The Divorce Process in Oregon
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In many ways, the divorce process can seem daunting or intimidating for people seeking to dissolve their marriage. Quite often, one person is not expecting the divorce or is not ready to move forward.
Fortunately, the attorneys at Gresham Family & Bankruptcy Law have extensive experience guiding clients through the full range of family law matters. Whether you are concerned about child custody, child support, spousal support, property division, or simply have questions regarding the legal process itself, do not hesitate to contact our attorneys.
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An Overview of the Divorce Process
If you wish to get a divorce, a petition for dissolution must be filed with the circuit court in your county. The petition can either be at the start of the divorce or, if everyone agrees to the terms, at the same time as the final judgment of the end of the process in a package. It is almost possible to file and be divorced from your spouse in a few weeks.
The petition contains the personal data about your marriage, your assets, and your children, if any. It can set out specific provisions for support, custody, a parenting plan (visitation), property division, attorney fees, and court costs. Most often, however, it is a generic document that is drafted with the expectation that the specific details of the divorce will be settled by agreement. The final agreement can be reached in mediation through a collaborative process, following settlement meetings, or after a court trial. The timeline to complete a divorce will vary depending on the complexity of your action. Once a petition is filed with the court, there are certain timelines and benchmarks the court will require you to follow or your action will be dismissed.
In Oregon, it is possible to file your petition and finalize your divorce within a few days if your spouse agrees. As a general rule, uncontested divorces take several weeks to a month or two to process. The court established a timeline where it expects a contested divorce to be completed in no more than approximately 12 months in most cases.
A divorce trial involves each party – with or without an attorney – presenting relevant information to a circuit court judge. Based on the information presented to him or her, the judge will apply the statutes and other court decisions to reach a resolution. In most cases, the judge gets the final say.
If your spouse has an attorney and you do not, you are expected to follow the court rules and present evidence to support your position. The judges in Oregon courts are well-trained in family law and will make a decision regarding your children or other family issues to the best of their ability. However, it would be unreasonable to expect them to understand your concerns after years of marriage and your individual circumstances without providing them with a great deal of information. This may entail hours of trial, which can be expensive and time-consuming, and may not provide the results you expect.
To be legally divorced from your spouse, the final agreement or judge’s ruling will be placed in a written document called a General Judgment. This is entered after a court trial, a settlement conference following successful mediation, a judicial settlement conference, or another method of settlement. The judge who signs your judgment will read through the final document to determine if it is “just and equitable” to both parties and compliant with Oregon statutes.
Because there is no waiting period in Oregon, you will be legally divorced the day the judge signs your General Judgment. This document outlines your rights and responsibilities from that day forward. Although it is possible to modify child support, child custody, or spousal support orders later, this is the final document that will impact your future going forward.