In most firms it is the staff that handles the bulk of your case. You end up dealing with paralegals, assistants, or clerks instead of the attorney you signed up with. At Pacific Family Law Firm, assistants may handle paperwork and occasional informational calls, but most of the time you will be working with your actual trial attorney.
Our office and divorce lawyers have built the firm from the ground up with efficiency in mind. Paperless, custom-built data centers for instant access to all file information, and flexible communication by phone, email, and even secure instant messaging. We want you to be able to participate as part of the team in your case.
Far too many divorce and family law "mills" are simply out to settle your case as fast as possible so they can move on the next one. Pacific Family Law Firm was founded by lawyers who are used to the courtroom and don't run from it. If getting you the right result means taking the matter to a trial, we will do it. If you are ready for a trial, we won't back down either.
The term “child custody” carries a lot of weight in our society. It tends to be an emotional topic, and parents often find themselves in protracted conflict trying to determine who should be the custodial parent, whether in court or on their own.
Depending on the circumstance, custody of the child may not make as much difference as the parents initially believe or maybe nearly moot.
The term “custody” refers to final decision-making or “tie-breaking” authority over a select group of issues. The custodial parent will have the final determination in three significant areas of a child’s life: the school they go to (education), what medical treatment they receive (health care), and what religious training they receive. Parents who can work together to make these significant decisions may choose to agree to “joint custody” where both parents make the decisions together. See Oregon Child Custody: Sole vs. Joint, What’s the Difference?
If parents are unable to agree to joint custody, the court must award sole custody to one of the parents. In court, a judge will review factors that are set out in Oregon law: which parent has acted as the primary caregiver for the children; which parent is best able facilitate a relationship between the children and the other parent; the emotional ties between the child and other members of the family; if there is any abuse by one parent towards the other parent or a child; each parent’s general interest and attitude regarding the children; and finally, the desirability of continuing existing relationships. These factors may be reviewed explicitly in Oregon law at ORS 107.137.
Sometimes people can make these complicated decisions on their own and don’t need the court’s help. However, if it goes to court, property laying the foundation and proper framework to present evidence to win custody is critical. You are going to want the best Oregon child custody lawyer you can find working on your behalf.
Contact one of our Portland, Oregon divorce and custody lawyers today to set up a consultation.
Clients always want to know the duration and the price of an Oregon divorce. Unfortunately, this is tough to answer without consulting on the case, although a widespread question.
Lawyers charge on an hourly basis, meaning the price of your divorce is related to the amount of time your lawyer spends working on the matter. There are also some court costs associated with the filing of a divorce, or other family law matters, in the state of Oregon. As a general rule, the higher the number of issues that are in dispute in your circumstance, the higher the fees. This is simply because the attorney will need to spend more time working on your matter.
Couples that can solve all issues may be able to do so without the need of a lawyer. Or, they may simply use a lawyer to draft appropriate paperwork. However, if a divorce goes to trial or has multiple hearings in court, the costs will grow accordingly. Because going to court is comparatively expensive, most cases settle without going to trial.
The length of the divorce also depends on whether the case goes to trial. A complete divorce could be finished as little as two weeks (or even less!) if the parties have agreed on most of the matters and only require the drafting of a judgment. However, when the matter involves court time, the schedule is often at the mercy of the court, which can be lengthy given the court's caseload. While most contested cases resolve within nine months, outlier cases can last more than a year.
Let us evaluate your case at a flat-fee initial consultation. We will attempt to give you a ballpark assessment of how much your matter would cost at every step and discuss the specifics of your case, which could make it more or less costly.
Child custody is one of the most contentiously and contested issues in Oregon family law cases. Misconceptions about what "custody" actually means tend to meld with advice from well-meaning friends and family and with conflicting information from web sources that might not even reflect Oregon law.
Legal "custody" of a child in Oregon is not nearly as sweeping a status as many tend to believe. It is not a "super parent" status that allows a custodial parent to make unilateral moves for the child that involve relocation or schedule changes. In short, legal custody refers to decision making authority on three significant issues: 1. Education - for instance, if there is a dispute regarding which of two available public schools a child would attend, the custodial parent would have the final "tie-breaking" vote. 2. Healthcare - in non-emergency circumstances, the custodial parent may determine major medical questions, like selecting which primary care pediatrician the child uses. 3. Theological training - again, for example, this would entail determining as to whether a child went to a religious school or a public school. (Note that this custodial decision says nothing about the who would pay for a private religious school.)
