the shoes of the other parent. Generally, the court will not create a “legal orphan” - a child without a second legal parent unless there is another person who will legally agree to take over responsibility for the terminated parent's legal and financial responsibilities.
Q: Can I cancel the other parent’s health insurance or change the beneficiary designations on my life insurance or retirement accounts?
A: No, if the case has been filed and service completed, both parties are restrained from making changes to insurance coverage and beneficiaries (health, life, homeowners, rental), or otherwise transferring, encumbering concealing or disposing of marital property except for purposes of paying attorney fees, taxes, mental health therapy for themselves or their child, or payment of day to day that are necessary to provide for the safety and welfare of the party or child.
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If you are struggling with a family law issue in Oregon, I am prepared to protect your rights. To schedule a consultation, contact my law firm online or call us at 503-626-1808.
This website is designed to provide the reader with information about family law and divorce issues in Oregon. It should not be used as a substitute for advice given by a lawyer to a client during an office consultation.