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The 5 Main Ways to get a Divorce in Oregon
Your options around how to get a divorce in Oregon is similar to many of the U.S. States. There are five primary paths through the divorce process, and you can choose whichever route is most appropriate for your situation, provided you and your spouse are in agreement about approach. If you are not in agreement about the approach, then you be filing a petition for divorce against your spouse, most likely with an attorney representing you.
The five ways are self-file, divorce mediation, collaborative law, arbitration and litigation. The options toward the beginning of this list result in lower costs, time and conflict and greater flexibility and control over the outcome, while the options towards the end to the list are more expensive and legal-rights based. Each of the five primary routes for getting a divorce are summarized below, followed by variations for each of the ways.
If your divorce is fairly simple, for example, you don’t have children, substantial assets or debts, and won’t be discussing spousal support, then you may consider filing for divorce yourself. This is most frequently done by jointly completing and filing a Co-Petition for Dissolution. You can obtain the packet of multiple required forms online, or at the clerk’s office in the courthouse of the county in which you will be filing. If your Oregon divorce is more complex (involving children, a home, spousal support, etc.) self-filing is still possible, yet highly discouraged for the legal, financial and tax risks involved.
A divorce mediator works with you and your spouse to guide you through understanding, negotiating, and making decisions for all the issues in your divorce. The mediator writes a detailed agreement which is then filed with the courts and becomes your legal divorce settlement agreement. While there are many advantages of mediation it does not require you to be on good terms or amicable with your spouse; mediators have many problem-solving and conflict resolution tools to keep the parties productively moving towards settlement.
In most Oregon counties, mediation is required by the court if the divorcing spouses are not in agreement about any significant part of the parenting plan (custody, parenting time schedule, etc.). Mediation is not appropriate in situations that contain domestic violence, or in which either of the parties does not have the mental capacity to make decisions.
In a collaborative divorce process, each spouse agrees to hire a family law attorney that has been trained in collaborative techniques which are oriented towards helping spouses arrive at a healthy, respectful settlement instead of the aggressive adversarial approach of traditionally-trained family law attorneys. In advising people on how to get a divorce in Oregon, “Collaborative Attorneys” often encourage spouses to work with other neutral specialists (including divorce coaches, child counselor, and financial advisor) as a part of a team that communicates with each other for the benefit of the entire family.
In a Divorce Arbitration process, the divorcing spouses mutually agree to hire a private arbitrator to gather and hear the facts of the case (usually presented by each spouse’s representing attorney) and make a decision on the disputed items. The spouses sign a contract to abide by whatever the arbitrator decides as the final outcome of their divorce agreement, regardless of how fair it feels to either party. In this sense, it operates much like a litigated trial, with a bit less cost and formality because the person acting as a “judge” is privately hired by the spouses.
In the traditional litigated approach, one spouse hires a divorce lawyer to file a Petition for Dissolution (along with other documents) against the other spouse, and the receiving spouse who is “served” hires a lawyer to files a counter-petition responding to and contesting the divorce. From this point forward, each spouse’s attorney advocates for the best outcome for their client by negotiating with the opposing spouse’s attorney, while discouraging any direct communication between the spouses.
Approximately 80-90% of the cases in this litigation process settle before a trial, often with the attorneys pressuring their clients to compromise on some issues as the trial date gets closer. For the divorce cases in Oregon that do not settle, they are tried by a family court judge (not a jury). During the trial, each attorney will present the case to the judge through the testimony of witnesses (including the spouses) and supporting documents (exhibits). The cases in which child custody is being litigated and a custody evaluation is ordered tend to be the longest, highest conflict and most expensive to litigate.
Variations on the Five Options
Each of the five primary routes for how to get a divorce in Oregon have variations that may include components of the other options. Some examples are:
Variations of Self-filing
Variations of Divorce Mediation
Variations of Divorce Mediation
Variations of Litigation
In Oregon, alimony may be ordered at the court's discretion. The parties may agree that one provides financial help to the other, either temporarily or permanently. One spouse may be required to pay alimony on a temporary basis while the recipient is enrolled in a job-training program.
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