Divorce and Separation
"Divorces are business reorganizations with tears."
-Jody Stahancyk, Founding Partner
Dissolution of Marriage
A divorce, also known as a dissolution of marriage, is a proceeding to end a valid marriage. In Oregon, a divorce may be granted without either spouse being at fault. To file for divorce in Oregon, at least one of the spouses has to have been a resident or been domiciled in the state continuously for at least six months, and must be living in Oregon at the time of filing. A person seeking a divorce may act as his or her own attorney, to represent himself or herself.
To begin divorce proceedings, a petition for dissolution of marriage must be filed with the court in the county where the spouses live. The person who files for divorce is known as the Petitioner and the other person is known as the Respondent. The Petitioner and Respondent are also referred to as the "parties" involved in the case. After the petition is filed, the Respondent must be officially notified of the proceedings by being served with a copy of the paperwork that was filed with the court. The Respondent then has a deadline in which he or she must file a response to the petition.
A divorce becomes final when all issues, including property division, spousal support, child custody, parenting time, and child support are settled by either the agreement of the parties or by trial. The final document which contains the terms of the resolution of all of the issues, and which is signed by a circuit court judge, is known as a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.
Below, we have provided a "road map" of the steps involved in a divorce case. Be aware that each person's situation is different, and every divorce can take a different course. Some of the steps listed below may not pertain to your case, and additional steps that are not listed may be required. The following outline is intended as general information to help you understand the many twists and turns involved in an Oregon divorce.
- Meet with a divorce attorney to discuss options and timing as well as the laws of divorce in your state.
- Hire an attorney by signing a retainer agreement.
- Provide requested information to prepare divorce paperwork. For example, names, addresses, social security number, date of birth, and telephone numbers.
- Review papers prepared to file for a divorce or legal separation and sign.
- Law firm files paperwork with court, with a filing fee.
- Opposing party is served either by voluntarily accepting service in writing or by being physically served by a process server.
- Sign up within two weeks of filing and complete the required parenting class if children are involved.
- Opposing party files a response answer with filing fee.
- Provide discovery to opposing party (documentation, depositions).
- Obtain discovery from opposing party.
- Obtain discovery from other potential witnesses.
- If necessary, participate in custody / parenting time study.
- Determine goals and negotiating position for final settlement of case.
- Attempt settlement: make settlement offers, participate in settlement conference and mediation or arbitration, if there are no children or spousal support involved. Skip to step #18 if settlement is reached.
- Prepare for trial (review issues, witness questions, goals and trial position).
- Attorney files trial memorandum outlining issues and trial position.
- Go to trial.
- Attorney incorporates settlement or Judge's ruling into a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.
- Review draft of Judgment with attorney.
- Opposing party approves form of Judgment or submits written objections to form.
- Judge reviews and signs Judgment.
- Exchange personal property and assets as necessary under Judgment.
- Obtain proper insurance.
- Verify that any pension or retirement accounts are properly divided, if applicable.
- Review estate plan.
Separation is a general term that encompasses both legal and physical separation. Physical separation occurs when a husband and wife simply stop living together. While this action has no direct legal effect on the marriage, deciding to separate can seriously affect your legal rights, especially in the event of a subsequent divorce. People interested in physically separating from their spouse are therefore wise to consult with an attorney.
Legal separation is an entirely different matter. While a legal separation does not fully dissolve the marriage, the process of becoming legally separated typically involves the same steps taken in a divorce. This includes formal pleadings, discovery, trial, and other steps listed above. Once finalized, a legal separation has a similar effect to a divorce, even if only for a limited duration.
At Stahancyk, Kent & Hook, P.C., we can assist you in making informed choices when facing some of the most important decisions in your and your children's lives. Our attorneys can help you determine a plan to successfully navigate the issues facing you. Click here for new client information.
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