There are two separate types of custody in Oregon: full legal custody and joint custody. Full custody is where one parent has the entire "tie-breaking" decision making authority, as referenced above. In joint legal custody, neither parent has any more power than the other; all determinations as to primary education, healthcare, and religious training must be by agreement of the parties. Joint custody can only come about by agreement of the parties. The court cannot force it.
By contrast, sole ("full") legal custody, if not agreed to, must be decided on by the court. When doing this, the court must take the child's best interest or children into account and apply factors as prescribed by Oregon law. In determining custody, Oregon law specifies what factors the court must evaluate and consider when deciding who should be the sole custodial parent at ORS 107.137: - a) The emotional ties between the child and other family members; - (b) The interest of the parties in and attitude toward the child; - (c) The desirability of continuing an existing relationship; - (d) The abuse of one parent by the other; - (e) The preference for the primary caregiver of the child, if the caregiver is deemed fit by the court; and - (f) The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child. However, the court may not consider such willingness and ability if one parent shows that the other parent has sexually assaulted or engaged in a pattern of behavior of abuse against the parent or a child and that a continuing relationship with the other parent will endanger the health or safety of either parent or the child.
When the parties cannot agree on joint custody, the court has no option but to decide on one parent to be awarded sole custody by applying these factors. If a case goes to trial, a court will often recite the statutory factors they considered when making their ruling and awarding custody. However, not all cases go to trial. Most do not. If parties agree on a custody arrangement, without the need for a judge to weigh the custody factors, the court will honor that decision in any final judgment. Parties can come about an agreement by themselves, with the help of attorneys, or even through a mediated settlement.
Once custody is decided, or agreed-to for one parent, changing custody is substantially harder than establishing it. The court requires a "substantial and unanticipated change in circumstances," generally, which are to the detriment of a child.
Custody issues are tricky and require knowledge of the law to present the relevant evidence in a contested case. If you need help with your Oregon custody case, contact an experienced Oregon custody lawyer at brittle.law to set up a consultation.
Q: What does a family law lawyer do? What is "Oregon family law?"
A: “Oregon Family law” is an umbrella term that refers to the practice of law that involves common domestic and family issues. While it is often associated with Oregon divorce, "family law" covers far more. Common family law issues include child custody, parenting time (visitation), step-parent adoptions, spousal support, child support, restraining orders and stalking orders, prenuptial agreement, grandparent rights, and far more.
Modern families come in all sizes and arrangments, and the term "family law" simply refers to the practice of law that helps those families within the Oregon court system.
If you’re contemplating a divorce, there’s no doubt that it’s a difficult time. Divorce fraught with charged emotion that may be unfamiliar. Even if you initiate the divorce, it’s still complicated. Divorce spawns big emotion, and even well-meaning parents make mistakes without thinking about the ramifications of their actions. To ensure a smooth process, we have compiled a list of common pitfalls to avoid doing during a divorce.
This unfortunate practice, while universally counseled against, still creeps into divorce negotiations. People will tie parenting time and custody issues to matters of property division and finances. For example, “if you agree to X amount of spousal support, I will allow joint custody.” Although it is rarely so overt, it is nonetheless prevalent in more subtle ways. Don’t do it. Period. Courts penalize parents who prioritize financial issues over the best interest of children. Your children are not leveraged for anything. Your parenting time and custody matter must always place their best interest first.
Negative talk about ex-spouses is a common problem, and you may not even realize you are doing it. As an ironclad rule: do not disparage your ex-spouse to your children or in front of your children. Children take these things to heart. Even if the allegations and statements are true, children don’t need to hear negative thoughts about their parents. Your children are 50% of the ex-spouse you are disparaging, so by insulting your ex; you are disparaging your children in some respect.
It is said that during a divorce, people behave the equivalent of having temporarily lost 20 IQ points. Whether this is the case, it’s undeniable that thinking is more difficult when you are overwhelmed by a flood of other emotions. Intense hurt, anger, fear, and other emotion can cause poor judgment if you let them. Having a dispassionate sounding board, like an experienced attorney, counselor, or therapist, can help keep your worst impulses under control.
Whether your children are infants, teens, or even adults with their children, your divorce is going to impact them. Hiding the divorce from children is rarely a viable option. However, children also don’t need to know the gritty details of the divorce either. Here, it is an excellent idea to seek the guidance of a counselor or therapist with experience with children and divorce to determining the most age-appropriate language to use to explain the circumstances. A teenager will require far more information than a toddler, so tailoring your communication to each child is a must.
Don’t lie to the court; this is always the case. Often people will try and frame their finances when divorcing to make the situation appear either better or worse for court. Should you wind up in court, savvy judges generally figure out the truth. Obscuring facts simply damages your credibility. Ignore well-meaning friends and family who might focus on the horrors of spousal and child support. Listen to your attorney instead and follow their direction. They know the law in your state.
