Divorce cases have several areas where disputes can arise, including  Child Custody & Parenting Time (discussed elsewhere), Separation of Property, Division of Debts, Child Support (discussed elsewhere), and Spousal Support. If a party alleges that a marriage should be ended, there is no defense to say that it should not. The court will, at the end of the lawsuit, dissolve the marriage; it’s the terms of that dissolution that make up the divorce judgment (or “decree,” a term that was often used in past years).

Divorces are at the heart of what we do. They make up more than half of our caseload. It is certainly possible for people to have an amicable split, where they agree on most of the provisions of their divorce. Even so, a professional assessment is highly advised because what is “fair” changes depending on your point of view! We frequently consult with clients whose original divorce was not skillfully handled and it costs more money to fix it than it would have to do it right the first time.

Division of Assets & distribution of debts: Oregon is an “equitable distribution” state, not a “community property” state (like California for example). All things being equal, it’s probably fair to divide the assets and debts equally so that each spouse has roughly the same amount. When the spouses have acquired property by gift or through a will, sometimes there are reasons to do things differently. Families with a great many assets of different types need evaluation specialists (see High Asset Divorce).

Spousal support is the modern word for “alimony”. In Oregon there are three types; transitional spousal support (to help the lower-earning spouse re-enter, or improve their prospects in, the workforce); compensatory support, which applies in those situations where one spouse got support from the family while finishing an education for a high paying job; and spousal maintenance “a contribution one spouse makes to the other”, which is the courts’ way of balancing the parties’ potential to earn.   Unlike with child support, there are no guidelines, and since the passage of the Tax Cut & Jobs Act of 2017, approaches to spousal support have changed because new spousal support awards are tax-neutral.

In an ideal world, you can negotiate all of these topics across a kitchen table. These ideal divorces are not the norm for us! The end of a significant relationship usually brings out the worst in people. The initial period of separation is often the hardest part of the divorce, and the time when guidance is most appreciated. We do this every day! We can help you get through the separation and planning of your divorce. Call today for a consultation.