Oregon Family Law & Estate Planning FAQs

When you are confronted with a family law issue, it can be difficult to know where to turn. At Litowich Law in Salem, our team is dedicated to helping you through this process and achieving a successful resolution to your legal matter. The following are some of the frequently asked questions we encounter. Of course, everyone's situation is unique, and nothing can replace the personalized advice you receive from a lawyer. To schedule an initial consultation, call us at 503-419-6422 or contact us online.

Family Law FAQs

Do I need to show "fault," such as proof of adultery, in order to get a divorce in Oregon?

No. Oregon is a no-fault divorce state, which means you are not required to show whose fault it is or even why the marriage is ending. In Oregon, all you need to tell the court about why your marriage is ending is that you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences. In other words, if your marital problems cannot be resolved and you want to be divorced, a judge will grant you a divorce.

Are there any requirements that must be met in order to get divorced in Oregon?

Yes. In order to file for divorce in Oregon, you must have lived in the state for at least the six months prior to filing for divorce.

What if I've lived in the state for less than six months?

People who have lived in Oregon for less than the six months just before they want to file for divorce may petition the court for a legal separation. You can then convert the separation into a divorce (must be within two years of any entry of a separation judgment).

Can you get legally separated in Oregon?

Legal separation is an option for people who have not lived in Oregon long enough to qualify for divorce as well as for those with religious objections to divorce or who want to continue to share certain legal benefits of marriage without living together. A legal separation can resolve issues such as living arrangements, spousal support, property division, and child custody.

What happens after divorce papers have been filed?

Once divorce papers have been filed with the clerk, you or your spouse will be served with those papers and given 30 days to respond in writing. Each party is then required to exchange information about finances, property, and debt. If you and your spouse agree about the terms of the divorce (including how to divide the property and debt, and any support issues), the attorneys will draft a judgment and it will be signed by the judge and entered into the public record with no need for a hearing. If you do not agree, you and your attorney will discuss how your case will proceed.

There are certain issues that we can't agree on in our divorce. Does this mean we have to battle it out in court?

Not necessarily. When spouses cannot agree on things such as child custody, support payments, or property division, resolving these differences through divorce mediation is an option. If you are still unable to reach an agreement through mediation, you will have to go to court and present your arguments to the judge who will ultimately issue a ruling.

When it comes to property division, can I expect a 50-50 split?

Not necessarily. In Oregon, the law requires that the property division is fair and equitable under all of the circumstances. "Equitable" is not synonymous with "equal." This means that the court, if asked, is not likely to divide each piece of property and debt in half. One party may end up with more debt and more property while the other ends up with less property, less debt, and more support. The division of property and debt is one of the central challenges in divorce, and we can help you work toward the results you want.

I have married a person with children from another parent; is there any benefit to my legally adopting these children?

Yes. If it makes sense to adopt the children, you would replace the other parent on the birth certificate. This change would confer on you all of the same parental rights and obligations as if the child or children had been born to you. If the other parent is deceased or consents, adoption can be a relatively straightforward process, although complications may arise. We can help you explore your adoption options.

I don't like how the other parent is parenting our child; can I keep our child from that other parent?

It depends. For the most part, unless the other parent has done something rather terrible to a child, the court is unlikely to keep that parent from their children. However, if the other parent is putting your child in danger, is abusing your child, or is neglecting your child, we can discuss options for keeping your child safe. Sometimes, that means modifying custody or parenting time.

Estate Planning FAQs

I don’t really own anything, do I need a will?

If you don’t have property right now, you likely don’t need a will to deal with property issues. However, if you have children, you can write in your will who you prefer to care for your children if another parent is not available to take over. Your preference may still be subject to court oversight, but knowing your preference is important.

What is an advance directive and do I need one?

An advance directive is a document that gives instructions to your loved ones and medical care providers about how to take care of you if you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself. If you have strong feelings about life support, organ donation, or tube feeding, it is a good idea to have an advance directive so that your wishes will be honored.

My family member recently died and I am not sure if the will should be submitted to the probate court or if it is a small estate, how do I know?

For all Oregon estates that have real estate (land and houses) worth less than $200,000 and all other property (cash, retirement accounts, items) worth less than $75,000, the estate may be settled with a small estate affidavit. This process is much easier and takes less time than probate.

If the estate value is greater than the values listed above and there is only a will (no trusts or other methods of distributing the assets), it is likely that the estate will need to be supervised by the probate court.

Contact Us with Your Specific Questions Oregon Family Law and Estate Planning 

If you have questions about divorce, child custody, adoption, or any other area of family law or estate planning call 503-419-6422 or contact us online to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation.

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Attorney Sarah M. Litowich is an Oregonian through and through, with roots in rural eastern Oregon and the Willamette Valley. She is grateful for these deep Oregon roots because she learned the value of hard work and building and maintaining strong r… Read More

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