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Divorce Myths: I can move to Oregon and file for divorce immediately. March 16, 2008

Posted by csstephens in Dissolution, International, Myths, Out of State.
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A surprisingly common “divorce myth” we hear in our practice is the belief that you can file for divorce immediately on moving to Oregon (or any state.) Oregon, like most states, has a residency requirement you must meet before you file for divorce. There is a lot of misinformation among people wanting to file for divorce regarding if they must wait to file, and for how long. Part of the reason for the misinformation is because there are a few exceptions to the waiting period.

The residency requirement is located in ORS 107.075. What do you have to do to become a resident? Oregon considers you a resident if you live in Oregon  and intend to remain in Oregon.  It is where you have the intent of returning after an absence  from the state(such as military service, extended travel, school, etc.)

For most residents, there is a 6 month waiting period prior to being able to file for divorce or annulment. For people married in or out of Oregon pursuing a divorce or annulment based on “irreconcilable differences,” one party to the divorce must be a resident (or domiciled) in Oregon continuously for six months prior to filing for divorce.

A much smaller group of residents don’t have to wait. For people married in Oregon, if the reason for your divorce or annulment is (1) bigamy, or (2) being too closely related to your spouse, or (3) being incapable of making a contract or consenting to the marriage because you are too young or don’t understand the consequences, or (4) you were forced or deceived into marriage, you can file immediately on residing or domiciling in Oregon.

Divorce Tech: Online parenting class February 10, 2008

Posted by csstephens in Divorce Tech, Out of State.

In our last post we talked about the requirements for talking the local parenting class in Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington county. As a divorce lawyer in Portland, Oregon, I frequently consult with parties living outside of Oregon or the United States who have an Oregon divorce or family law case involving children. One issue that repeatedly comes up in out of state cases with kids is what to do about the local parenting class requirement. Are you going to be prejudiced if you cannot complete the local parenting class requirement? Are you going to have to pay for a trip to Oregon just to take the local parenting class?

Local courts will usually approve a substitute class if a party cannot take the local parenting class because of distance or travel schedule. One good solution we found is an on-line parenting class offered through “Positive Parenting Through Divorce.” The website offers an on-line class that, with court permission, can substitute for the local parenting class requirement. The class was developed by Dr. Paul Maione, Ph.D., LMFT. The cost is $60, and a certificate of completion is mailed or faxed out within 1 business day of completion. Our out of state clients report good experiences and fast turnaround with the program.

Top 10 list: Top 10 questions to ask a divorce lawyer in the first consultation. February 10, 2008

Posted by csstephens in Child Custody, Child Support, Dissolution, Out of State, Property Division, settlement, Spousal Support, Top 10 List.

first meeting with lawyer If you are contemplating divorce, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney. Once you set up a consultation, be prepared for the first meeting, and have a list of questions to ask the lawyer. The following questions should help you understand the divorce process, how your lawyer’s office operates, and if the lawyer is a good fit for you and your case.

  1. How experienced are you in family law? All lawyers have law degrees, but many lawyers practice in several fields other than family law. You don’t want a generalist. Family law is a specialized field, and you will likely be better served by a lawyer who focuses on family law. Make sure that most of their cases are family law cases. Ask the lawyer if they have handled cases like yours before.
  2. What steps are involved in the divorce process? Your lawyer is there to educate you and guide you through the process. Have the lawyer clearly explain the process to you, from filing the petition, negotiating temporary orders, and the trial process.
  3. How will you charge me? If you hire the lawyer, you should expect to sign a retainer agreement that covers how you will be charged. Ask about the hourly rate, and how often you will be billed. Ask if you will be charged for time spent with paralegals and other staff in the office, and at what rate. Ask what will happen if you cannot pay your bill in full every month. Ask if you can pay by credit card, and if payment plans are available.
  4. How will we communicate? Ask your lawyer if they prefer phone contact over email, and how long you should expect to wait for a return call. Is your lawyer tech savvy enough to email you draft documents as PDF files? Is your lawyer’s office set up to scan and email incoming and outgoing correspondence? Do you automatically get a copy? The last three are essential if you live out of state, or a distance from your lawyer’s office. Lawyers ta
  5. How long will the process take? Ask your lawyer about what is their estimate for how long the case will take depending on if you settle quickly, settle after protracted negotiations, or have a trial.
  6. Can you estimate the cost of my divorce? This is an important question, but a very difficult one to answer. Don’t worry if your lawyer is hesitant to answer. The cost of a divorce depends on what you ask the lawyer to do, the level of conflict between you and your spouse, and the reasonableness of your spouse and their lawyer. Many of the cost factors are outside your control.
  7. What kind of resources do you make available to clients to make the divorce process less difficult and painful? Divorce is a difficult time, and good lawyers provide information and resources to help deal with the human side of the impact. Does your lawyer provide information about the process for self education? Are they patient with you? Do they offer referrals to other professional services if you request them? Our firm provides information through this blog, and educational articles on our website. We also maintain a list of recommended reading materials, and a list of qualified counselors and therapists for those who ask.
  8. Do you recommend mediation? Ask your lawyer if your case is appropriate for mediation. Ask about private mediation, and about how often the lawyer uses private mediation with clients. Good lawyers try to settle their cases once they have analyzed the case. A lawyer that does not use private mediation or other alternative dispute resolution tools may be doing you a disservice.
  9. What fees and costs can I expect other than charges for your time? Your local county (Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, etc.) will charge a filing fee to open a case. You will likely have to pay a process server to server your spouse with divorce papers. Your case may require experts, such as appraisers, actuaries, accountants, social workers, or psychologists. Ask your lawyer what costs to expect, what experts may be needed, and how you will be charged for these additional services.
  10. How would you predict a judge would rule on the issues in my case? While no lawyer can guarantee specific results, listen closely to the analysis behind the lawyer’s answer. Understanding the facts that would make a favorable ruling more likely will help with strategy during the case.

News: How not to pay child support November 21, 2007

Posted by shelleycm in Child Support, News, Out of State.
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The Oregonian reports that a Washington man has been accused of running an Internet prostitution ring in order to make payments on his child support — for his eight children (by seven women). The man allegedly advertised on Craigslist.

While it’s good to see that he was taking his child support obligation seriously, we here at the Oregon Divorce Blog urge anyone struggling to make child support payments to avoid committing felonies to support your kids. Instead, contact an attorney to request a modification of the amount owed each month. It’s a much better bargain in the long run — plus, no jail time!

Out of State: Can Oregon hear my custody case? November 17, 2007

Posted by csstephens in Child Custody, Dissolution, Out of State.
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Going through a custody dispute is never easy, and becomes even harder when the parties and children live in different states. Should you file here? Should you file where the other parent lives? What if the other parent files a custody action in another state even though the kids live primarily in Oregon? What if you both moved to different states after separation? If a couple has no kids, as long as one spouse lives in Oregon and meets the residency requirements, Oregon can usually hear the case. (We blogged about this topic in an earlier post) If a couple has kids, the court must decide if it has jurisdiction to hear the custody portion of the case. To make the decision, Oregon looks to the “Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction And Enforcement Act.” (UCCJEA) ORS 109.700 et seq.

To determine if Oregon has the power to make the first custody determination, the court must satisfy one of the following four tests:

(1) Is Oregon the “Home State” where the child has lived for at least six months prior to filing?

(2) Does Oregon have “Significant Connections” to the child and at least one parent or parental figure, with good evidence regarding the child’s care, protection and personal relationships located here, AND no “Home State” exists; or the “Home State” has declined to exercise its jurisdiction.

(3) Has the Home State or Significant Connections State declined jurisdiction in favor of Oregon, based on inconvenient forum grounds (ORS 109.761) or unjustifiable conduct grounds (ORS 109.764)?

(4) Is there NO other state with Home State or “significant connections” jurisdiction?

In some emergency circumstances, Oregon can assert temporary jurisdiction over a child even if the above tests are not met. For example, if a child or parent is threatened with mistreatment or abuse, Oregon can temporarily hear the matter. This type of jurisdiction is limited and usually only lasts until the “Home State” or “Significant Connections” state issues an order.Even if you meet one of the above tests and Oregon can assert jurisdiction, the court must determine if it should exercise jurisdiction. If Oregon is a less convenient place to hear the dispute, Oregon may decline to hear the matter. In making this decision, the courts considers domestic violence issues, travel and financial considerations, where the best evidence is, how familiar are the courts with the matter and how fast could they hear it, and how long a child has resided outside a state. ORS 109.761 Also, Oregon might decline jurisdiction if a party has engaged in wrongful conduct (like misrepresenting where a child lives).

If you are filing for custody and the children have lived in multiple states, make sure your lawyer is familiar with the UCCJEA and has all of the information needed to analyze whether Oregon is the right place to file.

Out of state: Working with a long-distance lawyer May 3, 2007

Posted by csstephens in Dissolution, Out of State.
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Going through a divorce is never an easy experience, no matter how amicable the parties might be throughout the process. When the divorce is contested, it’s a lot harder. Multiply that by a hundred, and you have an idea of how difficult it can be when you’re in one state and your case is in another.

Although you might have a lawyer in your state, you’re going to need a lawyer licensed to practice law in Oregon if this is where your case is. When you start shopping for a lawyer in Oregon, you’ll want to make sure you address the following issues. (more…)

Out of state: how does Oregon get jurisdiction over my divorce? May 2, 2007

Posted by csstephens in Dissolution, Out of State.

A court in Oregon needs two types of jurisdiction in order to hear a dissolution of marriage (divorce) case and to make it stick. The first type of jurisdiction is personal jurisdiction, which means the court has the power over the parties involved in the case. The second type of jursidiction is subject matter jurisdiction, which means the court has the authority to hear the type of case that’s in front of it. [Both types of jursidiction are necessary for all court actions, not just divorces.]

Personal jursidiction over a person can be acquired pretty easily: if you’re served with papers in Oregon, that’ll do it, or if you own property in Oregon or have a lot of contacts with Oregon.

By contrast, subject matter jurisdiction in a dissolution stems from Oregon statutes which give the courts the authority to hear dissolution cases.

The Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) lay out the rules for whether or not a case is appropriate to be heard in Oregon. The law requires that at least one of the parties has been a resident of Oregon for six months or more. ORS 107.075.

In a separation case, a party can file in Oregon without having lived in Oregon for six months or more, but the party must be a resident of Oregon or be domiciled in Oregon. (Legally speaking, “domiciled” means a party lives in the state and has the intention of remaining there indefinitely.)

Jurisdiction in cases involving child custody can be much trickier because of specific statutes adopted by states, including Oregon, which were crafted to protect children in dissolution or custody cases. We’ll talk about child custody jurisdiction and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) in a future post.

Out of state: Oregon cases: Introduction May 2, 2007

Posted by csstephens in International, Out of State.
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We’re often asked questions about out of state or international matters, where one party lives in another state or country, but they’re involved in a family law matter in Oregon. Or sometimes, people move to Oregon and immediately want to file for dissolution of marriage or custody here and are surprised to find out that it’s not quite so simple as just going down to the courthouse and filing the appropriate paperwork. We’ve put together a list of some of the most common questions we’re asked about out of state and international matters, and we’ll answer them in our next few blog posts.