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Salem Family Law Blog

Developing a visitation schedule that is fair and functional

When a couple in Oregon chooses to get divorced, their decision may require that one or both parents relocate as the courts negotiate the details of the separation. For couples with children, this process could be critical as they negotiate where their children will live and who their guardians will be. They will also need to decide whether parenting responsibilities and decisions will be shared and how time will be split between both parents to allow their children to maintain a relationship with both their mom and dad. 

As parents begin the process of creating a visitation schedule and coordinating the details of their shared custody arrangement, it is critical that both parties acknowledge that they will not be able to have everything they want. According to verwellfamily.com, parents who are more concerned about "winning" the arrangement they wanted to keep current schedules convenient and easy will often be disappointed when they are required to compromise to some degree. The visitation schedule that people create is a valid effort at enabling children shared by the couple to have accessibility to both of their parents to enjoy the relationships and experiences that come from having both a mother and a father. It is not, however, a resource for people to get revenge on their ex. 

Parenting plan violations and Oregon law

When an Oregon couple decides to dissolve their union, a parenting plan must accompany the request for divorce if they have minor children. The amount of time the children spend with each parent is a required part of the document.

According to the Oregon Bar Association, there is a difference between the custody agreement and parenting time. Both parties must agree to joint custody. Otherwise, one parent will have sole custody. The court considers several factors when determining who gets custody, such as the following:

  • The bond between the children and other family members
  • The interest and attitude of each parent about the custody
  • The desire by each parent to continue a close relationship

How is child support determined?

Being a parent requires you to provide for the care of your children regardless of the state of the relationship between you and your spouse or partner. When two married parents decide to divorce, or when unmarried parents discontinue their relationship, the court will generally order one or both parents to pay child support. The criteria for determining child support varies by state. According to the Oregon State Bar Association, the following factors are among those taken into consideration in order to determine child support:

  • Parenting plan
  • Each party's income
  • Medical insurance costs
  • Child care costs
  • Uninsured medical expenses

The parenting plan refers to the custody arrangement. Generally speaking, if you are the custodial parent, you will receive child support from the noncustodial parent.

Is your premarital agreement valid?

Having the talk with your spouse about signing a premarital agreement before your Oregon wedding should make your divorce process smoother. Theoretically, you should be able to use it to negotiate property division fairly quickly, saving money and time. However, if you did not enlist the help of an attorney when you created it, or if you received bad information, the agreement may not be the failsafe document you intended.

According to Oregon statutes, there are three factors that, when combined, will make your premarital agreement unenforceable. Both of you have the right to full disclosure of the debts and assets of the other upon signing. However, if 1) neither of you signs a waiver giving up the right to full disclosure, and 2) full disclosure is not provided, then the agreement isn't enforceable if 3) there was no way for one party to know that the other had those undisclosed assets and/or debts.

When a parent is unemployed or underemployed

The job market in Oregon can be tough, particularly for people in certain professions. However, there are times when a custodial parent may wonder whether the other parent is really attempting to find a job commensurate with his or her skills. After all, a lower paying job results in a different child support calculation. 

According to the Oregon Department of Justice, a parent cannot get out of paying a reasonable amount of child support by refusing to work, or by working at a job that does not pay what he or she could potentially earn. In the past, there was a presumption that the parent would make at least minimum wage, and child support was figured on that if the parent was unemployed. However, now, if the current job or lack of it is not a good indicator of what standard of living the child should have, the court uses a number of factors to determine the amount of child support the parent should pay, including the following:

  • Education
  • Work history
  • Job skills and qualifications
  • Physical and mental health
  • Job opportunities in the area
  • Income levels in the area

Considerations before moving out of the family home

In the interest of fairness, most states abide by either community property or equitable distribution laws. These laws guide courts on how to divvy up property during a divorce. According to FindLaw, Oregon has no such marital property laws on the books. While this allows for more flexibility during the property division process, it also provides for more uncertainty, especially concerning the family home. For this reason, there are certain considerations that a couple should discuss regarding what is to become of the home post-divorce.

To simplify the property division process, Oregon allows couples to devise their own agreements and, if legally valid, will generally accept them. If a couple has joint interest in a home, both parties should sit down and discuss what to do with the home and draw up a written agreement for each's respective attorneys to look over.

Divorce: short-term trauma, long-term healing

Divorces occur because a relationship between two people is too unhealthy to sustain itself. However, according to the American Psychological Association, it is possible for couples in Oregon and elsewhere to divorce in a healthy way, with a minimum of conflict or drama. A smooth separation will be better not only for your peace of mind but that of your ex-spouse and children as well. We at the law office of Daniel J. Lounsbury, Attorney at Law, have experience in helping individuals undergoing a divorce to focus on the big picture and keep everyone's best interest at heart.

Parents who divorce may feel guilty about how the separation will affect their children. Some couples may even try to remain in an unhealthy relationship because they think a divorce will damage their kids. However, studies show that children who grow up in a high-conflict environment have more problems in the long run than children whose parents have irreconcilable differences and make a conscientious decision to split up. There are additional steps that you can take as parents to make the children's transition as easy and painless as possible:

  • Give advance notice before changing their living arrangements
  • Maintain children's contact with each parent
  • Keep conflict with your spouse to a minimum when the children are around
  • Listen to your children's concerns and keep lines of communication open

Expensive weddings tied to divorce in recent study

The anticipation of wedding bells is something that many dating couples in Oregon dream of. Often, planning a wedding involves finding the perfect dress, arranging lodging for out-of-town guests and pairing the perfect wines, food, decor and themes. For many people, planning a wedding is both exciting and costly. 

In an interesting discovery, a recent study has linked a higher likeness of divorce happening with couples who spend exponentially more on their wedding festivities. The study surveyed the marriages of approximately 3,000 people all across the United States. Aspects of wedding planning that were considered included the cost of an engagement ring and the cost of the actual wedding ceremony. In both areas, the results showed that couples who adhered to a more affordable budget had a much higher chance of staying together for a longer period of time. 

How does a judge decide what's in my child's best interests?

In Oregon courts, a judge will take several factors into consideration when determining whether you or the other parent should gain custody of your child. As Oregon's 2017 Revised Statutes explain, a judge will not give preference just because of your status as father or mother. Judges focus on which parent can give children the most successful future.

A judge will not rely on a specific factor to make his or her decision; rather, judges use a combination of factors to make an informed choice. These include the following:

  • Emotional bonds your child has formed with family members
  • Whether you or your child has an interest in continuing an existing relationship
  • How you act toward your child
  • Whether your child has undergone abuse from you or the other parent
  • If the primary caregiver is deemed fit by the court

When you don't want to take your case to court

Ending a relationship is stressful enough without a long, drawn-out battle in an Oregon family court. You may be eager to get through the legal aspect of the divorce as quickly and painlessly as possible so that you can begin to heal emotionally. We at the law office of Daniel J. Lounsbury Attorney at Law frequently assist clients to reach the most favorable outcome for everyone without litigation.

Forbes magazine points out that, often, avoiding a lawsuit is the best option because in court, the judge gets to make the final decision regarding what property division settlement is fair. If you and your spouse can work it out between you, there is no need to involve someone who doesn't really understand your case.

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