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Frequently Asked Questions

Does it matter who files for dissolution first?  It depends.  If you want to file for temporary relief such as possession of the family home, a status quo order for the children or an emergency custody order, then timing is very important.  If there are not any temporary relief issues, it is not as important.  

Does it matter if I cheated on my spouse?  

No.  Dissolution of a marriage is not fault based. Furthermore, one spouse is not entitled to a greater portion of the assets because their husband or wife committed adultery.  It just doesn't matter.  The exceptions:  It may be relevant if child custody is at issue, and it may be relevant if a party uses marital assets to pay for gifts, vacations and other items for a boyfriend or girlfriend.


Am I going to have to pay spousal support?  Maybe.  The judge will look at certain statutory criteria when determining the amount and duration of spousal support.  For example, the length of the marriage and each party's earning capacity are important factors.  Furthermore, there are different types of spousal support.  For example, transitional support helps a party to get on their feet financially, and/or obtain training necessary to become self-supporting.  It is of a limited duration.  Another example is maintenance support.  Maintenance support is typically awarded when a party is older or has health issues.  Maintenance support can continue until the death of one of a party.  

How much child support will I owe?  In Oregon, child support is calculated using a formula. This formula looks at each party's income, the number of joint children, the number of non-joint children, the cost of medical insurance, and the amount of time the children spend with each party.  


I want joint custody of our children, but my spouse won't agree to it.  In Oregon, both parties have to agree to an award of joint legal custody.  If one parent doesn't agree, joint custody won't happen.


I want to change custody of our children.  A parent can file a motion for a change of custody (modification).  There has to have been a change in circumstances since entry of the last order.  If parents have an award of joint legal custody, a motion for modification can be filed if one parent no longer wants joint custody.   

How old does my child have to be to decide where he or she wants to live?  18 years of age. That being said, the older a child is, the more likely a judge is to let that child have input into where that child lives.  The child, however, doesn't get to choose where he or she lives.  That decision is up to the judge.  


I want to show my child the documents my spouse has filed with the court.  Should I talk about he case with my child?  How old is your child?  If your child is an adult, it doesn't matter.  If your child is young, then the answer is do not show your child the pleadings.  Do not discuss the case with your young child.  In determining an award of custody, the court can consider one party's willingness to facilitate a close relationship between the child and the other parent.  

Can I bring my child to my meetings with you so that they can know what is going on and hear it from the attorney?  No, do not bring your child to meetings with me unless I ask you to do so.  Not only is it problematic when custody is an issue, but when you bring a third party to a meeting with your attorney, your discussions are no longer "privileged".  

My ex-spouse won't let me see my kids.  If a former spouse violates a court order, remedies are available, including a contempt of court proceeding or an emergency hearing to enforce parenting time (visitation).  

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How quickly do you return phone calls?  Accessibility to the client is one of the most important parts of my job.  Phone calls are returned promptly.  E-mails are answered promptly.  Absent an emergency, my appointments begin at the scheduled time. 

Can I date while my divorce is pending?  You can begin dating if you want--but bear in mind, often beginning a new relationship while trying to dissolve your marriage is like pouring gasoline on a fire.  Please do not bring your new boyfriend, girlfriend or significant other to court proceedings without discussing this with me in advance.  

What if I have a question about my bill?  Invoices for services clearly explain for what services the client is being billed.  If you have a question, please call.  I am always willing to answer questions regarding billing statements and invoices.  

What is the most expensive part of a dissolution?  Most dissolution of marriage cases settle out of court.  Often, depositions are needed.  This involves not only the cost of preparing for and handling the deposition, but also of a court reporter.  Furthermore, transcripts of the deposition may be necessary.  Should your case go to trial, preparation will be involved which most likely will include the drafting of a trial memorandum setting forth the statutory criteria and case law you are asking the judge to apply, as well as t he particular facts unique to your case.  Expert witnesses such as an appraiser or a custody evaluator may be needed.  When a potential client asks me how much a dissolution will cost, I always answer, "It depends on the other side."


Will you review forms I have completed myself to make sure they are done correctly?  No, I do not review do-it-yourself dissolution (divorce) or custody packets.  Each case is unique.  The pleadings I file on behalf of my clients are very detailed and specific as to your case.  The forms you can download from the internet are typically pleadings with boxes you check for items that you believe are applicable to your case.  Although those sorts of legal kits may be sufficient in some cases, I have had many clients retain me to fix the problems that were the result of doing a domestic relations case without an attorney.  When I have required legal assistance, I hired an attorney--and I am a lawyer.  Having an attorney help you is your way of making sure your case is handled correctly.