Domestic Relations and Family Law
Family law and domestic relations matters can be emotionally and financially draining both on the client as an individual and on the client’s family as a whole. Many of the issues common in divorce and family law disputes (division of assets, child and/or spousal support, and custody determinations) along with the arguments they generate occur in the emotional context of broken relationships of trust and intimacy.
To assist our clients in dealing with the emotional and financial drain associated with these cases we counsel our clients in defining and managing their expectations from the outset of the case, we encourage our clients to take the initiative in setting the tone of the case, and we assist our clients with adjusting to the realities associated with divorce or legal separation.
Often the most important issues in these cases do not have a monetary value, such as custody or parenting time issues. Of course, in many divorces there are frequently disputes which threaten the loss of the family home, the viability of a family business, or the amount of support one spouse should pay the other and the possibility of a reduced standard of living for both parties.
It’s important to define reasonable expectations at the outset of any family law case. Oregon courts do not consider either party’s fault or blame in adjusting their respective rights and obligations in the divorce. Consequently, whatever bad things the other party has done, it’s unlikely to affect the outcome of the divorce.
The emotional context of a divorce case often makes it difficult for a client to evaluate many issues realistically without the assistance of experienced counsel. As a general rule, the parties’ assets and liabilities will be divided equally and the courts will encourage a strong ongoing relationship between both parents and their children. Child support in Oregon is generally calculated by reference to published guidelines. Spousal support is the one issue which is largely left to the court’s judgment on the basis of certain statutory and judicial standards.
Some clients want to privately negotiate or mediate an amicable resolution of the case; other clients would rather fight their case in court. Since not all clients are the same, we do not treat all divorce cases the same. How we proceed in each case is determined by our client’s situation and reasonable expectations. Consequently, it’s important for you to reasonably define your expectations from the outset of your case.
Taking the Initiative
In divorce and many other family law cases it is important to act quickly to assess the issues, evaluate the arguments, and plan a course of action that will optimize results.
Initial steps to protect our client often include filing motions for physical restraint and protection in cases of abuse, temporary child support and spousal support, temporary child custody, motions to restrain sale or transfer of significant assets outside of the ordinary course of business, and a court order confirming our client’s right to exclusive use of the marital residence. Many times the results achieved on these issues at the outset of the case largely determine the eventual outcome when the case is finally resolved.
Adjusting to New Realities
Divorce and family law cases cause real changes in the daily lives of both parties and often in the daily lives of their children. In order for us to advise you and, if necessary, for a court to rule fairly in your case it’s important that you furnish us with all of the financial and personal information concerning you and your family as soon as possible.
Once we have this information we can assist you with establishing your goals, both immediate and long term, and a plan for achieving them. The sooner you’re able to set your goals, the sooner you’re able to constructively and intelligently discuss how you and your family can best adjust to your future lives.
Oftentimes a divorce does not end after the judge enters a judgment setting spousal support and child support amounts, determining custody, establishing a parenting time schedule, and dividing assets and debts. In fact, many cases continue for a number of years after a judgment is entered as the parties experience unanticipated changes in circumstances.
Other Family Matters
While divorce and its fallout is the most common issue in family law, our attorneys are also experienced in the following family law areas:
- Emancipation of minors
- Establishing paternity
- Grandparent visitation
- Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements