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Salem Family Law Blog

Important facts about dividing property in an Oregon divorce

Once you and your spouse have established that you cannot make your relationship work, it is time to begin the legal process of ending your Oregon marriage, a large part of which is dividing your marital property. At the office of Daniel J. Lounsbury Attorney at Law, we have assisted many divorcing clients with the division of assets and debts.

If you own some things that were never shared during your relationship, they might not be part of the process. For example, if you had a valuable necklace left to you by your grandmother, it may be separate property. You should still mention it when you are doing the inventory, but it might not affect the equitable division of your shared assets. However, as the Oregon Judicial Branch explains, assets such as retirement accounts that were contributed to during the marriage would be considered marital assets. 

How are custody rights determined in a divorce?

Separating or divorcing parents in Oregon are often very concerned about child custody determinations.

As a parent, you may be reassured to note that according to the Oregon State Bar Association, custody and parental visitation determinations are guided by the child's best interests, rather than automatically granted to either parent on the basis of the parent's gender.

Things to consider before filing for divorce

Many married couples in Oregon file for divorce for varying reasons. No matter how unhappy you are and ready you feel to leave, there are some things you should take into consideration before filing your divorce papers. You should look past the relief and excitement you feel at the thought of closing this chapter and moving on so you can plan and improve the quality of your post-divorce life. 

Here are some key considerations to keep in mind when filing for divorce. 

What is Oregon’s process for establishing paternity?

Even though you may know who your child’s biological father is, the Oregon family law courts will simply take your word for it. Instead, there is a legal process that you must go through before he is recognized. According to the Oregon Department of Justice’s Oregon Child Support Program, if you were not married to the father at the time of your child’s birth, you and he will have to take certain steps.

The father may want to be a part of your child’s life, whether or not he has a relationship with you. In either case, he will need to fill out the form that voluntarily acknowledges paternity. You both sign it, and then you must have it notarized and file it with Oregon Vital Records.

Steps to keeping divorce peaceful and productive

Each year, many Oregon couples resort to divorce as an option to reduce tensions, disagreements and stress associated with deteriorating relationships. While it is never convenient and rarely peaceful from start to finish, couples can take proactive steps to keep proceedings as productive and drama-free as possible.

In an article shared by the Huffington Post, couples can gain insight into some of the things they can do to keep their divorce peaceful. These include the following suggestions:

  • Bury the scorecards: One of the biggest mistakes a divorcing couple can make is to constantly compete in regards to custody, asset allocation and other aspects of divorce. Individuals who keep score and promote themselves as an entitled winner are only more likely to cause chaos and contention.
  • Children come first: For couples with children, one of the best ways to keep proceedings peaceful is to put the needs of their children first. Making decisions based off of a child’s well-being, happiness and overall comfort can help each spouse to maintain flexibility and compassion.
  • Keep things reasonable: When fights do arise, couples should do their best to be fair, empathetic and understanding. Individuals should avoid making haste judgments, talking badly about their spouse or refusing to listen.
  • Forgiveness is crucial: Even though it is one of the hardest things to do, divorcing couples should make every effort to forgive each other and move on from heated disagreements. Couples that hold grudges or are spiteful of each other often have a much harder time finding productive and beneficial agreements in divorce proceedings.

Maintaining a strong parent-child relationship following divorce

Pending a divorce, many Oregon parents share similar concerns including how to help their children cope and how to reach an amicable custody agreement. Another prevalent anxiety is often centered around the ability to maintain strong parent-child relationships despite significant changes to the familial structure.

According to the Huffington Post, there are some proactive steps that divorcing parents can take to maintain worthwhile relationships with their children and create even stronger bonds. These include the following:

  • Thoughtfulness: If a parent notices a deteriorating relationship with their child, he or she should take a thoughtful approach to finding out why. Perhaps there are things that can be doing to put the child’s needs first or to better understand the changes in the child’s attitude or behavior.
  • Involvement: Parents can successfully show they care about their children by being involved in the details of their lives. Even after a divorce, parents can be proactive about creating a calendar and being aware of their children’s schedule, extra-curricular commitments and current interests.
  • Quality time: While parents may be tempted to measure their involvement in terms of hours spent with their children, it is more productive for them to focus on quality time. Parents should focus their energy on creating memories and spending time doing wholesome, quality activities with their children.
  • Creativity: Children thrive off of creativity and exposure to new experiences. Parents can encourage excitement and enthusiasm for spending time together by being creative and thinking of fun activities that promote learning.

Several benefits of divorce mediation

Oregon couples who are thinking about filing for divorce should consider the benefits of resolving their differences through mediation. Although they may be ready to hurry through the process so they can move on with their lives and start over, careful consideration to all aspects of their situations is necessary to help them achieve the best outcomes and protect themselves from the stress and strain it can put on their lives. According to Prevention.com, divorces can affect a person’s emotional and physical health. Mediation can help couples to finalize their divorces faster than litigation. 

Here are some other ways separating couples can benefit from divorce mediation. 

Developing a co-parenting arrangement that works for everyone

Developing co-parenting arrangements in any divorce situation requires both parents to be objective, flexible and realistic to reach an agreement that is amicable and beneficial for their children. Divorcing Oregon couples have to put the best interests of their children at the center of every decision to create an environment that is conducive to their children’s growth and adjustment.

According to Psychology Today, there are certain behaviors that parents should participate in as they strive to create an optimal shared-parenting arrangement. These include the following:

  • Parents should peak positively, especially when talking about their ex-spouse.
  • Parents should set rules and establish parenting guidelines together, and they should enforce the rules even when the other spouse is not present.
  • Parents should recognize each other’s strengths and utilize individual competencies in their parenting arrangements.
  • Parents should maintain normalcy and not plan extravagant activities every time they see their children.
  • Parents should communicate often and update each other on the welfare and progress of their children.
  • Parents should discuss arrangements with extended family to guarantee that everyone understands when they will get to spend time with the children.

Common mistakes made in a divorce

There are common mistakes that are made over and over in divorces involving Oregon couples. According to the Huffington Post, a top mistake is not understanding the legal process or the procedures involved. This means not knowing that there are options other than fighting it out in court, such as mediation, which can make it much easier to come to amicable decisions, or not understanding the details about child custody and support.

In addition, not having all the necessary financial information is another common mistake. Without all the financial details, a person is unable to know how much to ask for in support, including alimony. Assets may also not be disclosed and therefore not considered by the court if both parties are not aware of them.

Who gets the pets in a divorce?

If you own pets with your spouse and are going through a divorce in Oregon, then it is natural to be concerned about how the court will handle pet ownership. Pets are not treated like children under the law. Forbes notes that they are considered property. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement through mediation about how to handle the division of pets, then the court will step in and do it.

Your spouse could try to use your animals as a bargaining tool to try to get other property you own. This is especially true if your spouse knows that you care deeply for a pet. Most judges are aware that spouses often use pets as leverage, so if you are in a situation where that is happening, you have a chance to legally win ownership of your dog or cat.

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