What Oregon couples can expect during a divorce

Oregon couples considering divorce may not know where to begin. The divorce process is typically emotional and difficult, so knowing what to expect is often helpful.

Although people may have an idea of what a divorce might be like from witnessing others go through it, dealing with your own divorce is often more challenging than initially expected. It is important to keep a realistic perspective and understand what a court can and cannot assist with during the divorce process.

Courts approve property division, child support and custody

Three main areas the court examines during a divorce are:

  • Property division
  • Financial support
  • Child custody

Oregon is an equitable distribution state. This means the court divides property based on what it determines is fair, equitable and reasonable. It is important to note that the word "equitable" does not mean "equal." Therefore, dividing property equitably does not necessarily mean each spouse receives a 50 percent share.

The court looks at a number of factors when dividing property equitably, such as the current financial circumstances of each spouse and their future earning potential. The court may also consider any other factors it deems relevant to the determination.

Financial support generally means maintenance, or alimony, and child support if children are involved. A court may or may not award maintenance, depending on the couple's specific financial circumstances.

Oregon courts examine the couple's combined income when calculating child support. Additionally, expenses generally involved at the couple's particular income level are reviewed. In addition to making monetary payments, the parent responsible for child support is also required to provide health insurance coverage.

Like many states, Oregon uses a "best interests of the child" standard when deciding child custody. A judge may award sole custody to one parent or joint custody. Parents with joint custody share responsibility for making major decisions in the child's life. These are typically related to education, religion and health care.

Factors a court uses to determine the best interests of the child include:

  • Whether a parent expresses a willingness for custody
  • Whether a parent encourages a significant relationship with the other parent
  • Any history of abuse

A court also takes the child's preference into consideration. However, a decision is not made based only on this factor, although it is given more weight if the child is older.

Courts do not like to separate siblings. Therefore, they also consider how placement affects the child's relationship with other siblings.

A court cannot help resolve emotional issues

A court provides assistance with practical matters such as those discussed above. However, a court does not promise a friendly, or even civil, relationship with a spouse. It is up to each spouse to maintain a mature and respectful attitude throughout the entire process, including after the divorce is final.

It is also important to realize that a standard of living adjustment may be necessary after a divorce. Although courts do their best to ensure an equitable division of property and finances, a divorce normally means a lower standard of living, at least for a little while.

An Oregon resident considering divorce needs a skilled divorce attorney. The attorney can provide knowledge and guidance and assist with each step of the divorce process.