With few exceptions, legally, it doesn’t matter why you are getting a divorce. In the unfortunate circumstances that involve abuse or danger to yourself or the children, specific facts might be relevant to discuss with your lawyer. Otherwise, family law judges don’t evaluate which person is morally right or wrong or why the divorce is occurring. They are there to divide assets and debts and create a new future for your children. Leave that in the past. The grievances and emotional hurt from the marriage are better left to your counselor or therapist, as discussion in court simply muddies the issues the judge is required to decide.
Don’t enter negotiations unwilling to make any concessions. Sometimes it is tempting to “stand your ground” and decide that you aren’t willing to give an inch. If that’s the case, going into a negotiation likely will not yield anything except frustration. If you can’t negotiate and reach an agreement on your own, the only person who will be able to make decisions for you is the judge. In that case, you will end up having compromise made for you, often in less desirable ways. If you are going to enter negotiations, do it in good faith.
Abraham Lincoln famously said, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” The fact is that all but least contentious divorces have emotional issues that can impact your judgment amid a divorce. Even if you believe you are handling the circumstances will, hindsight will likely prove that some decisions were made without the clarity of dispassionate advice. Further, there is no substitute for knowing the law. Even if you have facts on your side, unless you know how to frame and present those in the context of Oregon law, you may not get the benefit of those factual advantages.
It’s human nature to rely on the people closest to us during a divorce. Friends, family, and even acquaintances all seem to suddenly have opinions, advice, and experiences to share with you. The problem here is twofold. First, unless those family and friends are experienced Oregon divorce lawyers, they don’t know how to interpret the facts of your case correctly. Secondly, those family and friends, though well-meaning, are often aligning with you and telling you information you want to hear instead of providing objective legal analysis rooted in Oregon family law.
Nobody is perfect; we all make errors along the way. If you are reading this list and realize you have already made some of the mistakes listed, it’s ok. You can make changes. What is important is recognizing the room to improve and find a way to change bad habits. Divorce is a process, and it’s a learning experience. Give yourself some breathing room and slack for making errors. It’s how you adapt to your situation and find space for self-improvement over past mistakes that ultimately will result in more peace for your family.
When going through a divorce, tensions are already high. Emotions are high; feelings are hurt. The last thing that helps this circumstance is litigation, where the parties are forced to take positional roles that are adverse to each other, with a judge deciding on "who is right." By contrast, mediation is about building agreements and consensus. Rather than having a judge tell you the decision, a skilled Oregon mediator will help guide the parties to agree on their own. For couples going through a divorce, this is often an excellent way to reduce the level of conflict and create a resolution that works for the family.
While certainly not free, mediation can also be an excellent investment if it cuts a lengthy and far more costly litigation cycle of trial preparation and trial. Further, the reduction of tension and faster resolution, if successful, can have many longer-term benefits for families with children. By improving the ability to communicate at seem level, it may foster an environment that parents can work on other conflicts in the future to resolve issues involving the children.
Every county in Oregon is required to offer some divorce mediation to litigants. These mediation processes are connected to the court process. Still, they are outside the routine litigation that occurs within the court process itself. All mediation requirements may be satisfied by utilizing a private mediator independently hired by the parties.
In the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area, each of the three counties has its own mediation services required during a divorce: - Multnomah County Divorce Mediation: Under Multnomah County Supplementary Local Rule 8.031(1): In any domestic relations case, all parties are required to participate in some form of appropriate dispute resolution, including mediation, arbitration, judicial settlement conference, or a neutral-assisted settlement conference… - Clackamas County Divorce Mediation: Divorce mediation is voluntary - Washington County Divorce Mediation: Washington county Supplementary Local Rule 12.011 require: Mandatory Mediation: Any action filed in the court involving a controversy over custody or parenting time of minor children shall be subject to mediation - Outside the trip-county metropolitan area, each county has it’s own requirements which can be evaluated in the county supplementary local rules.
Mediation and arbitration are both alternative dispute resolution methods ("ADR") but are very different processes. Arbitration is more like a less formal trial and does not take place in a courtroom. In arbitration, an "arbitrator" fills the role of a judge in a courtroom and makes decisions about the case. By comparison, mediation is a process where a mediator facilitates negotiations and helps bring about agreement on disputed issues. Unlike an arbitrator, a mediator does not have any decision making authority in the case. While a good mediator can facilitate an agreement, they cannot force a resolution.
Minimizing conflict both during and after a divorce should be essential for parties, particularly those with children. Mediation provides a useful tool for resolving disputes without the need to enter a public forum (a courtroom) and inflame tensions by leveling allegations at each other. Mediation allows the parties to take part in the development and agreement of their resolution. This lowing of strains can have long-term benefits for the parties' emotional well-being and foster a better co-parenting relationship after the divorce process is complete. Similarly, or utilizing mediation after the divorce process is complete before returning to court for later disputes, the parties may continue to resolve future issues without costly or hurtful litigation.
Conflict reduction during and after divorce Minimizing conflict is a primary benefit of mediation during a divorce. The ability to do this can not only make the divorce itself less complicated, but it can set up a more positive atmosphere for after the divorce. For people who must co-parent after the divorce, this can be highly beneficial and in children's best interests.
This question is standard, though completely subjective and fact-specific. It is certainly possible for people to do divorces independently, and the court even provides paperwork to the public to do so. However, unfamiliarity with legal forms can confuse the inexperienced, and mistakes can result in more considerable legal fees in the future to correct the errors.
When there are more complex issues involving children, custody, and real property or more extensive assets, getting the expert legal opinion from an experienced Oregon divorce lawyer is almost certainly a good idea.
While not an exhaustive list, experience has shown that the best Oregon divorce lawyers consistently display a handful of traits. These are the hallmarks that tend to create the client's best knowledge and are most likely to lead the client to their goals. It is common for people to want a "pitbull" or some other cliched characterization of a lawyer to represent them. However, these are the traits that, in practice, are the most likely to obtain positive results.
It is common in any Oregon divorce or other family law matter, from child custody to spousal support cases, for clients to ask about attorney fees. Generally, they want to know whether the other side will be made to pay their attorney fees.
Oregon family law statutes do provide mechanisms for the court, and the judges who hear the case, to award attorney fees to one party at the expense of the other. When clients ask, "Can the judge make the other side pay for my attorney fees?" the short answer is "yes." However, the slightly longer answer is "yes, but don't count on it." In Oregon divorce cases, the judges have "equitable authority" to resolve the matter. In short, they have broad discretion to do what they see as fair.
Generally, what judges see as fair is to handle money issues such that costs, awards, and the property is divided equally. This outcome is not required. More often than not, it's just that dividing property and finances equally is what the judge finds to be fair or equitable. The same logic holds for attorney fees. Generally, the court is inclined to make people each pay for their attorneys. While Oregon judges have the authority to award attorney fees to one party in a divorce or other family law case, generally, they do not if both parties are taking good-faith positions throughout the litigation.
That said, there are circumstances where Oregon judges certainly will award attorney fees to one side. Oregon divorce and family law lawyers typically see attorney fees being awarded to one side when the other individual - either with or without a lawyer - made the case unnecessarily costly or contentious. This can be caused by failing to comply with court orders, taking legal positions that are not supported by law, or prolonging litigation by numerous other tactics. Suppose a judge gets the sense that one side abuses the system or wastes time or resources merely to harass. In that case, the odds increase dramatically that the judge could award other side attorney fees for the time spent addressing meritless positions.
In a sense, while the law is not structured that way, awards of attorney fees in Oregon divorce cases are often treated by judges as sanctions for bad behavior. This reality should give litigants pause when seeking out the fabled "pitbull lawyer." The law does not reward people who are aggressive only for the sake of being aggressive. Generally, it is good advice to a potential client that while it is possible that they could recover some portion of their attorney fees spent - up to the full amount - they should take legal positions that assume they will not. If you unnecessarily run up the bill with the hope that the other side may have to pay for your lawyer, you may not only find yourself not getting reimbursed but paying for the other side's attorney instead.
Pacific Family Law Firm is a Portland, Oregon based firm of attorneys practicing in all areas of Oregon family law. We handle divorce and a full range of other family law-related issues, including child custody matters.
Sometimes not knowing is the most stressful part of a divorce or family law case.
Let us remove the mystery.
Talk to an experienced Oregon family law attorney today.
(a) A party may apply to a court for a temporary protective order of restraint by filing with the court an affidavit or a declaration under penalty of perjury in the form required by ORCP 1 E, conforming to the requirements of ORS 109.767. (b) Upon receipt of an application under this subsection, the court may issue a temporary protective order of restraint restraining and enjoining each party from:
(A) Changing the child’s usual place of residence;
(B) Interfering with the present placement and daily schedule of the child;
(C) Hiding or secreting the child from the other party;
(D) Interfering with the other party’s usual contact and parenting time with the child;
(E) Leaving the state with the child without the written permission of the other party or the permission of the court; or
(F) In any manner disturbing the current schedule and daily routine of the child until custody or parenting time has been determined.
(1) In any proceeding to establish or modify a judgment providing for parenting time with a child, except for matters filed under ORS 107.700 (Short title) to 107.735 (Duties of State Court Administrator), there shall be developed and filed with the court a parenting plan to be included in the judgment. A parenting plan may be either general or detailed.
(2) A general parenting plan may include a general outline of how parental responsibilities and parenting time will be shared and may allow the parents to develop a more detailed agreement on an informal basis. However, a general parenting plan must set forth the minimum amount of parenting time and access a noncustodial parent is entitled to have.
(3) A detailed parenting plan may include, but need not be limited to, provisions relating to:
(a) Residential schedule;
(b) Holiday, birthday and vacation planning;
(c) Weekends, including holidays, and school in-service days preceding or following weekends;
(d) Decision-making and responsibility;
(e) Information sharing and access;
(f) Relocation of parents;
(g) Telephone access;
(h) Transportation; and
(i) Methods for resolving disputes.
ORS 107.105 is a huge statute that provides detailed provisions governing not only the provisions of a divorce or separation judgment but also provisions regarding attorney fees. Rather than quote select parts, the statute may be reviewed in its entirety at the link below.
(1) The court may at any time after a judgment of annulment or dissolution of marriage or of separation is granted, upon the motion of either party and after service of notice on the other party in the manner provided by ORCP 7, and after notice to the Division of Child Support when required under subsection (9) of this section:
(a) Set aside, alter or modify any portion of the judgment that provides for the appointment and duties of trustees, for the custody, parenting time, visitation, support and welfare of the minor children and the children attending school, as defined in ORS 107.108 (Support or maintenance for child attending school), including any health or life insurance provisions, for the support of a party or for life insurance under ORS 107.820 (Support order as insurable interest) or 107.830 (Physical examination may be ordered);
(b) Make an order, after service of notice to the other party, providing for the future custody, support and welfare of minor children residing in the state, who, at the time the judgment was given, were not residents of the state, or were unknown to the court or were erroneously omitted from the judgment;
(c) Terminate a duty of support toward any minor child who has become self-supporting, emancipated or married;
(d) After service of notice on the child in the manner provided by law for service of a summons, suspend future support for any child who has ceased to be a child attending school as defined in ORS 107.108 (Support or maintenance for child attending school); and
(e) Set aside, alter or modify any portion of the judgment that provides for a property award based on the enhanced earning capacity of a party that was awarded before October 23, 1999. A property award may be set aside, altered or modified under this paragraph.
(1) Except as provided in subsection (6) of this section, in determining custody of a minor child under ORS 107.105 (Provisions of judgment) or 107.135 (Vacation or modification of judgment), the court shall give primary consideration to the best interests and welfare of the child. In determining the best interests and welfare of the child, the court shall consider the following relevant factors:
(a) The emotional ties between the child and other family members;
(b) The interest of the parties in and attitude toward the child;
(c) The desirability of continuing an existing relationship;
(d) The abuse of one parent by the other;
(e) The preference for the primary caregiver of the child, if the caregiver is deemed fit by the court; and
(f) The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child. However, the court may not consider such willingness and ability if one parent shows that the other parent has sexually assaulted or engaged in a pattern of behavior of abuse against the parent or a child and that a continuing relationship with the other parent will endanger the health or safety of either parent or the child.
(1) If a child is born to an unmarried person and parentage has been established under ORS 109.065 (Establishing parentage), or if a child is born to a married person by a person other than the birth mother’s spouse and parentage between the person and the child has been established under ORS 109.065 (Establishing parentage), either parent may initiate a civil proceeding to determine the custody or support of, or parenting time with, the child. The proceeding shall be brought in the circuit court of the county in which the child resides or is found or in the circuit court of the county in which either parent resides. The parents have the same rights and responsibilities regarding the custody and support of, and parenting time with, their child that married or divorced parents would have, and the provisions of ORS 107.094 (Forms for restraining order and request for hearing) to 107.449 (Transfer of proceeding under ORS 107.135 to auxiliary court) that relate to custody, support and parenting time, the provisions of ORS 107.755 (Court-ordered mediation) to 107.795 (Availability of other remedies) that relate to mediation procedures, and the provisions of ORS 107.810 (Policy), 107.820 (Support order as insurable interest) and 107.830 (Physical examination may be ordered) that relate to life insurance, apply to the proceeding.
Clients always want to know the duration and the price of an Oregon divorce. Unfortunately, this is tough to answer without consulting on the case, although a common question. Lawyers charge on an hourly basis, meaning the price of your divorce is directly related to the amount of time your lawyer spends working on the matter.Read More